5 Steps to Develop a Topic
Looking for Ideas
The Research Assignment
Before you start your research, make sure you understand your assignment. For example,
- Are you assigned a topic or can you pick your own?
- How many pages/words do you need to write? How long is your presentation?
- Do you need to use specific types of sources? (e.g. scholarly journal, book, etc.)
- When is the assignment due? How much time do you have to research?
- Do you have questions? If so, talk to your instructor.
Can’t Think of a Topic?
- Skim your textbook for broad topic ideas.
- Look at news sources to see what catches your eye.
- Browse print and electronic encyclopedias.
- Look at "hot topic" databases that include articles on current events and controversial issues.
- Check out websites and resources listed on the Social Issues guide.
- Discuss potential topics with your instructor, a librarian, or a classmate.
Books & Websites
Book series that provides opinions and arguments on a variety of societal issues, including pros and cons.
Taking Sides: Clashing Views
Books series that addresses specific questions with argumentative articles written by informed observers.
Contemporary World Issues
This book series features explanation, chronology, biographical sketches, and legal considerations for selected global issues.
This website contains a variety of documents including reports, fact files, and opinion polling results.
This website contains a large collection of argumentative topics with introductory and background information; also includes concise example arguments.
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