1: How to Choose a Topic
State your topic as a question. For example, if you are interested in finding out about the use of alcoholic beverages by college students, you might ask the question, "What effect does use of alcoholic beverages have on the health of college students?" Identify the main concepts or keywords in your question.
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The following scholarly websites discuss current issues:
- CQ Researcher
Unbiased reports on current issues may be searched by topic and date. Pros and cons are provided.
- Opposing Viewpoints
Provides viewpoint articles, topic overviews, full-text magazine, academic journal, and newspaper articles, primary source documents, statistics, images and podcasts, and links to Websites.
- Government Information
Links to local, state and federal government sites are found here.
The following websites are great to browse through to find a topic.
They also can help a person find more information on a selected topic.
- 301 Prompts For Argumentative Writing: An extensive list of topics divided into subject areas from the New York Times Learning Network.
- ProCon: Non-profit and non-partisan information organization that presents a list of controversial topics divided into subject areas.
Oakton Library Books on Selecting a Topic
The following books have information on how to pick a topic and refine it:
- The Norton Field Guide to Writing with Readings
- The Curious Researcher: A Guide to Writing Research Papers
- Research Strategies for a Digital Age
If you are finding too much information or too many sources when you search electronically, narrow your topic by using "and": beer and health and college students, for example.
Finding too little information may indicate that you need to broaden your topic.
Look for information on students rather than college students. Increase your hits by using the word "or": beverages or wind or beer or liquor.