- Step 1: How to choose a topic
- Step 2: How to get background information
- Step 3: How to find books
- Step 4: How to search for articles
- Step 5: How to search the Web
- Step 6: How to evaluate information
- Step 7: How to cite your sources
- Step 8: How to write your paper
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.
Searchable subject directory with a wide variety of internet resources created and maintained by librarians and library science students.
- World Wide Web Virtual Library
Oldest catalog of the web started by Tim Berners-Lee, the creator/inventor of html and the web.
- 100 Research Paper Topics
Midway College has put together a list of 100 research paper topics in business, education, environment, government policy, health, human behavior, legal issues, media and freedom of speech, religion, social issues, and world issues.
Oakton Library Books on Selecting a Topic
The following books have information on how to pick a topic and refine it:
- The College Student's Research Companion: Finding, Evaluating, and Citing the Resources You Need to Succeed
Call Number: (DP) Z710 .Q37 2011; (RHC) RHC. Z710 .Q37 2011
- The Curious Researcher: A Guide to Writing Research Papers
Call Number: (DP) LB2369 .B246 2009; (RHC) RHC. LB2369 .B246 2009
- Research Strategies for a Digital Age
Call Number: (DP) REF. ZA3075 .T46 2013; (RHC) RHCREF. ZA3075 .T46 2013
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.