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Basic Research Process

Selecting a Topic: First Step

First: make sure you thoroughly understand the assignment. Ask yourself:​

  • ​​Have I been assigned a topic, or can I pick my own?​ 
  • How long must the paper or presentation be?​ 
  • How old can the supporting information be?​​ 
  • Are there specific sources I must use?​ 
  • When is the assignment due? ​

-- Be sure to consult your instructor If you have any questions.

"Picking Your Topic Is Research!"

This video from NCSU shows what goes into picking a topic

Selecting a Topic: If You Are Stuck

Select a general topic or idea you will be interested in, and write about it engagingly for your readers. ​

If you are stuck for ideas to develop, browse various sources for inspiration:​

  • Browse your textbook​
  • Browse encyclopedias and general reference works​
  • Browse through lecture notes​
  • Brainstorm with your professors, classmates, and/or librarians​​

As you browse and brainstorm, write down interesting key words and concepts. These words will likely become search terms in your research. They help develop your idea into a focused topic and use research sources effectively.​​

After finding an initial idea, do background research to learn more about the subject area. This helps you explore the topic and develop the research question you will explore.​