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Step 1: Read the assignment
Read the Assignment
What is the purpose of the assignment?
Can you choose anything?
Is there a list to choose from?
Step 2: Brainstorming Ideas
- What are you interests?
- What infuriates you?
- What are you passionate about?
- What are you curious about?
- What have you been hearing/seeing recently...
- on TV
- in the news
- on social media
- on campus
- in your class
- What is trending in the media?
- Search for topics via Google or library databases (see below)
Opposing Viewpoints This link opens in a new window
Browse a list of topics that have different points of view,
CQ Researcher This link opens in a new window
Collection of reports providing in-depth unbiased coverage of political and social issues.
Issues & Controversies in American History This link opens in a new window
Collection of articles providing concise and balanced coverage of the backgrounds, outcomes, and contemporary points of view for every major debate and conflict in American history.
The Brookings Institute
Think tank with studies on many topics.
"The Heritage Foundation is a research and educational institution—a think tank—whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense."
Pew Research Topics
The Pew Foundation does a lot of polling the opinions, habits and beliefs of the American public.
"The Leading Source for Pros & Cons of Controversial Topics"
Room for Debate (New York Times)
Opinion articles published in the New York Times addressing a variety of "hot topics."
Step 3: Preliminary Research
You must do some research
before you come up with a
Learn more about your topic.
What sounds interesting to you from what you discover?
What gaps do you see in the information you have found?
Step 4: Creating a Manageable Topic
Topic Narrowing Tools
Topic is Appropriate
- Does it match the assignment? See Step 1.
- Is it manageable?
- Time: Do you have the time to thoroughly research this topic and meet the requirements of the assignment?
- Resources: Do you have access to relevant resources to address this topic?
- Skills: Are you prepared to tackle this question (reading, writing, technical skills)?
Is it a good research question?
Does it study the topic/question in a new way?
Does it connect findings to a larger or specific group of people?
Does it share a perspective not often heard?
Does it share a new solution or way to perform tasks?