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Research Process: Choose a Topic

Identify and Develop Your Topic

Choosing a topic is often the first challenge that students face when beginning a research assignment. Be sure to consider the length and scope of the assignment when selecting a topic, and choose a topic that is of interest to you if the assignment allows.

Browse the sources below to help narrow your topic and to develop a topic sentence. A topic sentence presents a general claim which you will examine through your research. It provides the focus for your topic and some key terms to use in searches. You will use the key terms to find research materials that will either support or refute your claim.

Pro/Con Databases

The library's Pro/Con databases cover a wide variety of topics related to current events and contemporary issues facing society. Because they provide multiple viewpoints on current issues, these databases can be very helpful when developing a topic. Access the databases at the links below:

Subject Encyclopedias

Subject encyclopedias provide an overview of a topic and background information. They can also help you to identify key concepts in your subject area. Subject encyclopedias are found in the reference collection.

There are also many electronic encyclopedias in the Lakeland catalog. These are also accessible from off campus.

To browse a list of encyclopedias, do a keyword search in the Lakeland catalog on "encyclopedia." To find encyclopedias on a specific subject, add a word or phrase related to your topic to that search. EX: health AND encyclopedia.

Magazines and Newspapers

Current magazines and newspapers provide you with interesting and timely topics for research papers. Magazines and journals for the current year are shelved alphabetically on the reference side of the library. Tilt the shelf up to find recent past issues.

Newspapers for the current day are kept at the circulation desk. Recent issues are kept behind the counter at the circulation desk before being moved to the newspaper section near the back of the library.

Book Series

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