Skip to main content
JavaScript disabled or chat unavailable.

How to Research: Choose a Topic

Just getting started on a research paper or project? Don't know where to start? This is the guide for you!

Choose a Topic

Sometimes the hardest part of starting your research is choosing a topic, especially if the topic has not been assigned.

If possible, choose a topic that:

  • interests you.
  • you have questions about.
  • you'd like to know more about.

Brainstorming For a Topic

Check with your course instructor for suggestions, or consider relevant topics from other classes that have interested you.

Browse the Internet. Start with broad issues or topics (e.g., transportation) and see what interesting subtopics might exist (e.g., car-sharing, high-speed rail, bicycle lanes). Note the URLs of useful sites. See Find Websites.

Consult a related subject encyclopedia for ideas and concepts. See Find Background Information.

Browse general article databases such as Academic Search Complete. Scan the summaries of articles, and see related subject terms for possible keywords. See Find Articles.

Topic Considerations

As you explore and choose some potential topics, here are some questions to think about:

  • Scope of your topic - is it too broad, or too narrow?
  • What exactly is your instructor asking for? Read your assignment carefully.
  • Will your topic work for the purpose of the assignment?

Brainstorming Tools

Try these tools to help you brainstorm: