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Prof. Margolis - Spring 2022

Selecting your topic

Selecting a topic can be a challenging task, here are some tips:

  • Choose a topic that you're interested in! The research process will be more engaging and fun if you're studying a topic you care about. 
  • Try to keep your topic up to date and current (as best as you can). 
  • Narrow your topic:
    • If your topic is too broad, your research can become overwhelming - you'll lose track of your thesis, and stray away from the focus of your essay. 
    • Reading topic overviews of your topic reading can help you decide.  
  • Review the outline on topic selection in your assignment. Ask your professor or your friendly neighborhood librarian for advice.
  • Think of the who, what, when, where and why questions:
    • WHY did you choose the topic?  What interests you about it?  Do you have an opinion about the issues involved?
    • WHO are the information providers on this topic?  Who might publish information about it?  Who is affected by the topic?  Do you know of organizations or institutions affiliated with the topic?
    • WHAT are the major questions for this topic?  Is there a debate about the topic?  Are there a range of issues and viewpoints to consider?
    • WHERE is your topic important: at the local, national or international level?  Are there specific places affected by the topic?
    • WHEN is/was your topic important?  Is it a current event or an historical issue?  Do you want to compare your topic by time periods?

For more information on refining your topic, visit MIT's library guide on selecting a research topic:

Picking a Topic is Research

Picking a Topic is Research - University of Houston Libraries:


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