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CMP101 - Composition 1 - Clarkson: Defining Your Topic

How to Choose Your Topic

Follow these steps to choose a topic:

  1. Choose a topic that can be researched
  2. Write down what you know about the topic
  3. Conduct background research to understand how to focus your topic
  4. List questions that you would like answered to help narrow your topic
  5. Choose a question that is focused, interesting, and not too broad to guide your research
  6. Evaluate your question 
  7. Develop your thesis

Using Wikipedia to Develop Your Topic

Wikipedia is a great place to start your research, to get ideas about your topic, and to help you understand the issues related to a topic. While you won't use it as a source for your paper, you can use it to develop your topic, research question, and search strategy.

2. A. How to Develop a Good Research Topic

Concept Maps

Concept Maps are a great way to visualize your topics. Begin with a broad topic and brainstorm ideas about related issues. Combine focused objects to create your research topic. For instance, you could research the impact of rainforest destruction on developing nations.

Where to Begin?

Look up your main concepts in general encyclopedias and subject-specific reference sources. Read articles in these reference materials to set the context for your research. Note important key terms or phrases. Note any relevant items in the bibliographies at the end of these encyclopedia articles. Additional background information may be provided in your lecture notes, textbooks and items on reserve in the library.

credo reference
Our Credo Reference database has just what you need to get you started.

General Sources

Types of Information Sources

Need help choosing where to begin your research?

Depending on your topic you might want to start by looking in books, journals, newspapers, or on the Web. The Purdue Online Writing Lab has some great information on research and how to select appropriate sources.

Organizing Your Research