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Choose a Topic
Find ideas in:
- Your syllabus
- Your text
- Class discussion
- Your life
- Current events
Find Background Information
Background information helps you:
- Start thinking about your topic
- See the big picture
- Identify major issues
- Discover something that interests you
Use quality, professionally produced sources to familiarize yourself with the topic (not just Google and Wikipedia).
Try some of these:
A general reference collection of over 900 titles covering every major subject. Topic pages gather articles from multiple texts and provide links to other library resources.
Gale Virtual Reference Library
A collection of online reference books on history, law, science and social science.
Complete text of the encyclopedia plus links to other online resources.
Narrow Your Topic
Consider these questions:
Ask yourself open-ended questions to focus your topic. You don't have to answer all of the questions. Some might not apply or be helpful.
Use the five w's:
- Who: demographic focus (gender, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status
- What: aspects and impacts of the topic (sociological, psychological, economic)
- Where: geographic location
- When: either present day or a particular time period in the past
- Why/How/So What!: importance, significance (societal, individual)