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Use this guide to learn about the research process and plan your research project.

Research Planning Guide

Step 2: Choose Your Topic

Now that you have carefully read and understood your assignment, you can concentrate on choosing a topic for your project.  This is a very important step. Of course, you can change your topic during the process, if necessary, but that might waste precious time.  Starting with a good topic is the most efficient way to proceed.

Sometimes professors will provide a list of suggested topics. Although it may seem constricting, it can actually be a blessing! The list will contain tried-and-true topics that the professor has already approved and knows can result in successful papers.  However, if none of the topics interest you, talk to your instructor. If you offer a valid suggestion for a topic related to the subject of your course, he or she will probably be willing to let you try. 

If you are given a choice, here are some suggestions:

  • Consider your personal interests.
  • Review your course materials and find a subject that intrigues you.
  • Brainstorm: give yourself 20 minutes to jot down any ideas that occur to you, then look for connections or common themes (click here for more info on brainstorming).
  • Do some preliminary research on a few topics of interest.  You might find that some topic searches yield very few results, while others yield abundant results.  Obviously, a larger pool of resources will make your research easier and richer.
  • Ask a librarian. The DBU librarians are familiar with the courses taught at DBU, and they can guide you toward topics that will work well with the information resources available to DBU students.
  • If your assignment involves current events or issues, such as a persuasion paper, the Opposing Viewpoints in Context database (see below) provides a great list of possible topics.

Opposing Viewpoints in Context

For more information...

Choose any of these links to find more great advice on choosing your topic:

  • "Choose a Topic" from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign—a great list of strategies for choosing a topic, plus a helpful list of topic ideas in different disciplines.
  • "Choosing a Topic" from Purdue University—the Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) offers in-depth advice on this subject, plus details on the brainstorming process.

ATTENTION!  The DBU Writing Center specializes in helping DBU students through all phases of the writing process.  The Writing Center staff can help you generate ideas and make wise choices.