Identify a Topic

For most student projects, deciding on a topic will take time. Developing the right topic in the beginning, however, will ultimately make research easier and save time: it will focus your research and help you to identify the most appropriate resources to use.

Some points to consider in selecting a topic:

  • Try to find a topic that is interesting to you.
Your research will be enhanced if you have an interest. Researching something that interests you or something you are already familiar with makes the process easier.
  • Think about your audience.
What will they think? You don't want your professor or other students yawning, saying, "Who cares?" So, choose a topic that is worth arguing about or worth exploring. Find an interesting spin to put on a general topic. Of course, in many cases your professor will need to approve your topic.
  • Avoid obvious topics.
For example, everyone already knows that smoking is bad for you. There are plenty of other ways to explore the topic of smoking -- is there a relationship between smoking and dating behavior?
  • You may want to formulate your topic into a question. This can help focus your topic because questions require answers.
  • What is the correlation between alcohol abuse and depression?
  • What economic impact did the Civil War have on the western U.S.?
  • What techniques have been effective in teaching birth control to teenagers?
  • Should college students be allowed to carry guns to school?

Copyright 2010-2013 Old Dominion University -- Old Dominion University Libraries, updated September 2013