This is the "Developing a Topic" page of the "College Writing II Tutorials" guide.
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Last Updated: Feb 19, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Developing a Topic Print Page

Begin Your Research Tutorial


Developing a Topic

Deciding on a topic is possibly the most difficult part of doing research. If you're not sure how to start, talk with your professor, ask a librarian, or...

      1. Think about a topic that will keep your interest.

      2. Do some background reading from a textbook or a general source like those listed in the "Background Sources" box below.

      3. Narrow your topic to something manageable. You may need to rework it several times as you research.

      4. Try "Mind Mapping" or concept mapping your topic after consulting some background sources.

          You can also use CredoReference's Concept Mapping tool to find related terms and expand your search.

      5. Once you have an idea, write it out as a short sentence or question then pick out search terms.

          "How does stress affect memory?"       stress      memory

            6. Use the sources in this guide under the Research Tools tab to find information..

      Background Sources

      videoSee how background info gives you a head start in searching

      • Sage Knowledge
        Encyclopedias are one of a few sources that give you an overiew of a topic. You can learn enough to choose a specific aspect of a broad topic. You can also pick up key terms as well as author names to search in our catalog and article databases.
      • Credo Reference
        Credo is an information skills solutions provider that serves educational institutions worldwide. We build platforms that enable the flexible configuration of content, technology and services for the purpose of connecting learners, faculty and teachers, librarians and publishers. Credo promotes knowledge building, problem solving and critical thinking to give people the information skills necessary for success throughout their academic, professional and personal lives.
      • CQ Researcher
        contains hundreds of research reports on topics of social policy. Each report includes a chronology, charts, graphs, bibliography, & other overview materials. Browse reports or search by keyword.
      • Opposing Viewpoints in Context
        Features continuously updated viewpoint articles, topic overviews, full-text magazines, academic journals, news articles, primary source documents, statistics, images, videos, audio files and links to vetted websites.
      • Science in Context
        Science in Context features authoritative information and detailed coverage of popular subjects. From earth science and life science, to space, technology, mathematics and science history and biography.

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