► Choose a topic that interests YOU.
►Narrow your topic to something manageable. (More on this further down)
►Background reading (quick, you can skim until you are interested)
►Review the guidelines on topic selection outlined in your assignment. Ask your professor or TA for suggestions.
►Refer to lecture notes and required texts to refresh your knowledge of the course and assignment.
►Talk about research ideas with a friend. S/he may be able to help focus your topic by discussing issues that didn't occur to you at first.
The best way to get this right is to really use your own imagination to see what you respond to. Your first tries are important. You can narrow them down later.
Here are some ways to narrow your topic:
Theoretical approach: Limit your topic to a particular approach to the issue. For example, if your topic concerns cloning, examine the theories surrounding of the high rate of failures in animal cloning.
Aspect or sub-area: Consider only one piece of the subject. For example, if your topic is human cloning, investigate government regulation of cloning.
Time: Limit the time span you examine. For example, on a topic in genetics, contrast public attitudes in the 1950's versus the 1990's.
Population group: Limit by age, sex, race, occupation, species or ethnic group. For example, on a topic in genetics, examine specific traits as they affect women over 40 years of age.
Geographical location: A geographic analysis can provide a useful means to examine an issue. For example, if your topic concerns cloning, investigate cloning practices in Europe or the Middle East.