Identify And Develop Your Topic
Some steps to take:
- State your topic as a question
- Identify the main concepts or keywords from your question
- Identify any subject terms or other synonymous words and phrases that you can use that are related to your topic
||Subject Terms & Related Words/Phrases
|What effect does alcohol abuse have on college students?
||alcohol abuse, college students
||alcoholism, binge drinking, young adults
|What risks do consumers face when shopping online?
||consumer risks, online shopping
||Internet, electronic commerce, data encryption
|Does globalization result in lower wages for workers and the loss of jobs?
||globalization, workers, wages, jobs
||international economic relations, labor
Subject searches require that you know a "controlled vocabulary," which are the exact subject headings used by the particular database. In library catalogs, these are the Library of Congress Subject Headings. In other databases, they are the descriptors or index terms specific to that database. Help screens or online thesauri will help identify correct subject headings.
Other resources to help you develop your topic and questions:
- Discuss potential topics with your class instructor or a librarian at the information desk. (You can also schedule an appointment for a 30-45 minute reference consultation. Click here for the form)
- Look at our Contemporary Issues database collection and use such resources as CQ Researcher, Issues and Controversies, or Opposing Viewpoints to get significant background information on a topic.
- Browse the Pro/Con books section of the library located near the information desk. (Click Here to browse the collection through our online catalog)
- Review our Library Research Guides for directions on which Specialized Encyclopedias and Dictionaries, Websites, Statistics, Journals/Magazines, or Books and Media Materials pertain to certain topics.
- 10,000 Ideas for Term Papers, Projects, Reports and Speeches by Kathryn Lamm is a good source for potential topics in a wide range of subject areas. A symbol is included with each topic to give you an idea about the level of research and resources required to write about it. The latest edition of this book is available at the Information Desk.