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The Research Process: Selecting a Topic

Class activity for freshman/sophomore college students @ ECSU

Developing a Topic

1. Select a topic

2. Identify keywords

3. Find background information

Choose a topic that interests you and will hold your attention. If you do, the research will be more enjoyable!

Select a Topic

Define the Task

Before selecting a topic or starting your research, make sure you understand your assignment. Consider:

  • Have you been assigned a topic or can you pick your own?
  • How many pages/words do you need to write? How long is your presentation?
  • Do you need to include specific types of sources (e.g. scholarly journal, book, etc.)?
  • When is the assignment due? How much time do you have to research?
  • Is currency of information important?


When in doubt, consult with your instructor.


Topic Ideas

Can’t think of a topic to research? 

  • Scan your textbook.
  • Look through current magazines and newspapers.
  • Browse encyclopedias.
  • Look at the "hot topic" databases listed below.
  • Discuss topics with your instructor, a librarian or a classmate.


"Hot Topic" Databases


G.R. Little Library

Elizabeth City State University