How to Find and Develop a Research Topic in Two Easy Steps
STEP ONE: IDENTIFY A TOPIC
Select a Topic:
- Scan the following titles in the library's print reference collection:
- Opposing ViewPoints series
- Current Controversies series
- Scan the following titles in the library's electronic database collection:
Browse our Research Guides
Need More Help?
- Discuss your topic ideas with your class instructor
- Discuss your topic ideas with a reference librarian
- Look over the index and the article titles in a specialized encyclopedia that covers the subject area or discipline of your topic (for example, psychology, women's studies, world history, etc.). For help locating an appropriate encyclopedia for your subject, consult a reference librarian.
Stating your topic idea as a question.
For example: if you are interested in finding out about use of alcoholic beverages by college students, you might pose the question, "What effect does use of alcoholic beverages have on the health of college students?"
Identify the main concepts or keywords in your question. In this case they are alcoholic beverages, health, and college students.
STEP TWO: TEST YOUR TOPIC
Test the main concepts or keywords in your topic by looking them up in the appropriate background sources or by using them as search terms in the Cerritos College Library Catalog and in Research Databases.
- Too much information? If you are finding too many sources, narrow your topic by using the and operator.
For example: beer and health and college students
- Too little information? This may indicate that you need to broaden your topic. Broaden your topic by linking synonyms with the or operator. Look for information on students, rather than college students.
For example: alcoholic beverages or beer or wine or liquor. Using truncation with search terms also broadens the search and increases the number of items you find.