Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
The Research Assignment - 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.
Can't think of a topic?
- What aspects of your research assignment are you interested in?
- What time period of geographic area are you interested in?
- What do you already know about the topic?
Some tips to consider:
- Be sure to pick something that genuinely interests you.
- Ask your instructor, a librarian, or even a classmate for advice or feedback on paper topic ideas.
- Finally, once you've settled on something you want to work on, try to express it as a question.
Places to start:
- Browsing a general reference resource is a great place to start.
- Look at a "hot topic" database to get a sense of important social issues.
Points of View Reference Center
Provides content to help assess and develop persuasive arguments and essays, better understand controversial issues and develop analytical thinking skills. This database assembles controversial information in a non-biased manner for evaluation by the patron.
Opposing Viewpoints: Gale in Context
Covers today's hottest social issues, from capital punishment to immigration to marijuana. This cross-curricular resource supports science, social studies, current events, and language arts classes. Includes viewpoints, reference articles, infographics, news, images, video, audio, etc. Periodical content covers current events, news and commentary, economics, environmental issues, political science,etc.
Read through current newspapers and see what is happening in the news that interests you.
Picking your Topic is Research