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COMM 110: Perez

Choosing Topics

Whenever you are given the freedom to do so, select a topic that genuinely interests you and/or is relevant to your life. Do a quick inventory:

  • What makes you tick? What defines you?
  • What problems affect you or someone close to you?
  • What do you think the biggest problem in society is?

You'll want to consider the following issues before you select your topic:

  • Will it sustain my interest?
  • Does it fit the parameters of my assignment?
  • Is credible information on this topic readily available?

You can get ideas for research topics from several Cañada article databases and from the Web. Each of these databases has a "browse topics" tab.


Develop Your Topic

Once you identify a strong topic you need to find a manageable focus for your work.  Focusing involves clearly defining the specific aspect of the topic you will explore. Think of formulating a guiding research question that captures the main idea of your research. In short: what are you trying to figure out?

Things to consider when focusing:

  • How long is the finished product supposed to be? What can you reasonably cover in that amount?
  • What is your task? Remember, your task for this essay is to inform.  

Here are some methods by which you can begin to focus. For example: "The Psychological Properties of Color"

Go back to “why” you chose your topic. What made you choose your topic in the first place? Sometimes articulating the “why” out loud will directly reveal the direction you want to go with your topic. Example: I want know how colors affect our moods? 

Do some preliminary reading.  Take a few minutes to run your topic through the library catalog and the library databases. Note how others are exploring your topic.  What “grabs” you?  What doesn’t?

Talk to others about your topic. Check in not only with your professors and librarians, but talk to your friends, family and classmates about your topic. Having your topic reflected by someone else can often spark great ideas, and any chance to articulate your topic “out loud” is beneficial.