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Breaking Down a Research Prompt: Research Topics

Part of the Fall 2018 "Expand Your Toolkit for Success" Workshop Series


I recommend that you do some searching and reading prior to deciding on a topic. Selecting a topic and formulating your research question takes research.

At this stage, focus on exploring vs. selecting sources right away.

  • Think of a question to address for your assignment, and then do some pre-searching and reading. The literature may not address your topic in the way you initially conceived. You will need to adjust or deepen your question as you learn more about your topic.
  • Based on your pre-searching and reading, decide on your direction. This ensures you have something tangible to work with throughout the semester.
  • Continue searching for information and select the sources that will help you frame the major themes in your essay.

PIcking Your Topic IS Research

North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries, 3:10

Mapping Your Research Question

Use this video to start thinking about topics of interest.  You will be occasionally asked to stop the video to conduct your brainstorming. (UCLA Libraries, 2:52)

Scan Information Sources for Inspiration

Explore information sources to generate ideas for your own research.  These sources include both free web source and subscription databases. 

News Content

Varied Content (magazines, news, journals, viewpoint pieces)


Additional Websites

Specialized Encyclopedias