Finding a Good Topic
In order to help you find a good research topic for your Integrated Studies Thesis or your research project in this class, please read through the suggestions on this page. I have put together this page using some of my own tips, as well as ideas from Bruce Ballengerís book The Curious Researcher: A Guide to Writing Research Papers (4th ed., New York, Longman, 2004), and Robert Perrin's Handbook for College Research (3rd ed., Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005, pp. 1-7).
What are the characteristics of a good topic?
it is getting at something you've always wondered about
it raises a number of questions that can be answered by consulting authoritative and scholarly sources
it offers more than one way to think about it, or more than one side (and most of the time, more than two sides)
it might open doors to knowledge you have not considered before
it is relevant to your own life
it provides the chance to talk to people and do interviews
it will be an intellectual challenge
you can do a good job discussing it in a 25-40 page IS thesis
What are some strategies for finding a good topic?
Surf the net. Choose subject heading and see whatís out there.
Browse through an encyclopedia in your areas of emphasis at the library and see what some of the entries are .
Consider essays youíve already written. Could the topics of any of these essays be further developed as research topics?
Think about subjects you've been exposed to in classes you have taken. Review your notes and assignments from past classes. Ask past professors for the names of professional organizations in their areas of study, and then look up those organizations on the web. Explore their sites for interesting issues and topics.
Pay attention to what youíve read, heard, and seen recently. Listen to the news, and pay attention to topics that relate to your two areas of emphasis. What have you read/heard/seen recently that connects to your areas and that has made you wonder?
Consider practical topics. Perhaps some questions about career choice might lead to a promising topic.
Look close to home. What are some of the issues in your community, in your neighborhood, in a social group that would be worth exploring? What is a particular problem that might be answered by your two areas of emphasis?
Collaborate. Talk to other classmates (in a variety of classes) about topics and problems that address your areas of emphasis. Talk to a professor about issues that are relevant in his/her area.
Think about people, either living or dead, who have something to do with your subject area. Are there famous (or infamous) people who have contributed something to the area? How about a performer, a scientist, religious leader, political figure, inventor, athlete, public figure?
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