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Choosing a Research Topic

Do you have a research assignment coming up that you need to choose a topic for? This guide will walk you through how to choose a topic for your assignment!

What Makes a Good Research Topic?

Before diving into how to choose a research topic, it is important to think about what are some elements of a good research topic. Of course, this will depend specifically on your research project, but a good research topic will always:

  • Relate to the assignment itself. Even when you have a choice for your research topic, you still want to make sure your chosen topic lines up with your class assignment sheet.
  • Be focused and concise. You are looking for a topic that is not too broad or too narrow. You might not be able to choose a concise topic until you have completed some background research.
    • A topic that is too broad will give you too many sources, and it will be hard to focus your research.
    • A topic that is too narrow will not give you enough sources, if you can find any sources at all.
  • Is debatable. This is important if you are researching a topic that you will have to argue a position for. Good topics have more than one side to the issue and cannot be resolved with a simple yes or no.
  • Should be interesting to you! It's more fun to do research on a topic that you are interested in as opposed to one you are not interested in.

Remember, it is common and normal if your research topic changes as you start brainstorming and doing some background research on your topic.

Start with a General Idea

As an example, let's say you were writing a paper about issues relating to college students 

Flip through the below cards to see some examples of research questions that might be too broad, too narrow, or not debatable. Click "Turn" to see an explanation of the research topic and the arrows on the bottom right of the card to flip through the different examples.