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Getting Started With Research: Topic Development

This guide will help you navigate the research process.

The Research Process

Credo Information Literacy is a library resource that uses short videos and tutorials to walk you through all aspects of the research process. These tutorials will help you learn about exploring and refining your topic, finding and evaluating sources, and tackling writing and citing.

Try these tutorials to get started:

  • Developing a Research Focus: Learn techniques for developing a manageable and interesting research topic
  • The Searching Mindset: Get into the research mindset with searching and exploration techniques
  • Source Types: Distinguish between types of sources to locate the most appropriate material for your research

Explore the full Credo Information Literacy resource and keep building your research skills!

Topic Development

Example Concept Map

Figuring out what you're going to do your paper or project on is the most important part of the process. If you choose the right topic, it can make the rest of the experience fly by. But if you choose the wrong one, it can be extremely frustrating. So how do you choose a topic?

  1. Read the assignment. Make sure you know exactly what the professor is expecting of you. Sometimes, the assignment gives you a specific topic that you need to focus on. Other times, you might be able to choose from a list of topics. You also might be given a really broad topic and be asked to focus on some aspect of it. Either way, make sure you know the requirements of the assignment.
  2. Your interests. At some point in your college career (and probably more than once), you're going to have to do a paper or project on something you aren't interested in. However, whenever the situation presents itself, you should always try to focus on something you enjoy or have experience with. Finding new information about something you like is much easier and more rewarding than trudging through finding information on something you don't care about.
  3. What's out there. There are certain topics or subjects that people have done a lot of research on, and therefore, it's much easier to find information on those topics. How do you know what are popular research subjects? It's easier said than done. But the more classes you take in your field, the more you will get a feel for the type of research that has been done and the amount of articles and reports that are out there for you to use.

Keeping all of these thoughts in mind, one great way to develop a good research topic is to find a general idea of what you want and then spend a few minutes creating a concept map. Try using Google Jamboard to create a concept map that you can revisit and revise as you continue along through the research process.