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Getting Started with Research

Choosing a Topic


  • Review the assignment details
  • Find something you are interested in! 
  • Brainstorm on your own with the questions below
  • Chat with your professor, classmates, or a friend
  • Start browsing research, websites, etc. to get new ideas

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Question #1: What am I Interested in? 

Questions suggested by UM-Flint Golden Gate University:

  • Do you have a strong opinion on a current social or political controversy?
  • Did you read or see a news story recently that has interested you?
  • Do you have a personal issue, problem or interest that you would like to know more about?
  • Is there an aspect of one of your classes that you would like to learn more about?



Now that you have some potential ideas in mind,

  1. Start exploring & searching for information 
  2. Keep in mind these questions: 
    • Is there information on the topic? Too much? Not enough?
    • Did you learn something new?
    • Did it spark a new idea?


Consider these tips from Illinois University Library

  • Too Broad: It can be tempting to pick a topic that is broad and seems easy to research. Keep in mind that sometimes these broad topics come with hidden pitfalls, and can be difficult to research due to the amount of information about them.
  • Too Narrow: If you narrow down your topic too far, you may have a problem finding sources during your research. Try to make sure that your topic is broad enough to do research on.
  • Just Right: To strike a happy medium between broad and narrow, try picking a specific angle, section, or aspect of a broad topic, or looking at how a narrow topic is influenced by other factors, or how it influences other factors in your field.

Changing your topic during the research process is common, and completely okay.

If you find an aspect of your topic that is more interesting or more manageable, explore that angle further. 


Video via NCSU Libraries. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license. 


MSU Writing Center

Need more help? Make an appointment with the MSU Writing Center. Their tutors meet individually or in groups with undergraduate student writers of all abilities and backgrounds at any stage in their writing processes -- from invention to revision.