How to Find a Topic
Selecting a topic is one of the most important and sometimes the most difficult part of the research process. A research topic should:
- Be appropriate to the assignment--make sure you ask your instructor for approval.
- Be personally interesting--a topic of social or political interest, business or career-related, hobby, sports, etc.
- Be focused--too broad a topic will yield too much information, too narrow a topic will yield too little. Examples of topics that are too broad or too narrow for a 5-7 page paper:
- Computers--too broad (are you interested in their history, their effect on society, psychological effects, or some other aspect of the subject?)
- The psychological effects of computer use for primary school children in Lake County, FL--too narrow (you won't find many resources).
- Is Internet addiction a serious psychological problem?--good choice!
- Allow you to locate a variety of information sources within the time limits of your project. Interlibrary loan is available for materials located in other libraries, but a minimum of 6-7 days is required.
The LSCC libraries offer a number of print and online sources that will help you choose just the right topic.
- 10,000 Ideas for Term Papers, Projects and Reports by Kathryn Lamm
Ref LB 1047.3 .L35 1998 -- Located at the circulation desk at the Leesburg campus. An older edition is available for check-out in the Leesburg general collection. This book provides over 10,000 topics, categorized by subject and coded by degree of difficulty.
- CQ Researcher
This weekly magazine thoroughly analyzes one controversial topic per issue. Included are analysis, charts, statistics, pro-con discussions, and an annotated bibliography. The print version from 1991 to 2001 is available in the Leesburg Library and has a cumulative index. The online version is available from the Library's Databases page. You can search or browse a list of topics.
- Contemporary World Issues
Books in this series are designed to serve as a one-stop information source on a wide variety of topics. A LINCCWeb series search for contemporary world issues will list available topics in the series.
The following book series and periodical sources are presented in a pro-con format. They deal with a variety of controversial, timely topics and the information is presented in a question/answer or pro/con format.
- Congressional Digest
A cumulative index for this monthly periodical is located at the Leesburg circulation desk.
- Current Controversies
Search the LINCCWeb catalog by Series for current controversies to retrieve a list of available books.
- Opposing Viewpoints
Search the LINCCWeb catalog by Series for opposing viewpoints to retrieve a list of available books.
- Taking Sides: Clashing Views on . . . Issues
Search the LINCCWeb catalog by Series for taking sides to retrieve a list of available books. An index for this book series is available at the Leesburg circulation desk.
The following databases will give you some good starting points for a variety of topics. Most of the articles are available full-text, so you'll find some good resources while you are searching for your topic.
- CQ Researcher
This source provides in-depth coverage of a variety of issues. It starts with background on the issue, provides a timeline of important events and concludes with the future outlook.
- Issues & Controversies
This database is similar to CQ Researcher in that it covers the topics in-depth and provides full-text. The information is well organized and easy to find.
- Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center
This database contains many of the articles from the books mentioned above. It contains full-text resources on many current and controversial topics.
- SIRS Researcher
Another full-text database, SIRS covers many topics. It provides opposing views, links to related subjects, articles, related graphics and even suggestions on using the topics in your research.
These databases are available via the Internet. Your Borrower ID is your X-ID and the PIN is your six-digit birth date.
The World Wide Web provides many sites that offer ideas for research and survey topics: