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Module 1: Getting started with research: Choose a research topic

Choose a topic


You’ve been assigned to write a paper and have been given the opportunity to write on a topic of your choosing.  Excellent! So, what are you going to write about? Selecting a good research topic can be challenging. It’s important to take time to brainstorm and gain familiarity with a topic before beginning the writing process. This module will help you learn strategies to fully explore your research interests and develop a well-thought research question.

As a side note, before brainstorming topics for your paper, make sure you understand the specifications of the assignment. Read your assignment prompt carefully, underline key words, and refer back to the assignment prompt as you develop your research question.


Topic Development

Once you understand the requirements of your paper, you can begin exploring topics of interest and identify a research question. It’s helpful to consider your own interests, passions, and motivations when developing a research question. What do you want to learn more about? What matters to you? What information do you need to know for your future career? How do you want to make a difference in your community? In the world?

Choosing a topic that interests you will help keep you motivated and invested, which often leads to better research.  

Mind Mapping

Concept Mapping

A helpful way to document the thought process of topic development is with concept mapping. When developing a concept map, start broadly and work your way from a broad topic to a more specific, refined question.

Be bold!

Don't be afraid to pose questions to which you have no idea of the answer. That is what the research process is all about - finding answers!

Courtesy Powell Library, UCLA