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Research 101

Research Companion

Finding a topic

Choosing a topic is the first step in the research process. 

Things to consider when picking a topic:

  • Find something that you are curious about.
  • Think about the subject area that you are choosing from.
  • Pick something you can learn more about through research.
  • Browse databases and websites to get a general understanding about the topic.
  • Make sure your topic is manageable and that material is available


Places to get good ideas for topics:

Make sure to write down key terms from what you find. Also save your initial search for information to use later when you are organizing your information.

What is the assignment

Think about the assignment that you are doing a research paper for. There are lots of questions to think about when you are doing your research about your topic.

Things to consider about your assignment:

  • What kind of assignment is it?
  • How many resources do I need for my topic?
  • Think about the questions that are asked in your research
  • What types of publications do you want to read - newspaper articles, books, journal articles, trade publications
  • Which citation style should you use?
  • Who is your audience?

Narrowing your topic

Focus your topic to make it more manageable to do research on. A broad topic will make it difficult to to do research if that topic is too broad or narrow.

Ways to narrow your topic:

ProQuest Reserach Companion has a topic aid tool that give you topic suggestions and links to overviews. There is also a search aid tool that give you suggestions for alternative search terms.

Topic Aid:

Search Aid:


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