One of the most important steps in preparing for a successful paper or project is finding a good topic. Asking "how" or "why" questions about things you have seen or experienced can help lead you to good research topic.
A good topic will be:
Here are three steps that can help you arrive at a good topic that will enable you to produce a successful paper or project.
Step 1. Brainstorm
Take out a blank piece of paper, or, open up a new document on your computer and begin to list all of the areas or ideas that are of interest to you.
You may want to scan a subject encyclopedia or topic companion (e.g. The Blackwell Companion to Religion in America or the Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East & North Africa, or the Oxford Companion to United States History). The resources can help familiarize you with various topics, about which you may have an interest, and will provide useful background information, terminology, and additional bibliographic resources.
Step 2. Scan the academic literature for articles and books related to the idea(s) that you have identified.
Begin to search the library's catalog and databases to see what has already been written about the idea(s) you have identified. This is where your keywords and background information will come in handy. Use these keywords to broaden and refine your search. Once you have found several articles or books related to your topic, take some time to carefully skim their arguments and conclusions.
This step can also help you better understand what Buswell Library holds in their local collections in support of your research. Before you become fully set on your topic, it is wise to ensure that the library can provide you with enough primary and secondary resources to support your entire project.
Step 3. Focus your information to formulate an argument
Once you have begun to identify ideas of interest and how much (or little) they have been studied and written about, you can being to make decisions about how you might refine your ideas and assemble your information findings into meaningful answers.
Consider asking yourself the following questions as you begin to narrow your ideas into arguments.
Step 4: Begin Your Search
Once you have refined your idea, you are ready to begin your search for sources.