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Choosing a Topic: TIPS

Choosing a topic can be the hardest part of an assignment--make it easier! This guide gives you strategies you can use right away. #research paper, #topic, #subject, #assignment


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  • Be certain that you understand the assignment before you choose something.
  • Whenever possible, choose a topic that interests you.
  • Run ideas by your professor before committing yourself to a topic.
  • Avoid overdone topics such as the death penalty, abortion, gun control, legalization of drugs, etc., and your paper will stand out in a positive way for your professor.
  • Do not choose a recent event as a topic because it takes time, at least 6 months to a year, before scholarly resources can be written and become available.  For example, while it is now possible to find scholarly journal articles for a research paper on the 9/11 terrorist attack, it would have been impossible to do so right after it happened.
  • Do not choose a local event as a topic.  It is extremely difficult, usually impossible, to find scholarly sources specific to San Bernardino, Riverside, etc., unless it is something that makes the national news such as the December 2, 2015 shooting.
  • If you run into trouble when researching your topic, get help from a librarian as soon as possible instead of changing your topic.  Jumping from topic to topic each time you run into a snag can cost you in lost time and frustration.

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