In this lesson we discuss selecting a research
topic and beginning the research process. The
objective is to have you organize your thoughts
in order to make the process easier.
Writing an excellent college research paper is
complex. Approaching the process in a logical
manner makes for an excellent learning
Organizing from the outset saves you time and
increases the quality of results.
Thinking It Through
If you have the option of
selecting to choose your own
topic, make it is a subject
that interests you.
Satisfying your curiosity
makes the work much more
enjoyable and you may
already know a great deal
about the topic.
When selecting your topic you
should ask if there are adequate
resources available to you in
order to develop the topic?
Check with a librarian to see if
the resources you need are
available through the library.
The librarian can help you
locate materials whether in the
library or from other libraries
using inter-library loan.
How soon is the paper due?
Finding the right materials takes time. Reading
your research takes time. Writing the paper takes
When selecting a topic make sure that you can
manage your time to do the research, acquire
information and the properly compose your
Is your theme too broad or too
Finding the right balance
takes thought. This can be
difficult. You might start with
a topic and find there’s not
enough time or resources to
do exactly what you need to
Be flexible enough to
broaden or narrow your
research to meet class
Thinking broadly is great for many
In the process of developing a
research topic this is not the case.
It’s best to be precise about the
subject you want to explore.
Test yourself to see what you already know about
the Abraham Lincoln. Create a list of words that
you feel are relevant to your research interest.
Narrow the Topic
The more you can focus your
thoughts the easier the research
Let’s look at Lincoln’s speeches.
The topics in Lincoln’s speeches
reflect the history that surrounded
Early speeches dealt with topics of
secession, states rights and slavery.
Later speeches had similar subject
matter but they were given during
the Civil War when the nation was
deep in physical conflict.
Focus on one of Lincoln’s speeches.
Your topic can be narrowed down to a
specific speech, the Gettysburg
Address for instance, with its influences
Look closely at those influences and
Frame the topic as a series of questions.
Why did Lincoln give this speech?
When did he give this speech?
How was the speech received?
Your questions can help focus your
searching for information.
Remember the Audience
Focus your ideas with your
audience in mind (read professor).
Remember that all your research
will be used to build an argument or
defend a position on the topic. The
research should enforce your ideas.
Or it may indicate that you need a
change of opinion.
Either way, your ideas about the
research are important!
It’s your ideas that mean the most to
Your ideas supported by your research.
You are writing about this
topic for a reason. It's either
your own interest or
something your professor
feels that you should know.
Focus your thoughts by
determining what you want
to learn from the research.
Always ask the
“What do I want to
know about this
It’s your education,
make the most of it.
Yes, your education is really all about you.
What outcomes do you want from this research?
Yes you want an A+.
However, this is more
about a learning
The process of
researching a topic should
change your perspective
about that topic.
Next we’ll begin to look at the
materials used for academic
We’ll answer the question
“What type of resources do you