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 a college research paper is complex.
Approaching the process in a logical manner
makes for an excellent learning experience.
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 interlibrary 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 between
broad and narrow topic selection
takes thought. This can be difficult.
You might start with one topic and
find there’s not enough time or
resources to explore it properly.
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
Look at Lincoln’s speeches. The
topics in Lincoln’s speeches reflect
the history that surrounded him.
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
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
Look for specific reasons for the
Look for specific effects the speech
had on individuals or the country.
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 you in focusing
your search 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 results of your research should
enforce your ideas. It may, also,
indicate that you need a change of
Either way, your ideas about the
research are important!
It’s your ideas that mean the
most to your professor.
Your ideas supported by the results
of 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.
It’s your education,
make the most of it.
Ask yourself, “What do
I want to know about
Your education is all about you.
What outcomes do you want from this research?
Yes you want an A+.
However, this is about a
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 research.
Answering the question, “What sources are available for your research?”
Do the student activity for this lesson.
After that proceed to the next lesson.
Revised Wednesday, February 4, 2015