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Research Fundamentals: 1. Choose A Topic

Proceed through each tab in this guide and learn how to become more efficient and skilled at library research.

Choosing a Topic

Choosing your topic is the first part of the research process. If you are free to choose your own topic, pick something you are actually interested in learning about! Then, to see if you have a viable topic for research, you need to do some exploratory searching of the web and library databases. If your topic is too broad, you will have trouble covering it in a paper. If your topic is too narrow, you will have trouble finding sources. Based on the initial results of your searches, you may find you need to broaden, narrow, or change your topic completely.  Remember to check with your professor before you change your topic!

Watch this three-minute video from NCSU Libraries on how to pick a topic. 

Libnscu.  (2014, May 1).  Picking your topic is research! [Video]. YouTube.

Try one of these places to get ideas for a topic:

  • Your textbook
  • Class lectures
  • Conversations with your professor or classmates
  • Social media, journals, or conference proceedings in your area of interest 


Other resources for topic ideas: