Skip to Main Content

AFS 365W|HIST 365W: Slavery and Abolition in Africa

Develop Your Research Topic

Choosing a research topic can be tricky. Here are some tips to help you get started with selecting and developing your topic.

Brainstorm - Brainstorm different areas of interest and topic ideas. You can check the following places for inspiration.

  • Your class syllabus and class readings - looks for themes and ideas that interest you
  • Check the news and run a web search - browse online for current events or content that seems interesting
  • Browse our library databases - test out topic ideas and see what you discover

Explore and test out your topic idea - try searching for your topic online and in library databases to see what you find. Are you finding information that you can use for your research assignment? Is what you are finding interesting to you?

Scope your topic - sometimes a topic can be too broad or too narrow to start. Refine your topic with these tips

  • Narrow topics - if you aren't finding information, think about ways to broaden or expand your idea. What are some larger themes or concepts that you could explore in your topic?
  • Broad topics - if you are overwhelmed with search results and feel that your sources are all over the place, think about how you can narrow things down. Is there a specific detail, place, person, event, etc. that you can focus on for your research?

Talk to an expert - research which faculty members and graduate students at Emory specialize in the area you are researching. Reach out via email and see if they have the time to chat with you about resources, texts, or authors you should look into while you are researching your topic. While they may not be able to read your research proposal they will be able to recommend additional reading to help you develop your research topic.

Find Background and Reference Information