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HIST488RW Racial Violence in Modern America / Jason Ward

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?

Find Background and Reference Information

Background information can help you learn more about your topic. Background information can give you an overview of your topic and introduce you to concepts, trends, vocabulary, events, etc. around your topic. Wikipedia and Google can often be good places to go for some basic background information. Library databases can also help you find detailed and informative background information on your topic.

These databases can help you find background information.