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Getting a Handle on the Research Project (FYS 199L) : Getting a Topic

Some things to think about when approaching research assignments.


Choosing a topic is the first step in the research process and brainstorming can help you generate ideas for your project. Brainstorming is asking some basic questions on what you know and what you might want to know more about. These are some questions that can be asked to get the wheels turning:

  • Has your instructor given you topic options?
  • Is there anything from the class lectures, notes or textbook, that you would like to learn more about?
  • Do you feel strongly about a current issue?
  • Do you have knowledge or experience with a given subject?
  • Have you seen in the news anything that might interest you?

One of the objectives in brainstorming is to find keywords that express your topic. A useful tool that can help you brainstorm and identify keywords is the concept map. This link from the library at Penn State University can introduce you to the idea of concept mapping:

Other Resources that Can Help You Brainstorm

These library databases can be very useful in helping you brainstorm:

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