Developing a good, viable research topic takes time and skill. While many instructors may assign topics, you may also be required to select your own topic of interest. Or, you may be required to expand on a specific topic across your studies. You'll want to identify a topic that is sufficiently narrow and focused to be interesting and manageable; yet broad enough to find adequate information. There are a few points you'll want to consider when preparing to conduct your research.
Sources for Finding a Research Topic
Finding the best resources for a research paper or project doesn't happen without some effort. Creating a search strategy is a key component for retrieving relevant search results.
Basic Steps to Formulating a Search Strategy:
Zero or very few results?
Don't worry. This isn't unusual. Information research is a continual process of defining and refining your strategy. You might need to perform multiple searches before finding the bank of good, usable information.
First, revise your search, trying different keywords. Try a broader search using synonyms or related topics to your search. If your initial searches returned some results, look at those for additional keywords to use in refining your topic.
Try your search in a different database. Topics can span multiple subject areas.
Overwhelmed by thousands of results?
Like finding too few results, it isn’t unusual to retrieve too many results. This is another instance when you want to refine your strategy.
First, revise your search by adding additional keywords and using AND to link concepts and help narrow your potential results. If your initial searches return some useful results, look at those records for additional keywords to use in refining your topic.
Try using limits, such as publication date or source type (e.g., magazines, academic journals, etc.). Or, limit your search to full text or scholarly (peer reviewed) journals.
Select subject-specific databases to retrieve results more closely related to your keywords.