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COM 101: Composition & Research

For online COM 101 sections.

Lesson: Choosing a Topic & Creating a Research Question

In this lesson you will learn tips on how to choose a topic and how to develop a research question.  You will:

  1. Watch the "Choosing a Topic" video.
  2. Explore the links listed in the "Where to Start" box to pick up tips and learn more about how to discover topics for research.
  3. Check out the "Creating a Research Question" worksheet which will help you develop a research question. 

Choosing a Topic

Sometimes the most difficult part of the research process is choosing a topic.  Here are some tips for selecting a research question that you will enjoy learning about and will ultimately lead to a good grade.

  • Read through your assignment.  Professors design an assignment outline for a reason.  Make sure your topic can and will adhere to their requirements and guidelines.
  • Choose a topic you are interested in.  If you don't like what you're researching, chances are you won't learn a whole lot or enjoy the process.  And really, what's the point of that?  
  • Browse resources that relate to your course work.  Look through a newspaper, magazine, or database for current events or hot topics.  Browsing can spark a lot of great ideas and can help you refine your topic.
  • Ask for help!  There is nothing wrong with asking your professor or a librarian to help you brainstorm ideas.


Where to Start

The links below are great places to start in developing a research question.  Browsing current events and hot topics can spark your interest and inspire a topic.

Developing your Research Question

Below is worksheet which will help illustrate how a research question develops from a broad topic to a focused question.  This could be a helpful resource for you during the process of creating your research question.