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English 106/108: Choosing a Topic

This guide has been created for students of English 106 and 108 to help them learn the Libraries' services and get help when they need it.

Developing Your Research Question

  • Choose a topic that interests you. It will be much easier to research, analyze, and write about!
  • Use your class discussions, current world events, or class texts for inspiration.
  • Do some preliminary research, such as reading a newspaper or scanning an encyclopedia article.
  • Find your voice: What is the point you ultimately want to make? Try writing your topic as a statement or question.

Narrowing a Topic: A Short Video

Getting Started: Online Reference

Sometimes choosing a topic can be the hardest part of a research paper. Using encyclopedias or online reference tools can help you get the big picture of a topic so you can then narrow your focus to what really interests you.

Subject Encyclopedias in Purdue's Collection

You can use encyclopedias as catalogs of topics. To find specialized encyclopedias in Purdue's catalog, click on "Advanced Search" on the Libraries' homepage.

Then key in:

in top box: encyc*
in second box: subject area, e.g. nanotechnology
or food
or crim* (for crimes, criminology, etc.)

Pros and Cons -- Books

These books provide informed pro/con and point/counterpoint viewpoints on a variety of controversial research topics.