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First Year Students

This is a Research Guide for First Year students

Select a Topic

To brainstorm some topics, you may want to visit this web site ( for some ideas!

Another great database that we subscribe to that provides great topics are Opposing Viewpoints in Context

1. First, select a topic that interests you. The process of finding information should be fun and you should select a topic that you have a personal passion about. 

2. Start with searching the topic in an Encyclopedia to get a general idea, or obtain background information on the topic.

3. Narrow down the topic to a geographical area, gender, age, culture, etc. Focusing your topic makes it less overwhelming. You won't be bombarded with too much information.

4. Ask your professor if you need information from a specific time frame (last ten years).

5. Where might this information be found? In a newspaper, magazine, web site, academic journal, YouTube, blog, television news? If the information is so current, it won't be found in an encyclopedia but only in a newspaper or magazine.

6. What are the research questions for your topic?  Is there a debate about the topic?  

7. Is your topic relevant at the local, state, national or international level?  

8. Think about the keywords you will use when you start doing the research.

9. Think about synonyms (similar words) that mean the same thing.