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Getting Started with Research

Learn about the research process from topic to writing and citing. Find information about locating sources such as books, articles, and films.

Where to get Ideas

Green lightbulb icon from Noun Project In some cases, your professor or instructor will give you a topic. In others, you need to come up with your own. Here are some places to get ideas:

  • Class readings
  • News
  • Conversations with others
  • Visiting your professor's office hours
  • Consulting with your Librarian
  • Podcasts
  • Inspiration from your environment

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Getting Started with Research - Choosing a Topic

Picking Your Topic

Sometimes you have too many ideas... or you have no idea where to begin.

Shelves full of a variety of candy sticks   or   Almost Empty food shelves at a grocery store


Getting Started 

  • Make sure you understand your assignment. Talk to your professor or graduate assistant if you have any questions.
  • Think about your interests. What would you like to spend time learning more about? Look over your course materials and lecture notes for ideas. Write down a list of keywords and phrases that interest you.
  • Use a topic ideas database such as Opposing Viewpoints in Context or SIRS Issues Reearcher. Read current periodicals, browse the internet, and check out reference resources and encyclopedias such as Oxford Reference and Gale Virtual Reference Library
  • Be careful not to pick a topic too narrow or too broad. You might not be able to find enough relevant information or you might be overwhelmed with too much information. As you start your research, you might need to adjust your topic. 
  • Check out the Research Guide for your subject area, which will include links to helpful resources. 

Choosing Your Topic is Research (Video Tutorial)

Watch this short video from NC State University Libraries about choosing a research topic.

Selecting and Using Keywords (Video Tutorial)

Check out the video from the Darrell W. Kruger Library to help you locate scholarly journal articles in library databases. 

Kruger Library - Winona State University. Selecting & Using Keywords. YouTube.