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Research Resources Toolkit: Choosing a Topic and Finding Articles

Organizing Your Thoughts

A mind map (a diagram to organize information) can help you organize the different angles of your topic.  Try using one if you feel overwhelmed by the number of ideas or resources.

Starting Out

You will start your paper by doing some background research about your topic.

Your textbook states, "Becoming familiar with some existing research on your topic can provide valuable background informaiton and give you an overview of the topic . . . [and] help you discover issues that have not been researched -- or perhaps even identified" (450).

Below are some places to find background on your issue. Some questions to think of while researching your topic are:

  • When did this first become an issue?
  • Why is it an issue?
  • Who does it affect?
  • What's been said about it in the past?
  • What else do I need to know about it?

Argument Prompts

Over 1,000 Writing Prompts for Students

Published by the New York Times, this list is divided into topics. All prompts link to articles, videos, and images from the New York Times.

Topic Index:

  • Technology (1-74):
    • Social Media
    • Smartphones
    • Internet & Tech
  • Arts & Entertainment (75-248):
    • Music
    • Television
    • Video Games
    • Movies & Theater
    • Books & Reading
    • Writing
    • The Arts
    • Language & Speech
  • School & Career (249-449):
    • School
    • Learning & Studying
    • Education Tech
    • Teachers & Grading
    • School Rules & Student Life
    • College
    • Work & Careers
  • Identity & Family (450-833):
    • Parenting
    • Family
    • Childhood Memories
    • Growing Up
    • Overcoming Adversity
    • Your Personality
    • Religion & Morality
    • Role Models
    • Gender
    • Race & Ethnicity
    • Neighborhood & Home
    • Money & Social Class
    • What If...
  • Social Life & Leisure Time (834-1,065):
    • Friendship
    • Dating & Sex
    • Looks & Fashion
    • Food
    • Sports & Games
    • Travel
    • Holidays & Seasons
    • Shopping & Cars
  • Science & Health (1,066-1,146):
    • Science & Environment
    • Animals & Pets
    • Exercise & Health
  • Civics & History (1,147-1,225):
    • Guns & the Justice System
    • Government Policy
    • History & News

Quick Search

You can start with a quick search of everything the library has.

*Caution: you may get too many!


Organizing your Thoughts

Where to find articles

You may need popular and/or scholarly articles.  These databases have both.

When searching Academic Search Premier:

It's to the upper right of your search results.

Reference E-Books

Pro/Con Databases

Some professors don't like students using Opposing Viewpoints for articles, so check before relying on information you find in it.

Selecting a Topic

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