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UMW Libraries
Simpson Library | Special Collections

Research Skills for First-Year Seminars (FSEMs)

Finding a Research Topic

Finding a topic sounds easy, but finding a good topic may take some effort. Look for topic ideas in textbooks, in your class notes, in encyclopedias, and on the Internet. After you find a possible topic, you may need to make some adjustments as you learn more about that topic.  Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  •  Picking your topic IS a form of early research.
  •  When you pick a research topic, it isn’t set in stone. It’s just an idea.
  •  Test your idea by doing some exploratory research.
  •  It’s okay if your research leads you away from your original topic. You might discover a better topic.
  •  Tweak your topic in response to what you read.
  •  If there aren’t enough sources on your topic, try broadening the topic.
  •  If there are too many sources on your topic, try narrowing the topic.
  •  Even after you start writing your paper, it’s okay to go back and do more research, and tweak your topic some more.

Finding a Topic in the Simpson Library

The Simpson Library has the resources, services, and people to help you with this process.

Where to Get Ideas for Topics