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ENGL101 / 105 - Research Paper Assignment Guide: Get Started

Find a Topic

Where to Find Ideas

Class discussions and readings 

Check the index or table of contents of books on the broader topic:
Articles in subject specific journals or websites.
(Just click the magnifying glass search box at each link and  type in your topic)

Gather Background Information

The Benefits of Starting With Background Information

  • Get a better idea of the topic and how it relates to other issues.  
  • Determining all sides to an issue helps with narrowing the focus
  • Identify experts related to the topic, who you can research in article databases

Background Resources

Type your topic into a search box one of these resources for an overview

Go to NYTIMES.COM/PASSES and create your FREE account.


Narrow the Topic

This is where you get down to the nitty gritty and actually develop your thesis statement or research question.

Three W's of Narrowing a Topic

  • What? What aspect of the broader topic is interesting to you
  • Where?  Is there a specific area or region on which you would like to focus?
  • When?  Is recent research important, or is there an historical aspect you would like to include

Help Choosing a Topic

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