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Research Process: Selecting a Topic


Selecting a Topic


Selecting a topic for a research paper can be quite challenging; however, there are various recommended resources on this page to assist you in this part of the research process. Once you have a general topic, you will need to conduct some background research to narrow your topic down. It is essential to have a focused topic in a research paper because it gives direction and clarity to your writing.


Topic Ideas

How do I get Ideas for a Research Topic?

Check out our database CQ Researcher to brainstorm for controversial issues. Click Browse Reports and select By Topic for a list of topic ideas.



You could write thousands of pages on global warming, but narrowing your focus to the impact of rising sea levels on coastal wetlands will give you a manageable topic and a clear purpose.


How do I narrow my topic?

When analyzing your topic, ask: who, what, where, when, why and how?

  • Who are the significant players? Who was impacted?
  • What are the components or aspects of the topic will you explore?
  • Where does your event take place? What locations are impacted by your topic?
  • When did the event occur and/or what is the significance of the time period on your event?
  • Why does this topic matter?
  • How does this topic impact society?

Topic Idea Websites

Websites for Topic Ideas