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Evaluating Information in the Research Process: Step 2: Choose a Topic

Created by Health Science Librarians

Step 2: Choose a Topic

StepStep 2: Choose a Topic

The ideal topic allows you to meet the requirements of the assignment by exploring something that intensely interests you. 

If you don’t already know what you want to investigate, brainstorm and reflect on what you would like to do. At this stage, you can choose a general topic.  You can refine your topic later (in Step 4). 

Brainstorm possible topics

The idea of brainstorming is to generate and write down as many ideas as possible--no matter how ridiculous or impractical--without censoring or rejecting any of them. 

Come up with as many ideas for topics as you can and write all of them down, no matter how great, poor, or absurd. The goal at this point is quantity, not quality. After brainstorming for five or ten minutes, take a look at what you came up with. 

Reflect on your project 

  • What questions do you have about the subject you are exploring?

  • What perplexes you?

Think of your project as a journey. You can’t possibly know all the answers in advance (if you did, why bother going?). But you can ask questions. They can help you identify a topic you would like to pursue. 

Write down your questions and reflect on them. 

Consider your audience 

Identify your audience. Unless you are doing research purely for personal satisfaction, you are probably going to analyze the information you collect and then present your findings to someone. 

  • To whom will you be presenting your findings?

  • How can you frame your topic in a way that addresses the needs of your audience? 

Choose a topic

Based on your brainstorming, reflections, and audience, choose a topic to investigate. Remember that this choice is not cast in concrete. As you explore further, you will no doubt modify and refine your topic. You may even decide to change your topic.  Write your topic as a statement, such as "I want to know..." or, "my audience wants to know...", etc.

Outcomes for Step 2: Choose a Topic

  • A list of possible topics 

  • Questions 

  • Identification of intended audience 

  • Initial Topic Statement


NEXT:  Step 3, Do initial search