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Art

Need an idea? 

A great research topic idea can come from anywhere. Here are some helpful places you can start: 

  • Class discussions
  • News / Current Events
  • Personal Interests 
  • Class Readings 
  • VCSU Library Research Help Desk

Explore your subject

When you begin exploring your subject, you will want to begin by discovering background information. The VCSU Library is a great place to start to find background information (see links below).

One thing you want to keep in mind when searching for background information is that you are going to be spending a lot of time researching and writing on this topic - make sure it is a topic of interest to you! 

When exploring your topic remember that what you first select is not set in stone. Your topic can flow and change as you explore new areas and find new paths.

 

Here are some helpful places for you to begin exploring your topic: 

Refine your topic

Now that you've done some background research, it's time to narrow your topic. Remember: the shorter your final paper, the narrower your topic needs to be. Will you need to narrow or broaden your topic?

Here are a few helpful ways that you can refine your topic: 

Narrowing Topics: 

  • Demographics: Narrow by age group, occupation, ethnic group, gender identity, etc. 
    • Example: challenges faced by international college graduates entering the workforce
  • Relevant issues: Try to identify key issues related to your topic (especially ones you have an opinion on). 
    • Example: challenges faced by college graduates who are unable to find meaningful or relevant work
  • Location: Narrow by location of your subjects. 
    • Example: challenges faced by college graduates who are unable to find meaningful or relevant work in North Dakota
  • Timeframe: Decide whether you want to study recent events or a historical time period. This will also help you decide how current the information you use must be. 
    • Example: challenges faced by college graduates who are unable to find meaningful or relevant work in North Dakota during the COVID-19 pandemic

Broadening Topics:

Having trouble finding sources on your topic? Your topic may be too narrow - ask yourself the following questions to begin broadening your topic: 

  • Is your topic too specific? Generalize what your are looking for. 
    • Example: If your topic is narrowed on a specific geographic location, try broadening it (North Dakota -> Midwest / USA / North America). 
  • Is your topic too new? Topics must be around for several years before anything substantive to be written. If you are researching a recently breaking news event, you are likely to only find information in the news media. 
  • Are you using the right databases? Use the library website or this guide to find databases in your subject area. Remember: all databases are different and some may cover certain topics better than others. If you need help finding sources contact a VCSU librarian!