Self-Paced Tutorials: Finding Topics

Stuck on finding a topic for writing a paper or giving a speech? There are several sources available using the Internet, Library databases such as CQ Researcher, and the Hannon Library Catalog. 

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Internet Subject Directories and Resources

The Internet is an excellent resource for finding topics for papers. Sites like the Topic Ideas provide a list of topics to consider when trying to choose a topic. You may already know something about these topics. Other sites, such as Yahoo! Society and Culture:Issues and Causes, provide a list of topics that also contain links to authoritive resources. Here are some excellent sites for exploring research topics:

TOPICSearch

TOPICsearch is a database for finding topics from a variety of subject headings. It is an excellent place to begin to search for an idea to write about.

CQ Researcher

CQ Researcher is an online library database that publishes weekly reports about controversial and current topics.  Each report gives you background information, statistics and graphs, definitions, a summary of the current situation, a summary of the pros and cons, and a bibliography of articles and books.  Topics range from social, gender, and teen issues to environment, health, education and science and technology.

To find and use:

To find out if your topic or related topics are covered in the most recent issues of CQ Researcher:

Assignment #1

  1. Use the directions above to find an issues of CQ Researcher about a topic of interest to you. 
  2. Write down the title and the date the issue was published.
  3. Using the navigation bar near the top of the page, go to the Contacts and write down at least one contact for this topic.
  4. What is the issue raised about this topic? (Describe briefly from the report)
  5. From the Bibliography, find and list one other resource that you could use to find addition information.

Opposing Viewpoints

This is a series of books that attempt to show both sides of controversial issues by including essays from a variety of notable authors.  Each book is dedicated to one topic and contains several essays, either pro or con, that are excellent examples of argumentative writing.  Bibliographies are also included.  Recent topics include genetic engineering, America's prisons, child welfare, the war on drugs, human rights, and more.

To find and use:

To find out if your topic or related topics are covered in any of the Opposing Viewpoints books owned by the Library:

Assignment #2

Find an Opposing Viewpoints book about a topic of interest to you.  Write down the title, the author, the date published, and the call number.

Other Series

In addition to Opposing Viewpoints, the library also has several other series of books which provide topic ideas and information about current and controversial issues.  These series include Contemporary World Issues, Ideas in Conflict, and The Reference Shelf.  Recent topics covered include immigration, endangered species, school violence, Russia and Eastern Europe, volunteerism, and more.

To find and use:

Assignment #3

Use the directions above to find a book about a topic of interest to you from one of the following series Contemporary World Issues, Ideas in Conflict, or The Reference Shelf.  Write down the title, the author, the date published, and the call number.

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Please direct inquiries about this page to Dale Vidmar.