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SOC 4660: Advanced Criminology: Finding a Topic and Searching Tips

Finding a Topic

(Taken from Kate Langan's Libguide: ENG 1050 Thought and Writing)

1. Use the following questions to help you generate topic ideas:

  • Be original! Is there something about you that makes you unique and is also a good research topic?
  • What is going on in current events? Is there a news story that you would like to research further?
  • Do you have hobbies or interests that you would like to know more about?
  • Career or school related interests?
  • Do you have a strong opinion on a current social or political controversy?
  • Is there an aspect of one of your courses you are interested in learning more about?

2. Browse some of these sources:

3. Make sure it is a manageable topic that can be done in the number of pages you are allotted.  It may be helpful to avoid overused topics as there can be an overwhelmingly amount of information (death penalty, abortion, immigration etc.)

  • Topic is too broad?  You'll find too much information
  • Topic too narrow? You won't fnd enough information
  • Concept mapping helps you visualize your ideas. explore what youknow, what you want to know, and where you want to lead your discussion. 

4. Ask Yourself Questions About Your Topic…

  • What do you already know about your topic?
  • What do you want to know about your topic?
  • What aspects of your topic interest you: historical, sociological, psychological, etc.
  • What time period do you want to cover?
  • On what geographic area do you want to focus?

List of possible topics for research

A list of topics taken from "Choose a Topic" in the University of Illinois LibGuide: www.library.illinois.edu/ugl/howdoi/topic.html#resources:

Business

  • Cybersecurity
  • E-business
  • Ethics
  • Glass ceiling
  • Online retail
  • Outsourcing
  • Sweatshops
  • White collar crime

Crime and Law

  • Acquaintance rape
  • Animal rights
  • Assisted suicide
  • Campus violence
  • Capital punishment
  • Civil rights
  • Drinking age, legal
  • Drug legalization
  • Gun control
  • Hate crimes
  • Insanity defense
  • Mandatory Minimum sentencing
  • Patriot Act
  • Police brutality
  • Prisons and prisoners
  • Roe vs. Wade
  • Serial killers
  • Sex crimes
  • Sexual harassment
  • Three Strikes Law

Drugs and Drug Abuse

  • Alcohol
  • Cocaine
  • Doping in sports
  • Drug testing
  • Drunk driving
  • Heroin
  • Marijuana
  • Nicotine

Education

  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Charter schools
  • College admission policies
  • College athletes
  • College tuition planning
  • Distance education
  • Diploma mills
  • Education and funding
  • Grade inflation
  • Greek letter societies
  • Hazing
  • Home schooling
  • Intelligence tests
  • Learning disabilities
  • Literacy in America
  • Mascots in Sports (Chief Illiniwek)
  • No Child Left Behind
  • Plagiarism
  • Prayer in schools
  • Sex education
  • School vouchers
  • Standardized tests

Environmental

  • Acid rain
  • Alternative fuel/hybrid vehicles
  • Conservation
  • Deforestation
  • Endangered species
  • Energy
  • Global warming
  • Greenhouse effect
  • Landfills
  • Marine pollution
  • Nuclear energy
  • Oil spills
  • Pesticides
  • Pollution
  • Population control
  • Radioactive waste disposal
  • Recycling
  • Wildlife conservation

Family issues

  • Battered woman syndrome
  • Child abuse
  • Divorce rates
  • Domestic abuse
  • Family relationships
  • Family values

Health

  • Abortion
  • AIDS
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Alternative medicine
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Artificial insemination
  • Autism
  • Birth control
  • Bulimia
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Dietary supplements
  • Drug abuse
  • Dyslexia
  • Exercise and fitness
  • Fad diets
  • Fast food
  • Heart disease
  • HIV infection
  • In vitro fertilization
  • Medicaid/Medicare reform
  • Obesity
  • Organic foods
  • Prescription drugs
  • Plastic surgery
  • Sleep
  • Smoking
  • Stem cell research
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Vegetarianism
  • Weight loss surgery

Media and Communications

  • Body image
  • Censorship
  • Children's programming and advertising
  • Copyright Law
  • Freedom of speech
  • Materialism
  • Media bias
  • Media conglomerates/ownership
  • Minorities in mass media
  • Political correctness
  • Portrayal of women
  • Reality television
  • Stereotypes
  • Talk radio
  • Television violence

Political Issues

  • Affirmative Action
  • Budget deficit
  • Electoral College
  • Election reform
  • Emigration
  • Genocide
  • Illegal aliens
  • Immigration
  • Impeachment
  • International relations
  • Medicaid/Medicare reform
  • Operation Enduring Iraqi Freedom
  • Partisan politics
  • Prescription drugs
  • Social Security Reform
  • Third parties
  • Taxes

Psychology

  • Child abuse
  • Criminal psychology
  • Depression
  • Dreams
  • Intelligence tests
  • Learning disabilities
  • Memory
  • Physical attraction
  • Schizophrenia

Religion

  • Cults
  • Freedom of religion
  • Occultism
  • Prayer in schools

Social Issues

  • Abortion
  • Adoption
  • Airline safety/security
  • Affirmative Action programs
  • AIDS
  • Apartheid
  • Birth control
  • Child abuse
  • Child rearing
  • Discrimination in education
  • Employee rights
  • Gambling/online gaming
  • Gang identity
  • Gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender
  • Gay parenting
  • Gender discrimination
  • Genetic screening
  • Homelessness
  • Identity theft
  • Interracial marriage
  • Poverty
  • Race relations
  • Reverse discrimination
  • Suffrage
  • Suicide
  • Test biases
  • Textbook biases
  • Welfare

Terrorism

  • Bioterrorism
  • Homeland Security
  • September 11

Women and Gender

  • Abortion
  • Birth control and Pregnancy
  • Body image
  • Cultural expectations and practices
  • Discrimination
  • Eating disorders
  • Education
  • Feminism
  • Health
  • LGBT issues
  • Marriage and Divorce
  • Media portrayals
  • Parenting
  • Prostitution
  • Sex and Sexuality
  • Sports
  • Stereotypes
  • Substance abuse
  • Violence and Rape
  • Work

TIps for Narrowing a Broad Topic

Example:

Too broad:  anxiety and college students

Narrower: What are some ways to alleviate test anxiety in college students?               

Watch this short video:  Narrowing your topic               

Boolean Searching

http://www.gavilan.edu/library/LIB99/unit6websearching_17.html

Keyword Search Strategies

1) Use the AND connector to search for different concepts

     Example:  prisons AND animal training programs

2) Use the OR connector to search for variant words for the same  concept

     Example:  cars OR automobiles

Note: To use the AND connector and OR connector in a single search string use parenthesis around the similar words

    Example: (white collar crime* OR corporate computer fraud) AND whistleblowing

3) Use truncation to capture different possible endings for a word

     Example:  child* (captures child, children, childhood)