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Information Literacy and Library Instruction: How Do I Choose a Topic?

Find Information - Part Two: How Do I Choose a Topic?

Learning Objectives

  • Researchers will know how to distinguish between topics they’re curious about and those they merely like
  • Researchers will understand the risks associated with having an extremely strong opinion on a topic
  • Researchers will know how to use questions to generate a specific and focused research topic
  • Researchers will understand that academic research involves learning things they don’t know, not simply proving what they think they do

Finding a Topic You Are Curious About 

  • Very good for most classes if the students are allowed to choose their own topic.
  • 2m 35s

The Trouble with Strong Opinions 

  • Good for students writing persuasive topics and they can choose their own topic, if time permits. It is kind of a long piece.
  • 1m 24s

Asking Questions 

  • More in-depth look at forming a research question – recommends exploring a little.
  • Useful as a follow-up to the earlier choosing a topic modules, if time permits.
  • 2m 40s

Finding a Gap in the Literature 

  • Helps students get past the obvious topics that are overdone.
  • Would be very good for all beginning to intermediate classes if students are allowed to choose their own topic.
  • 1 m 48s

Narrowing Your Topic 

  • Presents a few ways to narrow are listed.
  • Good for beginning to intermediate classes but a bit limited. May have to expand the content on your own.
  • 2m 47s

Marijuana Legalization Example

  • Pretty advanced suggestions for narrowing the topic.
  • Would use in more advanced classes.
  • 2m 21s

No Easy Topics 

  • Would be very good in most classes if students are allowed to choose their own topics.
  • 0m 58s


  • Uses the Topic Aid tool, which has limitations as a search tool (see below).
  • Would not use with classes until the Topic Aid tool is perfected.


  • Good explanation of advanced terms related to a hypothesis, etc.
  • Would use in any classes requiring a hypothesis, etc.

Topic Aid

  • Does not work well with inquiries involving extraneous words, which students tend to include in their search queries. Also, the articles it generated had a note that said do not use in a formal research paper – kind of confusing. Needs perfecting.