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World Languages and Literatures Research Guide

Generating Ideas for a Research Topic

You have been asked to write or present about a research topic, but how do you come up with a topic? Here is a process to help.

  1. Think about what has been discussed in class. What are some broad topics that immediately come to mind?
  2. Skim your textbook, course readings, and notes for these topics. What do you already know about these topics?
  3. What would you like to know more about each topic? Phrase it as a question.

Selecting a Topic

Now that you have a few broad topics, you need to select one that is appropriate for the assignment, has enough information available, and will hold your interest. For each of the topics you have generated, search a few keywords in Google, Library Search, and Google Scholar.

  • Is there a lot of information available or only a few sources?
  • What words are being used in titles and abstracts (article summaries) to describe the topic?
  • Are there names, dates, places, things, etc. that are repeatedly mentioned?
  • Is there anything more specific about a topic that sounds interesting?


For help using Google, Library Search, and Google Scholar, check out these guides:

Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Encyclopedias and dictionaries are a great place to get a quick definition or brief overview of a topic.