Where to Start When You Need a Research Topic

This tutorial highlights some quick techniques for developing a research topic with the help of your In Context resources.

Hi! I have to write a paper.

We have to choose an issue that's important to us

and write eight pages on it.

I'm not sure where to start.

Well, let's start by looking

at a few e-resources on the library website.

Let's try this resource called

Opposing Viewpoints In Context.

It's made up of books, magazines,

newspapers and journal articles,

also images and videos.

Let's take a closer look.

Here you'll find featured issues, video, news,

and issues or topics organized by category.

If you're not sure what to write about

try browsing the issues found here.

Click Browse Issues to see all of the options.

There's a lot here.

You can narrow this list.

Select a category from the pull-down menu.

Anything look interesting?

How about family issues?

How about child labor?

Everyone hates child labor.

So here's the topic page

on child labor, with an overview of the issue

and lots of articles on the issue.

First let's look at the featured viewpoints.

These are some of the best articles on the topic.

If you don't find anything interesting there,

you might also try looking

at the other viewpoints articles.

Notice that the article starts out

talking about how many people in America

don't know about the child labor problem.

That's true.

I don't know a lot about it.

Let's take a closer look.

Use the table of contents to jump

to sections of the article.

The article says that most countries now have laws

prohibiting work by children under a certain age.

Yes, child labor is a problem.

But I'm not sure I want to write about that.

Well, let's try browsing the issues again.

Remember you can narrow the list

by selecting a category from the pull-down menu.


There is something on vegetarianism.

If you want a basic introduction

to the topic, a good place to start

is the paragraph at the top of the page.

Let's also look at a few articles

in the Reference section.

These articles come from an encyclopedia.

Like Wikipedia?

Yes, something like Wikipedia.

But my teacher said I shouldn't use Wikipedia.

I agree.

However, unlike Wikipedia, these articles

were written by experts.

Not everyone can just write them.

Let's take a look at the article.

I didn't know there were

environmental issues to vegetarianism

but now that I think about it, of course.

The article says that the livestock industry

is a major cause of air pollution, soil erosion,

water pollution, and acid rain.

This is all interesting,

but I'm also interested in animal rights.

I wonder if there's a connection.

Well, each article includes

a link to related subjects.

Try one of these related subjects.

You might find a connection there.

Look, there's a viewpoint article

on treating animals on factory farms humanely.

This is great!

You know, I think you may have your topic.

Remember that browsing issues or topics

in resources like In Context is a good place to start

when you need to find a research topic.

Since all of the In Context resources

work the same way, you'll find the same features

I've just shown you.

Good luck on your paper!