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.


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Hi! I have to write a paper.

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

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and write eight pages on it.

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I'm not sure where to start.

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Well, let's start by looking

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at a few e-resources on the library website.

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Let's try this resource called

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Opposing Viewpoints In Context.

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It's made up of books, magazines,

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newspapers and journal articles,

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also images and videos.

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Let's take a closer look.

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

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and issues or topics organized by category.

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If you're not sure what to write about

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try browsing the issues found here.

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Click Browse Issues to see all of the options.

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There's a lot here.

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You can narrow this list.

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Select a category from the pull-down menu.

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Anything look interesting?

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How about family issues?

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How about child labor?

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Everyone hates child labor.

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So here's the topic page

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on child labor, with an overview of the issue

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and lots of articles on the issue.

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First let's look at the featured viewpoints.

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These are some of the best articles on the topic.

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If you don't find anything interesting there,

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you might also try looking

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at the other viewpoints articles.

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Notice that the article starts out

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talking about how many people in America

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don't know about the child labor problem.

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That's true.

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I don't know a lot about it.

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Let's take a closer look.

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Use the table of contents to jump

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to sections of the article.

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The article says that most countries now have laws

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prohibiting work by children under a certain age.

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Yes, child labor is a problem.

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

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Well, let's try browsing the issues again.

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Remember you can narrow the list

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by selecting a category from the pull-down menu.

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Look!

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There is something on vegetarianism.

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If you want a basic introduction

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to the topic, a good place to start

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is the paragraph at the top of the page.

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Let's also look at a few articles

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in the Reference section.

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These articles come from an encyclopedia.

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Like Wikipedia?

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Yes, something like Wikipedia.

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But my teacher said I shouldn't use Wikipedia.

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I agree.

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However, unlike Wikipedia, these articles

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were written by experts.

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Not everyone can just write them.

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Let's take a look at the article.

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I didn't know there were

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environmental issues to vegetarianism

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but now that I think about it, of course.

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The article says that the livestock industry

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is a major cause of air pollution, soil erosion,

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water pollution, and acid rain.

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This is all interesting,

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but I'm also interested in animal rights.

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I wonder if there's a connection.

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Well, each article includes

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a link to related subjects.

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Try one of these related subjects.

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You might find a connection there.

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Look, there's a viewpoint article

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on treating animals on factory farms humanely.

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This is great!

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You know, I think you may have your topic.

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Remember that browsing issues or topics

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in resources like In Context is a good place to start

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when you need to find a research topic.

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Since all of the In Context resources

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

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I've just shown you.

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Good luck on your paper!