Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

The Research Process: A Step-By-Step Guide: 1a. Select a Topic

This guide walks you through the steps of the research process.

Tip!

Choose a topic that interests you and will hold your attention. If you do, the research will be more enjoyable!

Topic Ideas

Can’t think of a topic to research? 

  • Scan your textbook for broad topic ideas.
  • Peruse current magazines and newspapers to see what catches your eye.
  • Browse print and electronic encyclopedias.
  • Look at "hot topic" databases, such as ProCon.org, SKS
  • Discuss potential topics with your instructor, a librarian or a classmate.

The Research Assignment

Before selecting a topic or starting your research, make sure you understand your assignment and its requirements. Consider the following:

  • Have you been assigned a topic or can you pick your own?
  • How many pages/words do you need to write? How long is your presentation?
  • Do you need to include specific types of sources? (e.g. scholarly journal, book, etc.)
  • When is the assignment due? How much time do you have to research?
  • Is currency of information important?

When in doubt, consult with your instructor.

Selecting a Topic

Used with permission from Western Navada College.

Subject Guide

Profile Photo
Lynda Kennedy
Contact:
Clara Wood Gould Memorial Library

College of Coastal Georgia

One College Drive

Brunswick, GA 31520

912-279-5782

Annotated Bibliographies

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations followed by a descriptive summary and evaluation. Sometimes the annotation will reflect the applicability of the source to the needs of the researcher. The purpose of this type of bibliography is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.

Example:
Gurko, Leo. Ernest Hemingway and the Pursuit of Heroism. New York: Crowell, 1968. This book is part of a series called "Twentieth Century American Writers": a Brief Introduction to the Man and his Work. After fifty pages of straight biography, Gurko discussed Hemingway's writing, novel by novel. There's an index and a short bibliography, but no notes. The biographical part is clear and easy to read, but it sounds too much like a summary.

Example borrowed from the Writing Center at UNC- Chapel Hill.