ENGL 101 English Composition 1

Getting Started on a Research Project

This page offers some starting places for generating research topic ideas. 

Please keep in mind that research is a process. Exploring ideas is part of that process and can help you take a broad initial interest and hone it into a researchable topic.

Also keep in mind that the topic you ultimately select to research needs to meet your assignment!

Explore Topic Ideas

Find Ideas in Current Issues Databases

Browse for Topic Ideas in Holman Library's current issues databases.

Return to these databases to gather background information and to get a sense of the range of positions taken on an issue. 

  • Note: Be sure to look for sources in other databases as well. Content in Opposing Viewpoints is largely editorial.

How to Explore Gale in Context Databases

Step 1: 

Look over broad topic areas on the homepage. This example illustrates the homepage for enviromental issues in context. (click on image to enlarge)

Homepage - Browse for Ideas - gale in context databases

Step 2: 

Click on a category that interests you - or go right to a topic! The image below show the list of 62 topics under Global Change. (Click on image to enlarge)

Browse 62 topics under Global Change

How to Explore Ideas in CQ Researcher

Step 1: Explore by Reports, Topics, or Hot Topics. 

  • Hot Topics is a list of current short reports
  • Reports - select Issue Tracker for a list of Reports by Issue
  • Topics - select a broad area of interest and then filter down to topics of interest

click on image to enlarge

CQ Explore Reports and Issues

Explore Topic Ideas in a Reference Collection

Reference, or Subject Encyclopedias, are a good place to:

  • browse for and explore topic ideas
  • find a narrower focus for a broad topic
    • For example, if I start out with an interest in Global Warming, 

Once you start to learn about your topic, you will use reference sources to get informed about the basic. 

I: Use Gale eBooks Reference to Explore Topic Ideas: 

Step 1:

Click on an area of interest (click on image to enlarge)

Browse Subject Encyclopedia Collections

Step 2:

Click on a title that interests you and browse the index for ideas. 

The image below is of a search of the Social Science Collection. I clicked on the title Inequality in America: Causes and Consequences.

(click on image to enlarge)

Index of History of Inequality in America

II: Use Gale eBooks/ GVRL to narrow a broad starting idea

Step 1: Type in your Starting Idea

(for example, Global Warming) 

gvrl-Global Warming

Step 2:

Scroll through the list of article titles to gather ideas about global warming you could research.

Step 3:

Click on the filter for Subjects for a list of Subtopics 

Global Warming Subject Filter

Step 4:

Skim through a relevant-looking article for ideas on how to narrow and focus. The excerpt below is from the start of an article on Renewable Energy. Possible subtopics include solar or wind energy and coal production.

Renewable Energy

Explore Current News & Culture Media for Ideas

In library news databases:

In Online Soures

Explore the Debate on Current Issues

Current Issues Databases

Look for Ideas & Arguments in Holman Library Current Issues Databases and in the News.

Viewpoints in Gale In Context Databases

In Gale In Context Databases (Opposing Viewpoints, Global Viewpoints, and Environmental Issues) explore VIEWPOINT essays for topic ideas from a range of perspectives.

  • The image below indicates there are 17 Featured Viewpoints and 159 Viewpoints in total on Universal Health Care.

Click on the image to enlarge.


Pro/ Con in CQ Researcher

In CQ Research look for the Pro/ Con section for a mini debate on an issue central to that report.

click on image to enlarge

Pro Con section in CQ Researcher

Newspaper Editorials & Opinions

Explore editorials, opinion, and commentary in the news. To find these sources, at Document Type, select Editorial, Opinion, Commentary. 

click on image to enlarge

At Document Type choose editorials, opinion, commentary, etc

Topic Exploration is Research