Choosing a topic is a vital part of the research process. Begin by brainstorming broad topics that are of interest to you. Then you can use the resources on this page to:
- Explore reference sources to get background information on your theme and any related concepts to begin narrowing your topic and identifying possible search terms. You can also browse the specific reference works to find topic ideas.
- Explore the databases below to see how widely your topic is covered by historians and other researchers, to continue narrowing to a more specific question, and to begin thinking about primary source options
- Try using the mind-mapping tools to visualize different facets of your topic and bring them together into a research question (or questions)
Try visualizing your topic to explore all of the different angles, ideas, and key concepts related to your topic. This is a good brainstorming exercise and can also help focus your topic into a research question.
The tools below can help you visualize your topic.
The sources below contain many different kinds of encyclopedias and dictionaries and are excellent starting points for getting an overview on your topic as well as possible search terms to use later. Try them.