Think about topics that interest you. To generate some ideas, try the sources below. They offer background information on current events and controversial topics. And, they give both sides of an issue, so you can develop a better understanding of the topic.
Need to look up a name, place, term, or event? 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.
Now that you've done some background research, it's time to focus your topic. Here are some suggestions for narrowing and defining your topic:
Applying the 5 W's -- who, what, when, where, why, and how -- to your topic can also help you begin to find a more focused issue within that topic that will work well for your assignment.
Describe and develop your topic in some detail. Try filling in the blanks in the following statements from Wayne Booth's The Craft of Argument so you can move from a big, broad topic to one that is interesting and manageable:
I am working on the topic of ___________
because I want to find out who / what / when / where / why / how_____________
in order to help my reader better understand ______________.
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.