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Media in a Hyper-mediated World: KLN 0873

Research help for Sherri Hope Culver's GenEd course, KLN 0873: Media in a Hyper-mediated World.

Videos on Choosing a Topic

Choosing a Research Topic

Developing a Research Question

(Doing) Background Research

Choose a Topic

road sign Choosing an interesting research topic can be hard. Where can you turn to for ideas?​

  • Look through your syllabus or assigned readings for themes, concepts, or ideas that interest you -- even if you haven't covered them in class yet.
  • Meet with your professor. They can help you generate, develop, and provide examples of suitable topics. 
  • Chat with your classmates. What are they considering? Brainstorm together to generate ideas and decide what interests you. 
  • Consider what you are studying in other classes. Are there ways to connect ideas with another class?
  • Browse! Look at current events stories published in the news.
  • Brainstorm! Create a mind map of ideas, subjects, and questions you have about the topic (see 'Visualize Your Topic' section).

Most importantly, think about topics that interest you.

Get Topic Ideas

Individual thinkingThink about topics that interest you. To generate some ideas, try the sources below. They offer background information on current events, individuals, and controversial topics. And, oftentimes, they give both sides of an issue, so you can develop a better understanding of the topic.

Get Background Info

student sits in front of laptop, perusing book 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.

Focus Your Topic

hands holding a pair of glasses, focused on ships at seaNow that you've done some background research, it's time to focus your topic. Here are some suggestions for narrowing and defining your topic:

  • Is there a specific subset of the topic you can focus on?
  • Is there a cause and effect relationship you can explore?
  • Is there an unanswered question on the subject?
  • Can you focus on a specific time period, geographic location, or group of people?

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 ______________.

Visualize Your Topic

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.