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Choosing and Developing a Research Topic: Choose Your Topic

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Newspaper & Magazine Headlines

Scan the headlines of print or online newspapers or magazines for ideas on current topics.


San Francisco Chronicle

New York Times

Washington Post

Huffington Post




The Web

Browse Encyclopedias

Read the articles in encyclopedias to get background information, overviews, and summaries on a topic. Scan the index and topic outlines for keywords to use later when searching other resources.

Examples of print general encyclopedias:

World Book

Encyclopedia Americana

Examples of print subject-specific encyclopedias:

Celebrating Women in American History

Social Issues in America

Encyclopedia of Environmental Issues

e-Reference encyclopedias:

Gale Virtual Reference Center 

Credo Reference

Opposing Viewpoints & CQ Researcher

These research databases, also accessible off-campus, cover hot-button issues.

Opposing Viewpoints  Features current controversial issues in pro/con viewpoint articles, topic overviews, links to Websites, and magazine and newspaper articles. Includes statistics and primary documents.

For ideas:

  • Click on the Browse Issues link in the grey bar to peruse the full list of topics.
  • Or, browse issues by category:

Business and Economics; Energy and Environmentalism; Health and Medicine; Law and Politics; Science, Technology and Ethics; Society and Culture; War and Diplomacy

CQ Researcher   Features nonpartisan reporting and analysis of current controversial social, economic, political, and environmental issues. Each report includes an overview, background, chronology, current situation, outlook, and bibliography. 

For ideas:

  • "Hot Topics": Short reports on the most researched subjects in CQ Researcher.
  • "Issue Tracker": Mouse-over the Browse Reports link, then click on "Issue Tracker" for a list of topics.


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Charlotte Bagby
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