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General Guide to Library Research

Tips for Picking a Research Focus

A good paper or project usually comes from a topic that interests you:  

Silhouette of a head with a lightbulb inside

  • Think about things you've seen on social media or the news. 

    • Can you turn one into a research topic?

  • Look through class readings. Which do you find interesting? 

  • Think about topics that are discussed in your major. 

  • Talk to your professor, classmates, or a librarian.  

  • Do some quick searches in Google to test out and refine any ideas you have.  

Focused on a specific major, industry or occupation?

It can be helpful to start your research by asking yourself questions like:

  • What are people in this field talking about right now? What are the hot ideas? 

  • What concerns do people in this field have? What problem am I trying to solve?

  • Are there areas of improvement or opportunity for this field, business or industry? What are they? 

Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a technique to explore different angles on your topic.

You can make your own mind map on paper or use a tool to create one.

Below is an example of what a mind-map might look like, with the main topic in the center and subtopics surrounding it:

Mind map showing Electric Cars as the main idea, with subcategories that include environmental impact, Costs, Models/Types, Safety, and Infrastructure

If you want to use an online tool to help with mind mapping, here are some options. Many others are available if you search on the web: