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Research Help

Picking a Paper Topic

Deciding on a paper topic that interests you can sometimes be challenging.  Here are some ideas to help you find an appropriate research topic:

1) Pick a topic from a newspaper or magazine article;

2) Pick a topic from a news story you saw on television, heard on the radio, or read online; 

3) Find a topic in an online resource, such as:

4) Take a look at the following website for some good ideas:

5) Look through some reference sources, either in print in the library or online.

What are Reference Sources?

Reference sources are available in general or subject specific contexts and in print or online formats. You need to evaluate each source and determine which are helpful to you and appropriate for you to use.


  • Encyclopedias
  • Dictionaries
  • Almanacs
  • Glossaries
  • Handbooks
  • Atlases
  • Bibliographies
  • Indexes

General Reference Subject Guide

The Writing Process in College

Cycle of Information

What about Wikipedia?

For most topics, it's a good idea to use and cite scholarly works rather than Wikipedia. 

Visit McQuade's "Wikipedia: Researchers Beware" page for more information.