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CIS 111: Composition & Communication II: Develop Your Topic

This guide includes library help information specially tailored for students in CIS 111. Fall 217.

Need Ideas for a Topic?

Students report that getting started is the most difficult part of the research process. To help identify potential national/international issues that interest you, browse some of the topics listed in CQ Researcher or Opposing Viewpoints.

Find Background Information Here!

Research topics are often formed from a vague or general idea. Background information is used for providing definitions, historical background or context, and for enlarging your initial idea.Begin with Gale Virtual Reference Library to quickly locate information on your topic or to help you focus your topic idea.

Identifying Keywords

Before you can begin searching for information in a print or online resource, you need to identify keywords related to your topic. Key terminology can be found easily by scanning:

  • Your initial research questions,
  • Encyclopedia and other articles used when conducting background research,
  • Bibliographies found at the end of books and articles.

If you are still struggling, then try these suggestions:

  • Use a thesaurus to identify synonyms.
  • Find pictures related to your topic, then describe the picture.
  • Brainstorm keywords with a librarian, your instructor, or a friend.

Develop a Research Topic

Once you have selected an initial topic, the next step is to develop research questions. To begin:

  • Write down what you already know or don't know about the topic.
  • Using the information you wrote down, develop questions you'd like to answer when doing your research.
    • Use probing questions such as why? how? what if? should?
    • Avoid questions that can be answered with yes or no.

See the short video below for more tips:

Guide for Developing a Research Question

Refer to this guide as you develop your research topic. Use background information to help you understand your topic and provide context.