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Studies in Sociology

Deciding on a topic

Often finding a topic can be the most challenging part of writing a research paper, here are some ways to choose and narrow down a topic.

Meme: "loud noises" scene from Anchorman with the text "I don't know what I'm writing about!"

Ask youself

  • What am I interested in?
  • What do I want to know?
  • What problems need to be solved?


Too specific/ not specifc enough?

  • Be reasonable
  • Start wide and focus/narrow doesn your question
  • Try to make an 'idea pyramid'
  • Still having trouble? Ask Dr. Chapman or a librarian


Getting Background Information

Google can be a great resource, especially when getting started. Make sure you evaluate your sources carefully and try these Tips for Effective Google Searching.

While you may be tempted to use a site like Wikipedia to get basic background information, remember that Wikipedia can be edited/altered by anyone with an account.  There are many people who work very hard to keep Wikipedia articles accurate, but there are many others who go in behind them and change the information. Wikipedia is not a citable source, you need to find that same information in a reliable resource if you want to cite it. 

What are some reliable sources of background information?


Mind Map Template

Pyramid Template

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