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Topic: Black Experience in the Americas — How to Pick a Topic

Picking a Topic and Keywords to Research your Topic

This page offers you several option to brainstorm and develop a research topic and keywords that then you can use to search our many databases. Feel free to explore these different options and to contact me any time if you need more help!

The first step for your research paper is to pick a topic.There are two key steps to successfully picking a topic:

  1. If you are unfamiliar with the general topics of your class, find background information to learn more about them to start narrow down what you want to focus and
  2. when you are ready to select a topic, make sure that is not too broad (and impossible to do) but also not too narrow (and not finding any research about it).
Image Info: example of a Concept (or Mind) Map on the broad topic, nervous system. Each branch refers to a possible narrow topic to focus your research.


Concept Mapping example

Finding Background Information

If this is your first time researching this subject, check out these encyclopedias and other reference books. They will help you identify topics and information necessary to do your research project.

Picking a topic and search terms

Below are some useful links and handouts that help you develop your topic. Check the handouts in this page. They are useful to help you develop keywords/search terms or to learn the best way to search databases to find articles and books for your research.

Concept Mapping

Concept mapping, a way to visualize a topic possible dimensions, is a helpful tool to narrow down a very broad topic. This is an excellent video to introduce you to this tool, a way to brainstorm to develop keywords that you can use when searching for articles and books in databases