Develop a Topic

1. Identify a Topic

To identify a topic, read your assignment carefully and make note of what type of paper you are being asked to write (for example: informative, argumentative, analysis). Brainstorm ideas for a topic that fits within the guidelines and will be of interest to you. You might start with a question that you want to find the answer to or a general concept that you will narrow down.

2. Develop It

Do some preliminary research to make sure there is information available on your topic and determine if it is too broad or too narrow. For example, if you start with a broad topic like climate change, think about what aspects you want to discuss, such as causes or effects, or what sort of argument you could make about climate change. 

3. Construct a Thesis Statement

Use what you've learned about your topic and your assignment to put together a thesis statement. Your thesis statement is usually one sentence that provides a clear description of what your paper will discuss. If you are writing an argumentative or persuasive paper, each section of your paper will support the claim made in your thesis statement.

4. Outline Your Paper

At this point, you may want to begin outlining your paper. Think of the points you want to make or the subtopics you want to discuss, and how they relate to your thesis statement. You will use your thesis and outline to help determine search terms as you look for resources to support your points. Don't worry-- this is just a draft! Your outline may change as you find out more information about your topic.

Need Inspiration?

Browse these databases and websites for topic ideas:

Choosing a Topic