Ask Yourself ....
Ask yourself the following questions about your topic to make sure you've picked a topic that will keep both yourself and your audience engaged. If you can answer yes to all the questions, you're ready to start gathering sources. Source
Use the resources below to browse for potential topics.
A concept map (sometimes called knowledge maps or mind maps) is a great way to organize your research topic and brainstorm keywords for searching. It's also a good way to visually lay out how the different parts of your topic fit together.
Reference books like encyclopedias and dictionaries are a great place to find information about your topic, especially facts and statistics. Many reference books are available online, using the search engines below.
Books usually offer a broad view of a topic. Books are great sources when the researcher needs an overview of a topic. Historical topics are usually covered better in books than in articles. For example, how women were treated in the Middle Ages is a topic best researched in a book. (An article may offer a view of the social life of women in a specific city, or delve deeply in to raising children or other narrow topic.) A book is better for this topic because it offers a broader perspective.
The researcher may not need the whole book for research. Look at the table of contents or chapter list for the most relevant chapters. Scan through the index in the back of the book for your main topic and check out the pages that are listed for that topic (as well as the rest of that sub-chapter).
Books are also useful when the researcher is still exploring ways to narrow a topic.
This type of periodical usually has a narrow focus. For example, the American Journal of Economics and Sociology has articles that only pertain to economic sociology, which is the study of the social causes and effects of various economic phenomena.
Articles in scholarly journals are written by scholars or researchers in this field, so the authors of articles in AJES will be professors or researchers of economic sociology. Most topics in scholarly articles are highly specialized, such as "A Radical Endeavor: Joseph Chamberlain and the Emergence of Municipal Socialism in Birmingham" in AJES volume 75 issue 1.
Most academic or scholarly journals are peer-reviewed, which means that peers of the authors (other scholars in that field) review articles and offer criticisms before they are published.
Newspapers, news blogs/vlogs, news magazines and similar sources are usually written by professional journalists. These authors usually have degrees in English, communication or journalism, and may also have some education in the field they are writing in. For example, Barbara Walters has an English degree, and her first job was writing press releases for a NBC network affiliate in New York City. Other reporters may have degrees in agriculture or political science and put that degree to work by specializing in news related to that field.
News articles are typically not as technical as scholarly articles, and are a good choice when the researcher wants information about events as the event was currently perceived at publication. News sources are also useful for local information, opinions, or commentary about a topic. Newspapers may be found from the late 1800's to current issues.
Most magazines appropriate for research are subject-specific. These are usually trade magazines, which means they are published for professionals in the field. Memberships to the publishing organization may be required. For example, a subscription to National Geographic Magazine requires the subscriber to belong to the National Geographic Society.
Many professional organizations include publications with the subscription price, and professionals typically receive these publications even if they belong to an organization for networking, career assistance, political/professional advocacy or other benefits.