Writing: Get Started


Background information can help familiarize you with the topic and provide context.

It can also help you identify more specific aspects of a topic, which is quite helpful when it comes to narrowing your focus.

Before you begin...

Ideas for topics can come from a variety of places:
  • Class discussions
  • Class readings
  • Articles in your area of study
  • Relevant current events

Note: Once you have decided on a topic, you should make sure it is sufficiently narrow.

Is there a specific aspect of the broad topic that interests you the most?

Why do you think this is an important/interesting topic?

Asking yourself questions like this helps you chose a more specific focus for your research.

Remember: Some topics are too big to be covered in only a few pages of discussion, while others are too narrow to effectively locate useful sources.

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Find Background Information

Using the Library Catalog Advanced Search:

  • enter desired terms (e.g., chemistry or biochemistry) in one text entry box
  • enter encyclopedias or dictionaries (restricted to Subject field) in the next
  • add any other limiters (e.g., location UHCL or format ebooks
  • click Submit

Library Catalog Advanced Search for (chemistry or biochemistry) and in Subject field (encyclopedias or dictionaries) with limiters for location UHCL and material type ebook

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Picking Your Topic IS Research

(3:12) Identifying an area of interest and turning it into a workable topic that's not too broad or too narrow is part of the research process. Think of it as the "pre-search" phase. North Carolina State Univ. Libraries

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