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Hot Topics: Pick a Topic

Pick a Topic


This page walks you through the the process of choosing and refining a research topic. You can go through the steps in order, or circle back to previous ones if you're not happy with your topic or still need to narrow it down more.

  1. Browse for Ideas
  2. Pick a Topic
  3. Do a Little Research
  4. Refine Your Topic

1. Browse for Ideas

Topics are "hot" because they're being talked about! You can browse for them anywhere people share and talk about ideas, like social media and news outlets. Some of our library resources also highlight controversial issues, current events, and trending topics. Try the sources below to start browsing topic ideas:

2. Pick a Topic

As you browse for topics, don't be afraid to click into and skim articles whose titles interest you. Pick a topic that you find interesting! You'll be working with it for awhile, so you might as well pick something you'll enjoy learning more about.

3. Do a Little Research

Read a few articles on your topic. They could be from the place you were browsing, news articles you find through Google, a library reference database such as Britannica Academic, or even a Wikipedia article.

► See the Find Sources page for links to library resources.

You want to get a bigger picture of the issues around your topic. For example, if I'm broadly interested in concussions in football, a quick search in different places shows more specific and related issues.

Source Search Results / Article Topics
Google search on football concussions filtered to news youth league, high school, and college football; new helmet technology; testing for concussions (see screenshot below)
Britannica Academic (library database) search on concussions and football "chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)" article other sports where CTE is an issue (e.g. ice hockey, baseball, boxing, soccer, wrestling)
Wikipedia "Concussions in American football" article concussion prevention, litigation against the NFL, efforts for improving recovery from concussions

4. Refine Your Topic

Based on the background research you've just done, narrow in on a more specific topic. Your project will be much more manageable if you focus on one piece of the larger topic. Here are some examples of narrower takes on my football concussions topic:

  • Youth football league response to the problem of concussions
  • Making high school football safer through helmet technology
  • How to support college athletes who have experienced repeated concussions
  • Whether football should continue to be so prominent as a youth sport
  • Or maybe you decide to research concussions related to ice hockey instead of football.

Happy with your topic?

Find SourcesMove on to the next step of finding more sources.

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New CQ Researcher Reports

Here is a list of new reports on hot topics from the database CQ Researcher.

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