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*Psychology Subject Guide: Topic Development

 

Before you start writing, take some time to think about what you want to write about. What topic is interesting to you? Then do some research to learn more about the issue BEFORE you take a stance. 

As you browse for topics, take notes of possible key terms. Databases look for the exact words that you put in, so think about what words are used to describe your topic, including synonyms and related terms. 

Some good databases to use for topic searches are listed below.

Quick Tips

1. Read the assignment prompt.

Did you read it? Good! Read it again. Ideally, the assignment prompt will help you scope your topic (ex. do you need a topic that can be covered in 2-3 pages, or 21-23 pages), provide expectations for the purpose of your claim/thesis, and point to specific types of materials the instructor may want you to use. 

 

2. If you have been using a textbook for the course, review the chapters for topic ideas.

Your research should tie directly back to what you have been learning in the course. The readings listed on your syllabus are another good source of ideas.

 

3. Your topic should lend itself to a research question, the answer to which will become your thesis.

With this in mind, look to areas for which there is a conflict or an issue to be addressed. This will also help you narrow your topic, as fortunately for undergraduates the goal is to craft a researched claim related to the course material, not to tackle everything related to the subject area.

 

Skill Tutorial: Choosing a Topic

This module will walk you through the process of choosing a viable topic, and transforming that topic into a research question.

Review the boxes on each tab, including the questions at the bottom to check for understanding. Once you have reviewed the tabs, complete the quiz at the end.


Topic Inspiration

The freedom to choose your own research topic can often be accompanied by decision paralysis, as there is a very big world of possibilities out there--how do you choose? If you are struggling to articulate an interesting topic, try perusing the resources below for inspiration: