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Carrington College Library: Choose a Topic?

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Topic Selection: Why is this Important?

Picking a topic is where it all begins. The most important factor is to make sure you FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS in your ASSIGNMENT. If any part of your assignment is unclear, please talk with your instructor. Keep these points in mind when selecting a topic:

  • Research something YOU find interesting
  • Brainstorm and Ask Questions
  • Visualize different angles and think of related topics
  • Think about what other words can describe your topic (what do your textbooks say? How do your instructors refer to the concepts?) 
  • Keep it simple and try out some terms
  • ALWAYS recheck your ASSIGNMENT to make sure you are following the directions

Step One - Ask Yourself Questions

Used with Permission from NC State University Libraries


1.What do you already know about your subject?
2.What aspects of this topic interest you?
3.Where would you go to find out more?
4.How long has your subject existed?
5.What Kinds of Resources would be useful for this paper/project?


  Typically, you should not use Wikipedia as a reference for an academic paper, but this resource can help to identify key terms, individuals, and events to help you search the library databases.

Using Wikipedia for Academic Research (1:45)

Information Cycle/Timeline: Why is this Important?

The Information Timeline/Cycle  describes the way information is produced and distributed, and how it changes over time. It's used to describe the progression of media coverage relating to a particular newsworthy event or topic. Important aspects to help you with your paper or project include:

  • Helps determine validity of sources
  • Provides popular opinion when the event occurred
  • Determines the type of resources you want to use (social media, news media coverage, newspapers, magazine articles, journal articles, books, etc)

Information Timeline/Cycle - Answers "How long has your topic existed?"



Hurricane Katrina

Sample of information cycle

(UW Oshkosh Libraries)




The Information Cycle

Sample Timeline

(Krueger Library - Winona State University)