Here are a few good strategies for selecting a topic if you’re looking for essay writing ideas:
1. Evaluate the time you have to devote to your paper. For example, if you are carrying a heavy credit load, you may not want to choose a topic that requires you to visit other libraries for materials. It would be better to write a paper about a current event.
2. Try to focus your topic to a define issue. For example, you might want to write about human trafficking; however, this topic is too vague. You will need to learn a little bit more about the topic before you define the issue you'd like to write about. In this example, you might focus on effective tactics to counter trafficking, or focus on child trafficking from a specific region.
3. Pick a topic that will interest you. What are you passionate about? What do you know a lot about? What do you want to learn more about? You should find something in which you have a natural interest, or is of such general interest that it is reqularly reported on in newspapers and journals and writting about in books.
4. The process: USE PREWRITING TECHNIQUES to get ideas down on paper.
a) Brainstorm – Focus on an idea for a set time (say fifteen minutes) and list every idea that comes to mind about a given topic. Do not reject any idea, no matter how absurd. Do not try to list in any order (1, 2 ,3 or A, B, C). Do write down ideas all over the page.
b) Cluster ideas and/or words – Group ideas or words that belong together to discover connections among ideas. Clustering is often done after brainstorming so that similar ideas can be grouped together.
c) Make lists – Outline informally the major points in a tentative order.
d) Free write – Focus on an idea for a set time (say ten minutes) and write down those ideas in paragraph or "essay" format. Do write down every idea, no matter how absurd or unrelated it may seem. Do not think about or be concerned with organization, grammar, sentence structure, or punctuation. Do not stop writing for the given time period.
e) Explore new ideas and a variety of points of view on your topic.
5. **Most important: If you are not sure how to research your topic, make an appointment with a librarian or stop by the reference desk in the library.
Search for books and other tangible media in the library's online catalog.
Search for journal articles, video and audio clips, etc. in the library's databases.
Find these journals in StorySearch (search for these journals in electronic format; we subscribe to more. Search by subject for additional titles.)
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