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Sociology Research Guide

How to pick a topic

How to pick a topic:

  1. Review your assignment directions and requirements.

    • Are you required to pick a topic within an assigned theme, like education or advertising, or are you allowed to choose a topic from any theme?
    • Are you required to use certain readings from your course? Those readings may give you ideas about potential topics.
  2. Brainstorm and ask questions.
    • Think of the readings in your class that interest you most. Is there an idea or topic that you want to explore further?
    • Write down a few topic ideas on a piece of paper, and ask yourself questions about those topics.
    • Using the 5 W's can get your mind flowing as you brainstorm. For example:
      • Who is affected by this topic? Who are the key players in this topic? Who benefits (and who doesn't) from this topic?
      • What are the most important issues or concerns related to this topic?
      • Where does this topic exist? Is it specific to a region?
      • When was this topic most relevant? Is it a historical topic or a current event?
      • Why is this topic important to you? Why should it be important to your reader?
  3. Once you have a few topic ideas, do some background research to learn more about your topic. (See next page!)
    • Doing background research will help you understand your topic enough to write a research question and/or thesis statement.

Pencil and paper with question mark drawn on paper

Photo by Mark Fletcher-Brown via Unsplash.