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Your class provides many topic ideas when you consider:
the instructor's lectures and PowerPoints
the required readings and videos
your class notes
Depending upon your assignment, you might be able to use a topic you discovered in *another* class. For example, a potential topic discovered in General Psychology may be a solid choice for a speech in Public Speaking. Or, something discussed in Art History, such as an artist, work of art, or artistic movement or technique might be suited for a Composition essay.
When you borrow topics from other classes, just make sure the assignments you submit are unique. You should never turn in the same paper for presentation for different assignments in different classes!
When in doubt or stuck, talk to your instructor.
The Library Online
Try browsing these research databases from NWACC Library. Each one has a feature to help you explore topic ideas.
Gale's research databases are geared to beginning college researchers. There are some very specific Gale search tools, such as World History. Others are large and more general, such as Gale eBooks. The tools with (Gale In Context) in the title are particularly useful for finding topic ideas. Explore all of the Gale search tools from the Library's A to Z Research database list. Here are some of the librarians' favorites.
There are "Topics of Interest" on the main page, or scroll down to browse all topics. Each topic has an overview (explainer) and several sources divided into boxes by source type, such as Academic Journals, News, and Primary Sources. Many topics include images, videos, audio, and credible websites. Make sure to check out the starred Feature Content. Try searching with the results if you need find specific information.
This tool excels for researching persuasive or argumentative assignments or times when you need different points of view. "Issues of Interest" are on the main page, or scroll down to browse all issues. Each topic has an overview (explainer) and several sources divided into boxes by source type, such as Viewpoints, Academic Journals, Magazines, Reference (ebooks), and Primary Sources. Many topics include infographics, statistics, images, videos, audio, and credible websites. Make sure to check out the starred Feature Viewpoints. Try searching with the results if you need find specific information.
Find "Trending Topics" and "Editor's Picks" on the main page, or scroll down to browse topics by common assignment type, such as "Controversial Issues" or "Environmental Issues" or by subjects, such as "Sports & Health." Each topic has an overview (explainer), links to sources on various angles or focus areas, and suggestions for related research topics. Pay attention to the "View related documents" box in the overview, which will give you even more sources of information.
eLibrary®—the user-friendly general reference tool—delivers one of the largest general reference collections of periodical and digital media content designed to support every range of users, including middle and high school students, college-prep and college-level researchers, and professional educators. Educators can even search for resources that correlate to state and national standards, including Common Core State Standards. eLibrary’s updated interface and features make research easy. Researchers will find the answers they need from more than 2090 full-text magazines, newspapers, books, and transcript titles, plus a collection of over 7 million maps, pictures, weblinks, and audio/video files.
This search tool provided background information from ebooks. Popular topics are listed by category, such as Health & Medicine, on the front page. In Credo Reference, "Research Topics" contain overviews (explainers), images, related topics and links to relevant sources from several other library databases.
Find the full list of Credo's "Research Topics" by selecting "Topics" form the menu next to the logo. Once you are in a topic, try using the mind map to branch out or find a focus or angle.
An excellent choice for exploring social issues, SIRS gives pros and cons from credible sources with content hand-picked by human editors. Find "Trending Topics" and "Editor's Picks" on the main page, or scroll down to browse topics by subject areas, such as "School, Family & Youth." Browse "Leading Issues" from the main menu. Each topic has a brief summary of the issue and then asks a question. Opposing viewpoints are offered in response to the question posed. Scroll down to find a list of "Critical Questions," an image, a timeline, and related leading issues.
Web & Social Media
Social media can suggest topics. Consider what is trending, as well as posts by reputable organizations and individuals. Follow posts from news organizations or online to their website to get more details.
Here are some academic-focused sites the librarians recommend.
Articles frame current events by drawing on academic scholarship to explore the issue. Links are provided to the scholarly sources each article cites.
Brainstorming for Your Topic
Brainstorming can be useful to help pick the "just right" topic for your assignment.
Some ways to brainstorm including asking yourself questions, free writing, and mind mapping.
While it is not strictly necessary to do all three of these forms when beginning your assignment, it can be very useful to do some form of brainstorming in order to get your ideas flowing.
If you would like to create your own virtual mind map, consider using Bubble or Google Jamboard. (You will need to make an account to use either of these. Jamboard can be used with your Google e-mail sign in.)