Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Choosing a Research Topic: Getting Ideas

What makes a good topic and how do you pick one?

Your Class

Your class provides many topic ideas when you consider:

  1. the instructor's lectures and PowerPoints
  2. the required readings and videos
  3. class discussions
  4. 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.

Best Bet

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.

Other Librarian Favorites

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.

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.)


  • Burns Hall 1304
    1 College Drive, Bentonville, AR 72712
  • Call: 479-619-4244 | Text: 479-802-0570
  • About Us
  • Check us out on Facebook Watch us on YouTubeEmail Us