VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Develop Research Topics

Discover topic Ideas and learn how to develop them to fit your assignment

Cabell Library

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Developing a topic: it's a process!

Picking a topic is often the most challenging part of doing research. The stakes seem very high: pick a "bad" topic and the rest of the research process will be difficult. But with so many topic ideas out there, how do you choose one that is right for your assignment? This guide will cover the basics, but keep in mind these pointers:

  • Is the topic appropriate for the assignment? If your paper is meant to be 4 pages long, picking an enormous, broad topic won't work. If you're in a medieval history class, a paper on video games might present a challenge. Talk to your professor about your topic ideas to make sure you are on the right track.
  • Are you able to make an argument? The topic "is smoking bad for your health?" would be difficult because there is no argument there (the science is pretty conclusive that yes, it's bad for your health).
  • Do you care about your topic? If you pick a random topic just to get it over with, it will be painful to go through the research process. However, if you pick something that interests you, it will be much more enjoyable.