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Develop Research Topics

Use this guide to explore and develop research topics.

Exploring Topic Ideas

Trying to decide on a topic for your research paper? This page includes information on how to find resources on current events, where to look for topic inspiration, and a video that walks you through the topic selection process.

Researching Current Events

Finding quality resources on current events (events that are currently unfolding or have happened within the past 6 or so months) can be tricky. This box has some information and links that can help you, but consider asking a librarian for additional assistance.

  • Peer-reviewed scholarship
    • You may not find peer-reviewed scholarship about current events. The peer-review process usually lasts at least six months, but may last two years or longer.
    • Often, similar past events have already been the subject of peer-reviewed scholarship. These may provide helpful context for your research on current events.
    • VCU Libraries databases are a good place to find scholarly research on your topic. Here is a comprehensive list of our databases.
    • If you need help choosing a database or questions about how to navigate a databases, contact a subject specialist librarian or Ask Us!
  • News articles and social media
    • News articles do cover current events. This Find News Sources Guide will help you locate news sources in our collections.
    • Social media can provide immediate coverage of events.
    • Keep in mind:
      • Just because something is reported quickly does not mean that it is accurate.
      • Newspapers and social media do not have neutral points of view.
      • All sources should be evaluated for their relevance for your research.
      • The Evaluate My Resources Guide will help you evaluate your sources.
    • Need help finding or evaluating news and social media? Contact a subject specialist librarian or Ask Us!

Library databases and websites for topic inspiration

Picking your topic IS research!

This videos shares insight on how even thinking about topics counts as doing research!