Answered By: APUS Librarians
Last Updated: Oct 12, 2017     Views: 5839

Remember:  when you choose a topic for a college-level assignment, you'll probably need to think beyond your personal interests - even when your instructor tells you it's okay choose any topic you like.  Your assignments will often require you to use scholarly sources (like those in the APUS Library)...and scholarly sources aren't typically written about our favorite hobbies or lifestyle interests.

Of course, research and writing are easiest if you choose a topic that interests you.  So,  instead of hobbies or interests outside of school,  think about your major, your favorite classes or classes you'd really like to take.   Think about your career (the one you have now, or the one you hope to have after you graduate!).   Topics related to your academic or professional interests are better suited to college-level research...and you'll find plenty of scholarly resources in our library.

Where can you look for topic ideas?


  • Class textbooks can be an ideal source for topic ideas. 
    • Look in the textbook for the class you're taking - or from a past class that you particularly enjoyed.
    • Skim the chapters that interest you the most, paying close attention to any sidebars or boxes on each page (these often cover subtopics or current issues of particular interest in the field). 
    • Most chapters will even give you a head-start with your research by listing books and articles on the topics covered (look for "further reading", "suggested reading" and, of course, works cited/bibliography/references pages).


  • The library's research guides are another good place to browse.  Find the guide for your degree program!  It will link you to relevant article databases, journals, ebooks, video and news, and authoritative websites.  As you explore, you may discover topics of interest.


  • Look for professional associations related to your major or career.  Click around their websites and keep an eye out for topics that interest you.


Once you have found a topic, you'll need to identify your search terms and try a test search to make sure there is enough scholarly material for you to use in your paper or presentation.    Be flexible as you explore your topic - you may need to narrow or broaden it a bit to find what you need.


For more advice on refining your research topic, visit Writing@APUS:  click The Starting Point and scroll down to the Choosing a Topic section.


Choosing a Topic in Writing@APUS

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