How to Find and Develop a Viable Research Topic
STEP ONE: IDENTIFY A TOPIC.
If you haven't picked a topic yet, go to Suggestions for Finding a Topic.
State your topic idea as a question. For example, if you are interested in finding out about use of alcoholic beverages by college students, you might pose the question, "What effect does use of alcoholic beverages have on the health of college students?"
Identify the main concepts or keywords in your question. In this case they are alcoholic beverages, health, and college students.
STEP TWO: TEST YOUR TOPIC.
Test the main concepts or keywords in your topic by looking them up in the appropriate background sources or by using them as search terms in the Cornell's "Classic" Catalog and in periodical indexes.
Once you have identified and tested your topic, you're ready to take the next step, finding background information on your research topic.
Revised 29 March 2012