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WR 121: Written Reasoning as Discovery and Inquiry

Finding a Topic

Getting Started 

  • Make sure you understand your assignment. Talk to your instructor if you have any questions.
  • Think about your interests. What would you like to spend time learning more about? Write down a list of keywords and phrases that interest you.
  • Use a topic ideas database such as CQ Researcher or Opposing Viewpoints in Context (Gale). Read current periodicals, browse the internet, and check out reference resources and encyclopedias.
  • Be careful not to pick a topic too narrow or too broad. You might not be able to find enough relevant information or you might be overwhelmed with too much information. As you start your research, you might need to adjust your topic. 
  • Check out the Research Guide for your subject area, which will include links to helpful resources commonly used by researchers. Our subject specialist librarians create these guides -- contact yours with questions and to get personalized help with your research. 

Resources for WR 121

Websites

The Information Life Cycle (Video Tutorial)

Check out this short video from UNLV Libraries on the information life cycle to understand the effects of time on the types (formats) of information that are shared and published. This video will help you understand what kinds of information are available to help you answer your research question and how they get created. 

Step 1 - Pause to Reflect

Pause to Reflect

Step one not only requires that you come up wth a research question or topic that is narrow enough to explore for an undergraduate research paper, but it also requires that you consider what type of information you will need to find in order to answer your research question.

  1. Is your topic so large you could write a whole book or PhD dissertation on it? If so, you should try to narrow your topic down to something manageable within the time you have and the number of pages or words your instructor is requiring.
  2. Is your topic so specific that you can't find information about it? Go to step 3 to learn how to search more strategically and broaden your search out a bit.
  3. Do you need some basic facts, dates, or names of historical people or specific theories? If so, go on to step 2: Find Background Information.
  4. When you are ready, go to step 3 to learn how and where to search for information on your topic.

Mt Hood reflected in Mirror Lake, Oregon.

 Mount Hood reflected in Mirror Lake, Oregon, USA. Image in Public Domain.

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