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Contemporary & Popular Issues: hot topics research

Library research tools to help you find sources for research and writing on current events, hot topics and pro/con issues


This guide will help you:

  • get started with researching contemporary and popular issues and pro/con topics
  • find topics to research using web searching, news sources and library resources
  • gather background information through reference materials, web resources and other library materials
  • go beyond basic Google searching using tools like Google Scholar and accessing library databases and resources
  • cite your sources correctly


Choosing & Developing your Topic

The first step toward a successful research paper is selecting a topic that is neither too broad nor too narrow.

If you have the freedom to choose your own topic, be sure to choose a topic that will sustain your interest. Additionally, the topic should be one you can research sufficiently in the time allowed, research using the tools and resources readily available to you, read about in a language you read well, and that your professor deems suitable for your assignment.

Start with a broad topic area (this might already be decided for you as a requirement of a course) and narrow this down to select a specific topic for your paper so that you don’t waste time wading through too much information.

When deciding upon a topic, remember these three rules:

  1. Decide the area you are interested in writing about  (ex:  global warming)
  2. Define the topic you wish to research (ex:  effects of global warming on children)
  3. Refine the topic area so that the topic is manageable - neither too large nor too small (ex: effects of global warming on children in New Zealand where the ozone is the weakest)


Deciding on a topic you'd like to write about and defining the parameters of your research is one of the most challenging and important aspects of the research process. If you need more help with this step, consult your professor or look for ideas in the research guides which have been prepared by the subject librarians.


Need help coming up with a topic?  
Use these resources to help generate some ideas: