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SOC 101 - Desert Vista Introduction to Sociology (Young): Finding a Topic

Topic Tips

Keep your topic manageable.
A broad topic will be difficult to cover in a single research paper.
For example, for a paper about  "environmental issues" try limiting your topic by:
  • Geographic region (What are the major environmental issues for Tucson?)
  • Population group (How do dust storms impact the health of senior citizens?)
  • Specific area of interest within that topic (What are the issues surrounding water quality in Tucson?)


Be flexible. 

As you start your research, you may find that a slight change in your topic would make your paper more interesting or easier to research.


Turn your topic into a focused research question.
For example:
                          Idea = water issues for Tucson
                          Research Question = How well is Tucson prepared for
                          challenges to insure future water quality and availability?
Formulate a thesis statement (*Go to 'Define your Topic and Clarify Your Thesis' in the next column)
Your thesis statement will be one or two sentences that states precisely what is to be answered, proven, or what you will discuss.  It gives your paper focus and makes it interesting!

For example:

Idea Research Question Thesis Statement
Water issues for Tucson How well is Tucson prepared for challenges to insure future water quality and availability? The city of Tucson has not sufficiently prepared for future challenges in insuring water quality and availability.

Define Your Topic and Clarify Your Thesis

What is your major topic?:                                   

                Example: Financial aid

What is your question about it?        

                 Example: Should financial aid be given based on need but also factoring in merit?    

What is your answer? (Thesis)       

                 Example: Yes, school grades should be a factor, in addition to financial need.  

What are some arguments against your thesis?

Example: No, because of education inequality at the high school level, financial aid should be based only on need.               


What background evidence do you need to support your thesis?                                                                                           

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What background evidence might argue against your thesis?

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Need Help?

  • Select the Home tab in this research guide. See the contact information box.
  • Or drop by any PCC library.  Tell the person at the desk that you’d like to consult with a librarian. 

Need More Help? Ask a Librarian