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Sociology Research: Choose a Topic

Finding information for research papers in LSC-O Sociology courses

General tips for choosing a research topic

Choosing a topic might seem like the easiest part of doing a research paper or project.  In fact, sometimes the topic is assigned for you. Often, however, it is the topic that causes frustration and discouragement in the research process.  Use these tips to ensure that your topic is not the culprit in your academic stress load!

  • Make sure your topic isn't too broad.  If you've been given an assignment to write a 10-page paper about marriage and family, you will need to narrow that topic down!  Whole books, and even encyclopedia sets have been written about this topic. Find a narrower aspect of marriage and family. Researching the influence of the media on family life or dealing with family finances (the number one cause of divorce), for example, will allow you to focus your thoughts, direct your research, and steer your writing. As you learn about the topic, even narrower topic ideas appear. It is normal to adjust a topic idea as you learn more about it. 
  • Make sure your topic isn't too narrow. If you find that you are unable to find much information that directly addresses your topic, it could be too narrow.  While information about the effects of steroids on athletes may be plentiful, finding articles about the effects of steroids on only asian students may not be.  If you are unable to find enough information about your topic, ask for help!
  • Try VERY HARD to find a topic that interests you. Having a topic you actually care about makes the time spent on research seem shorter and even enjoyable!

Some topic ideas for sociology papers

The following resources provide topic ideas on sociology topics:

  • Opposing Viewpoints in Context (off campus login is MyLSCO username/password)
    1. Click "Browse Issues". 
    2. Or use the drop down menu and highlight broader topics: Family Issues or Society & Culture to narrow down the topic choices.
    3. Browse these issues by clicking and reading the "topic" pages, especially the introductory paragraphs and Viewpoints sections. The Viewpoint articles allow you to further narrow the topic into various issues including pro and con essays on specific issues. The articles under "Reference" on the topic pages provide background for a clearer understanding of these issues.
    4. Articles from magazines, newspapers, academic journals, statistical sources and links to relevant web sites are also provided on these topic pages.
  • Idea Generator for Social Sciences (a Website at Old Dominion University) Browse a huge number of topic ideas. These topics are pretty narrow and are topic ideas only, that is, they do not link to any other information.
  • Find a book on your topic and browse through it to see what topics are covered in the book. Look at the table of contents or the index. See the tab, "Find Books."  
  • Look at the list of reference encyclopedias on the "Find Books" tab, especially those that are relevant to your specific course. These sources are all in the HM-HQ call number section in the Reference location on 2nd floor. 

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