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IDS 298: The History of Eugenics and the Future of Genetic Testing: Exploring Topics

Developing a Topic

This page provides general ideas for selecting and refining your topic. You may want to consult your professor or a librarian about your specific topic.

Exploring Topics

Spend some time mapping out a topic, sorting out what information is available and what others have said about your topic. You're trying to figure out the conversations happening around your topic - and identifying who's having those conversations. Try these strategies:

  • Make a list of possible issues to research. Use class discussions, texts, personal interests, conversations with friends, and discussions with your professor for ideas. You'll be surprised how fast ideas come once you start writing them down.
  • Map out the topic by finding out what others have had to say about it:
  • Consult the appropriate Research Guides to explore resources for your field
  • Browse reference books (main floor of library, Beck Hall side) for overviews of your topic
  • Use online, reliable resources that provide overviews of topics presented by experts.
  • Talk with your professor about ways you can develop the topic, including sources and scholars you should consider
  • Talk with a librarian about useful reference books, books & articles
  • Develop questions. Do ideas you come across seem to offer interesting contrasts? Does one aspect seem intriguingly connected to something else? Is there something about the topic that surprises you? Do you encounter anything that makes you wonder why? 
  • Draft a research plan. Write down what you want to investigate and how you plan to do it. Writing down where you plan to take your research at this stage can help you clarify your thoughts and plan your next steps. 
  • Talk over your developing topic. Tell your roommate or another friend about your topic. Sometimes just explaining the idea to others can help you clarify what direction seems most interesting.

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