Topic Finding and Thesis Formation
- Follow your interest AND pay particular attention to the assignment you have been given. Make sure you understand what your Professor is asking for before diving into your research.
- Note some topics that interest you and then play around with narrowing and broadening these topics. For example, if I liked the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson, I could investigate him, the broader topic of Transcendentalism, or the narrower topic of how one of his works - like Society and Solitude - was received.
- Look for tensions, anomalies and unanswered questions.
- What assumptions have been made in previous scholarship surrounding this topic?
- What critical approaches have and haven't been taken with this topic?
- Look for ways you can situate an argument within the context of a larger argument, or in opposition to another argument.
- Realize that the scope and focus of your topic will change the more information you locate, read, and analyze. Your preliminary research should help you figure out which aspects of your broader topic you are truly interested in focusing on; in later research, you can hone in on this narrow topic.
- Encyclopedias that focus on history, culture, and literature including the online/print reference sets listed on this page.
- Google (Scholar, Web, Images, Books)
Writing and Research Resources
Historical Research and Writing
Evidence explained : citing history sources from artifacts to cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills. D5 .M55 2009
Writing History: A guide for students by William Kelleher Storey. D16 .S864 2004
Literary Research and Writing
The art of literary research by Richard D. Altick and John J. Fenstermaker. PR56 .A68 1993
General Writing and Research Resources
The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) guides