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PSYC 240: Introduction to Mental Health and Adjustment

Research Guide for PSYC 240

Strong Research Topics & Questions

A strong research topic covers a well-defined and well-studied area of research. Strong research topics/questions are:

  • focused
  • clear and simple
  • manageable
  • consistent with assignment requirements
  • of interest to you

Developing Research Topics & Questions

A broad topic has literally thousands of articles on it, and you won't be able to adequately cover it in your annotated bibliography. It will be far easier for you to research your annotated bibliography topic if you develop a strong, focused research topic:

Do some exploratory research on your topic idea, in your course textbook, class notes, and PsycINFO to identify specific issues, arguments, and analytical approaches in your research area and then identify possible relationships between them. 

  • Search for your general topic in PsycINFO/PsycARTICLES and then look at the assigned subjects of articles that interest you. 
  • In the left navigation bar in the search results, open the full list of subjects under Subject: Major Heading and scroll through the list to identify aspects of the topic that interest you.

Ask yourself questions about your topic idea. What concepts, issues, or other aspects of this topic interest you? What have people said about it? What gaps, contradictions, or concerns arise as you learn more about it? What relationships are there between different aspects of the topic?

Focus your topic: Use the information from your exploratory research to identify a few of the specific aspects that interest you and then use these to develop a more focused topic.

Choose a current topic: Your goal is to summarize and evaluate current findings of an area of research. Pick a research topic about which articles are continuing to be published. Avoid defunct or little-known areas of research. 

Write about what interests you: Professors want students to write about topics that they care about. If you're interested in the topic, it will be more fun for you to write your paper and probably more fun for your professor to read it, too.

Ask your course professor for feedback on your research topic.

Picking Your Topic IS Research

Once you've picked a research topic for your paper, it isn't set in stone. It's just an idea that you will test and develop through exploratory research. This exploratory research may guide you into modifying your original idea for a research topic. Watch this video for more info:

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