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PS4363 - Advanced Research Methods for Psychology : Choose a Topic

resources to use to develop and complete the research project as well as identify articles to use in article asssignments

1. Find a Topic that Interests You

small drawing of a stick figure who is trying to decide on a research topic

You will want to pick your topic based on various factors including the assignment, course research expectations, and your professor's feedback.  However, it is important to select your topic based on your personal interest too.

You should explore your interests by reading more about them.  Background information can be found in:

  • encyclopedia entries
  • popular magazine articles
  • survey articles
  • your textbook and other course readings.

Take a look at  the "Background Sources" box on the right for suggestions.

2. Develop a Research Question

Build on information from your background reading to come up with a topic or question.

Example: Is an individual's sense of well being tied to their satisfaction with their job?

Brainstorm a list of words to use when you search library databases and other sources (aka: your search vocabulary or keywords). Think about the words you could use in your searches to find more information on your potential topic.  Use tools like a database thesaurus or subject list to come up with related terms.

Example: well being, job satisfaction, happiness, employee engagement, work fulfillment, etc.

Start noting the words (like people, places, subjects, concepts, etc.) that you will use when you do your preliminary search.  It's really helpful to have this list of search terms as you continue to search for articles and other materials on your topic!

3. Broaden or Narrow Your Topic

Try searching for your initial topic in one of the sources listed in the "Search Options" box on the right.

You may find that you topic is: 

  • too broad (lots of materials but on narrower subtopics)
  • too narrow (not enough articles to answer your question)
  • too new (not much written yet, particularly in academic journals)

You will want to think about ways to focus your ideas so you can find the right mix of materials to use to build and support your topic and research thesis.

If your topic is too broad

  • focus on an aspect of your topic by being more specific.  Consider pairing your search term with a certain population group (adults, adolescents,, etc.), geographic area, culture, research method (survey, experiment, observational study), culture, time period, etc.

If your topic is too narrow

  • use more general terminology, search on just one or two words (add fewer terms to your search).  

Be sure to ask me or another librarian for help if you have questions about your research topic. We can help you develop strong search strategies and point you to helpful databases and online sources. 

Background Sources

Databases

Search these databases to find articles, books, videos, and more on psychology topics.