What Will You Write About? 

  • Selecting your own research topic for Technical Writing can sometimes seem like a large task, but we're here to help. First, please know that you will likely find yourself modifying your topic as you write and gather information -- and this is perfectly normal!

  • Take a moment and read these tips about topics: Refining a Topic (Duke University)

  • With those ideas about your topic in mind you are ready to start researching.

  • For your sanity, start searching for books, articles and other sources when you have at least two or more class sessions before your paper is due. Trust us on this. This will give you time to search on your own, ask a librarian for guidance, and go back to your instructor if you need to refine your topic. 

  • We hear great topics from students. Sometimes these topics are so unique and brilliant that data and research has not yet been compiled and published about them. So, if you are searching and searching and can't find the data you need, it is possible that data doesn't exist. Be sure to Ask a Librarian before you decide the data doesn't exist. If this is the case, be flexible. Take a look at what you are finding and tweak your topic to address data that does exist. (And, save that topic! When you start doing original research, you'll already have a great research question ready to go.)


Good keywords are essential to good research. So it is a good idea to come up with a list of keywords before you even start researching.

To do so, ask yourself two questions:

1. What do I know about my topic?

2. What do I want to know about my topic?

List out the answers to those questions using single words or simple phrases. These will become your keywords. Be prepared that these keywords may all change as you learn more information through your research.

Questions? Please contact

Katherine Jones

Undergraduate Services Librarian


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