That's OK -- you're not expected to be. Research is a process, and you will learn more about your topic the more you explore.
Remember that scholarship is a conversation. The more information you gather about your topic from different sources, the better prepared you will be to contribute your own voice to that conversation.
Keep in mind that a lot of conversations are happening at once around any topic, and not everyone will agree. Your job is to analyze these ideas and present your own point of view that is supported by research.
Credit: Anna Eisen, University of Washington Libraries
Strategies for Generating Topic Ideas
Not sure what to write about? Try these strategies to help you generate ideas and decide on a topic:
Scan your textbook or class readings
Think about something interesting you have read or seen online or on television
Pick a topic relevant to your life
Considering a career in medicine? Hoping to start your own business? Thinking of studying abroad next year?
What laws or policies do you think are unjust?
Choose a topic that allows you to learn about something you can apply to your daily life.
These library databases are great for generating ideas:
Check the "Browse Issues" tab to explore a lengthy list of controversial social issues. Click on an issue link to see pro/con viewpoint essays; full-text magazine, academic journal, and news articles; statistical tables, charts, and graphs; images, videos; audio files, and more.
Choose the "Browse Topics" tab to explore different subject areas. Expand the subject area to view in-depth CQ Researcher reports on that topic. CQ Researcher reports focus on current events and controversial issues. Written by journalists, CQ's reports are footnoted and fact-checked. Full-length articles include an overview, historical background, chronology, pro/con feature, plus resources for additional research. Graphics, photos and short "sidebar" features round out the reports.
Click the "Browse Issues and Topics" tab, and choose a subject of interest, e.g. "Environment and Climate Change" or "Conflict and Diplomacy." You can also browse by region. Each gateway page includes an overview, "perspective" articles written by local experts, reference, periodical, primary source and statistical information. Multimedia - including podcasts, video, and interactive graphs - enhance each portal.
Click the "Browse Topics" tab to explore subjects from science to literature to history, providing information on a broad range of topics, people, places, and events. Here you will find reference articles alongside full-text magazines, academic journals, news articles, and more.