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Computer Science & Engineering: Get Started

Find a Topic

Sometimes, finding a topic for your research paper is not always that easy. At some level, you will most likely be asked to write on a topic that will be discussed in your class, or that will have some relevance to topics discussed in class.

Where to Find Ideas

  • Class discussions or readings
  • Presentations at relevant conferences
  • Articles in discipline-related journals and trade publications
  • Relevant current events

Gather Background Information

Why Should I Start with Background Information?

  • Become familiar with the topic
  • Identify more specific aspects of the topic on which to focus
  • Provide context and identify differing perspectives
  • Identify experts related to the topic


Where to Find Background Information

Gale Virtual Reference

This database provides full-text reference materials in an electronic format.  It includes multi-volume encyclopedias, biographical collections, business plan handbooks, company histories, consumer health references, etc. Subjects covered include arts, biography, business, education, environment, history, law, medicine, multicultural, religion and science.

Search Gale Virtual Reference Library

Narrow Your Topic

Narrowing a topic requires you to be more specific about your research interest and can help you to develop a thesis.

Questions to Narrow Your Topic

  • Who? Who is the specific person/group to which you would like to limit your research?
  • What? What specific aspect of the broad topic idea is interesting to you?
  • Where? To which specific geographic area or region would you like to limit your research?
  • When? On what time period would you like your research focused?
  • Why? Why do you think this is an important/interesting topic?

What is a Thesis Statement?

A thesis is typically a one sentence statement in the first paragraph, or beginning, of your project that states your purpose. Thesis statements should be arguable, specific, detailed, and meaningful.



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How to Develop a Good Research Topic

How to Use Gale Virtual Reference Library

Using Wikipedia for Academic Research

This tutorial explains how to use Wikipedia as an exploratory tool and where it can appropriately fit in the research process. Created by Michael Baird, Cooperative Library Instruction Project (CLIP)