Flowchart: How to Find a Research Topic

It’s that time again — time to get back into the classroom.  Spring semester is here, and unless we get another snowstorm or “polar vortex,” it looks like I’ll begin my classes next Tuesday.  As I prepare, I’ve been putting together a few handouts for my course, Science and Technology since 1750.  Right now, I’m working on a few writing and research guides.

I’m a huge fan of Booth, Colomb, and Williams’s Craft of Research, a guide that I think no student should be without.  However, I often find that my students do not read it as closely as I would like them to do.  For the past few semesters, I’ve been planning to create a few flowcharts, which guide my students through the first few chapters of the book.   These chapters cover the early stages of  writing, moving students through choosing a topic, asking questions, and defining problems.  The idea behind the flowcharts is to provide a more visual process for working through the writing process.  The graphics which I am creating borrow from The Craft of Research, blending it with some of the ideas and processes that I use in my classroom.

Below is the first of these flowcharts, “How to Find a Research Topic.”  It is the simplest of the several charts, but it is essential during the first weeks of any research project.  I hope that you find it useful.  This is only the first version of this flowchart, and any input would be welcome.

How to Choose a research Topic

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