Brainstorming is a great way to get started on a research assignment.


If you have no idea what you want to write about here are a few brainstorming and exploring techniques to get you thinking.

What interests you? Free write or list things you are interested in.

  • Free write about or list things you have seen or experienced that raise questions that research might help answer.
  • Create an interest inventory. List anything that comes to mind or that you are interested about each of the following general topics: Places, trends, things, technologies, people, controversies, history, jobs, habits, and hobbies (from Bruce Ballenger's The Curious Researcher). Maybe something you already know a little about and are curious to know more or something you have just learned about that sounds interesting.  Revisit this list and circle any items that standout or look promising for a research topic and then brainstorm what you would like to know more about under each one.  Do any interesting questions arise?
  • Free write about or list things that have made you irritated, angry, or upset.
  • Free write about or list things problems you might want to solve. Get more ideas by exploring, reading, and talking to other people.
  • Browse by subject in library databases like :

CQ Researcher

CREDO online encyclopedia

Sage Reference

  • Browse newspapers or magazines like:

New York Times

Wall Street Journal

Science Daily

  • Talk to your instructor, friends, classmates, or a librarian for ideas.
  • Walk through a bookstore and take note of any subjects, ideas, or specific books that catch your attention.

 Still need help? Ask us.