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Composition 1 - Melbourne - ENC 1101

A guide for Composition I Students at Eastern Florida State College- Melbourne campus.

Topic Development

The first step when planning and writing a research paper is picking a good topic. A good topic is relevant to the assignment and has enough information available for you to use. If you have a choice, choose a subject that you are interested in. Developing a viable research topic requires some critical thinking skills. Save yourself time by using Module 2 in the Basic Information Literacy Tutorial (BILT). In addition,  Purdue's Online Writing Lab provides a good introduction on understanding your assignment and choosing a topic.

Topic Suggestions

Selected library databases to search for topic suggestions.

If not logged in through MyEFSC, you must log in to databases with B Number & birthdate PIN (mmddyy) 

Selected resources for choosing a research topic:    

Once you have selected a topic and before you start searching for resources, it is helpful to perform these steps:

Topic: Why is college debt worrisome for students and society overall? 

Step 1: Break the topic into main concepts:


Step 2: Brainstorm keywords for each concept: Try thinking of synonyms and related terms. 





community college
higher education


societal impact
social effects

Step 3: Combine your terms in a search

Step 4: Search an appropriate resource

Step 5: Review results for alternative keywords or subjects and redo search (as needed)

Using the keywords and concepts you have identified, choose the best sources to begin your research. Review Module 3 in BILT to learn more about information types.


Reference Materials give you a general overview of a subject.

Do you need background information on your topic?  Do you need statistics or historical data?  Specialized encyclopedias and handbooks can help frame your subject.
For eReference books try Virtual Reference Library (Gale).


Books give a broad, thorough treatment of a subject.

If you need a broad, thorough analysis of your subject, books may expand upon what you learned from the Reference Materials.
To find books use Mango Everything Search or eBook Collection (EBSCO).


Periodicals provide information that is focused, usually from a contemporary point of view.

Once you have the background and broad understanding of your subject, use articles from databases to get concise, factual information written by experts.  Use the keywords you have chosen in the databases.
For scholarly peer reviewed journal articles search Academic Search Complete.
For current issues try Opposing Viewpoints.
For local issues search Florida Today.


Web Pages can include all information types. Since web publication is fast, use it for very current information.

Google Scholar can provide access to a wide variety of information from government and educational agencies. 
Use Advanced Search in Google to limit search results to .edu or .gov.
Use Google Scholar to search for scholarly content on the web.