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WR121 - Amdahl: Topic Selection

Picking Your Topic IS Research

Video created by NCSU Libraries.License, credits, and contact information can be found at

TED Talks

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in short talks. Browse TED for talks about culture. 

Gather Search Language as You Explore

As you are reading sources and refining your topic, write words and phrases that you could use to find more information on your topic. Search terms can be the names of people, important events or legislation related to your topic. There may be a preferred term or label used to describe your topic.

To collect keywords, subject terms, topic language, and research ideas, you might: 

  • Take out a piece of paper and a writing utensil and take handwritten notes
  • Open a word document and save it to the desktop. Copy and paste or type your notes. Save your work as you go! 
  • Go to your Google Drive and create a Google Doc then copy and paste or type your notes as you go

Key Words - They're Called Key for a Reason

You will want to keep notes on key terms that you find as you do your research. They can make your searching easier and more effective. Examples of some terms that might be key words:

Sepulchral monuments [believe it or not, this is what library catalogs use for "gravestones"]

Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act [=Affordable Care Act ="Obamacare"]

BWCs [="body worn cameras" = "police body cameras"]

Jan Hendrik Schön; David Baltimore [famous scientific frauds]