All About Topics
For a science-related paper, project, or presentation, having the right topic can make all the difference. You may have a list of topics that your professor created or inherited. The topics may be too large. They may not feel interesting. You may not understand or care about any of them.
Fortunately, you can usually fix these problems. Even with a fixed list of topic choices you can:
- Narrow your topic -- Most professors do not want a report on every aspect of a topic. The topic, whether hands-free headsets make using cell phones while driving safer makes a more interesting paper than just explaining the evils of cell phone use while driving.
- Ask permission to choose your own topic -- Your professor could say no, but she might say "yes." A topic that interests you is more satisfying to research.
- Ask your topic a question? For argument papers your question is usually about whether something is possible, effective, or worth its cost. For other papers, you can explain how something works or where it came from.
"How it works" questions are by their nature open (Your sources don't have to support a particular view), but even argument questions about effectiveness can open up into "How effective/safe/affordable/possible is a process or technology?" These more open questions let your sources give you the information that answers the question.
And if you are Still Lost...
READ FOR EXPLORATION. GALILEO databases, credible news sources, and A-list blogs provide current and engaging articles aimed at you.
Reading for exploration may seem like pointless, extra work, but the first article that fits your topic, will be your first source. Many articles on the web have links to additional material (more sources), and you will have a topic you love and about which you feel confident.
To read for exploration:
Follow Your Interests
Science is News -- almost Without a Paywall
The New York Times' paywall limits free articles to ten per month. Fortunately, you can read an unlimited number of articles by Step by Acccessing the New York Times ProQuest
Browse Science News on Academic Search Complete. (Needs GALILEO login from home)
Browse New Scientist on Academic Search Complete. (One month embargo and needs GALILEO login from home)
National Public Radio (NPR) also covers
And PBS' Nova covers science as current events, and also offers transcripts.
Gadgets and Gizmos
What's next? Read Wired. Wired requires that you disable your ad-blocker on their pages.
The A-List blog, Gizmodo has not just articles, but links to more info.
For more technology news, try The Register.