Library Research Guide to Psychology: Illustrated Search Strategy and Sources

By Nancy E. Douglas; Nathan E. Baum | Go to book overview

1 Choosing Your Topic

How to Begin to Choose a Topic

"A great man will find a great subject, or which is the same thing, make a subject great." -- Emerson, Journals.

There are two basic types of papers commonly required in psychology classes. Both start with a review of the literature -- a search to trace down all research and theory on a particular topic. Once the paper is written, some assignments are complete, but others must be expanded into the design and performance of an experiment testing a hypothesis developed during the literature search. This book will prepare you to do literature searches. In Appendix IV we have provided references to handbooks which can help you in the actual writing of papers and in designing and conducting experiments.

If you can select your topic, choose a subject which really interests you. Such a topic will energize you, stir your imagination, and enliven your writing. Don't choose a topic just because it looks easy or because your professor seems to be interested in it.

For the sample topic in this book, let's say you have chosen to study the effect on viewers of television violence. As a television viewer yourself, you have seen violence in news and dramatic presentations and have thought about its possible effects on yourself and others. You are aware that it is a topic that has aroused a great deal of interest and controversy. You have observed that some stations either limit or exploit violence in their broadcasts, but you do not really

"I need some help with a paper on human emotion. Does the library have anything on rage?"

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