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BIOL 385: Topics in Human Diseases - Allen: Selecting a Topic

This guide is for the class discussion project for Dr. Allen's BIOL 385.

How to Choose a Topic?

Before you can start your research, you need to choose a topic that is interesting to you.

  • Choose a topic that you are interested in! The research process is more relevant if you care about your topic.
  • Narrow your topic down to something you can research. For example, HPV is too general and broad. If your topic is too broad, you will find too much information. You can narrow down your topic by asking:
    • WHO are the people affected by this disease? Who might publish and provide information about this topic? (For example, girls and women, ages 12-26, who are eligible for the vaccine against HPV.)
    • WHAT are the major controversies or discussions surrounding this topic? What are the different viewpoints that must be considered when discussing this topic? (For example, should this vaccine be required for preteen girls? Do the side effects outweigh the benefits?)
    • WHERE is this topic an issue? Are you just looking at the United States, or is it relevant around the world or in other countries?
    • WHEN did the topic become an issue? When did the controversy begin?
    • WHY are you interested in this topic? Draw from personal experience, news articles, class discussions to make it relevant to you.

Other techniques for selecting topics:

1. Gather background information in a reference database such as Credo Reference. This will give you background information, definitions, and key people, places, times, and events.

2. Use a database like Points of View Reference Center to learn about both sides of an issue.

3. Look at newspapers and magazines in the library or online. You also may want to check out the Health section of Google News.

Credo Reference

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Credo Reference Tutorial

Points of View Reference Center

Point of View Reference Center Tutorial