When you get a research assignment in college, your professor may give you a prompt. A prompt is, simply put, the rules for the paper that you are assigned to write. It will have things like due date, research question, resources to use (like journals or newspapers), and other rules for the paper. A research question is the topic that you are going to be writing about expressed in a narrative form. For example:
The American Civil War had many causes, in addition to the obvious one of slavery. What are some of the other issues that fueled the start of hostilities between the North and the South? How did the viewpoints of these issues vary between the North and South? How did people of different economic classes view these issues?
Sometimes, your professor will allow you to choose your own topic, usually within certain guidelines. What do you do then? Many students struggle with this and often pick topics that are inappropriate or difficult to research. Consider the following:
Here are some options to explore when you need help choosing or narrowing down your topic:
After you have a general idea of what you'd like to research, there are some things you can do to make your research easier.