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Finding Great Topic Ideas for Your Paper or Project!

Print books and eBooks

One easy way to find topic ideas is to "start big" and start browsing print books on the Reynolds Libraries shelves. Reynolds Libraries print books are arranged by subject using Library of Congress call numbers (the book's "address"). Here is an example of steps to following when browsing books on the shelves:  

  1. You read in your class that many of the world's major religions have basic beliefs in common. Go to any campus library and ask a librarian for help in locating books on religion.
  2. The librarian takes you to the section where the call numbers (the book's "address") begin with the letters BL - BX.
  3. A great way to see what you may find interesting is to start looking at book titles and begin to get more specific - perhaps about comparative religion.  
  4. The next step is taking a few books of the shelves and checking out the book's table of contents (front pages of book) and the index (back pages of book) to get ideas for even more specific ideas that interest you.

Reynolds Libraries has several book collections that will help you come up with topic ideas as well as help you narrow down your topic: 

  1. After you click on any link below, browse the titles from the catalog results list to get topic ideas.
  2. If you find a title that interests you, click on the book title to see information about that book. (NOTE: Sometimes there will be more than one "version" of a title, e.g., Drug Legalization by Noël Merino has 3 versions to choose from. Click "See all versions," choose one from the list, and continue with step 3 below.)
  3. A pop-up window will appear. On the pop-up window, click DETAILS (near the red X on the left).
  4. The pop-up will scroll down to show the book's chapters. These chapter titles may give you some ideas on how to narrow down your topic.
  5. These books can be checked out of the library and will also serve as a resource for your research assignment.

Encyclopedias (often for in-library use only, unless available from a library database) are also great ways to browse and begin learning about a topic. Here are just a few encyclopedia samples:

  • Gale eBooks (library database).  Includes encyclopedias from the following subject areas: business, history, law, medicine, nation & world, science, social science.