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BIOL 805: Professional Scientific Communication (Da Silva Carvalho)

This guide is specific to students taking BIOL805: Professional Scientific Communication taught by Medhavi Ambardar.

Exploring Topics

Exploring Topics

Narrowing down your topic can be daunting. Searching for related concepts in a reference database can help you get to know the possibilities. The following resources are guaranteed to have resources that will help you find a topic.



Library Resources

Data Sources

Steps to Developing a Topic

Read your assignment and note any requirements.

  • Is there a required page length?
  • How many sources do you need?
  • Does the paper have to be in a specific format like APA?
  • Are there any listed goals for the topic, such as synthesizing different opinions, or applying a theory to a real-life example?

Formulate a general idea.

  • Look at your syllabus or course schedule for broad topic ideas.
  • Think about reading assignments or class lectures that you found interesting.
  • Talk with your professor or a librarian. 
  • Check out social media and see what has been trending that is related to your course. 
  • Think about ideas from popular videos, TV shows, and movies.
  • Read and watch the news to see if there is anything going on related to your course. 
    • Read The New York Times  (FHSU students have free access through the Library)
    • Watch NBC Learn (FHSU students have free access through the Library)
  • Search your library for relevant journals and publications related to your course and browse them for ideas
  • Browse online discussion forums, news, and blogs for professional organizations for hot topics

Do some background research on your general idea.

  • Read an encyclopedia entry.
  • See what your course notes and textbook say about the subject.
  • Google it. 

Mind map it.

A mind map is an effective way of organizing your thoughts and generating new questions as you learn about your topic. 

  • Video on how to do a mind map. 

Ask Questions to focus on what interests you.

Who?   What?   When?   Where?   Why?

We can focus our ideas by brainstorming what interests us when asking who, what, when where, and why:

anonymous by Gregor Cresnar from the Noun ProjectWho? special education students, elementary students


what by Dinosoft Labs from the Noun ProjectWhat?  flexible seating, classroom management


clock by Iconika from the Noun ProjectWhen? Past ten years, past five years, Mid-1990's to Present


Map By Parallel Digital Studio vis The Noun ProjectWhere? elementary schools, integrated classrooms, middle schools


Cloud Question Mark by Dinosoft Labs from the Noun ProjectWhy? focus, improved test scores, less disruptive


Research Question: Does flexible seating in an elementary classroom improve student focus?

Write out your topic question & reread the assignment criteria.

  • Can you answer your question well in the number of pages required? 
  • Does your topic still meet the requirements of the paper? Ex: is the question still about the sociology of gender studies and women?
  • Is the topic too narrow to find research? 

Developing a Topic and Writing a Research Question

The following tutorial from Forsyth Library will walk you through the process of defining your topic.