Choosing a Topic for a Research Paper or Presentation

CSES, HORT, AECT, PLPA, HESC Agriculture Librarian

Necia Parker Gibson's picture
Necia Parker Gibson
Mullins Library 220N

Email is the best way to contact me.

I've set my office phone to forward to my cell phone. We'll see how that works.

I'm working from home starting 3/16/2020 until further notice. Email or use the text number below. If you want me, particularly, ask for me.

Text a librarian: 479-385-0803

For students, faculty, and staff I will:
Answer your questions via email, phone or Skype or Facetime (until we are back to face to face).
Recommend databases for your topic.
Meet individually to work out your topic or discuss research strategies.

For faculty, I will:
Provide in-person library instruction tailored to your class, or tailored research guides to your class, with some lead time.

Meet with your students individually or in small groups.
Track down tricky citations. Purchase books and other materials, as funds allow.

I do consultations via email, Skype or Facetime (as well as face to face, when we can again).
Email me for an appointment.

How Long Does Research Take?

How long the research process takes varies by:

the nature of the assignment, how well the topic is covered in 'the literature'* (i.e., books, journals and other sources), what materials are available in our library or online, the length of time allotted for the assignment and the expertise of the researcher (i.e., what you know about the topic).

Things to keep in mind:

Start early so that you can revise your strategy or your paper if necessary. Some topics will have a huge amount of material available, while some will have little. If you need background material, subject encyclopedias may give more specific detail. Conducting research normally takes longer than you expect.

Frustration and backtracking are a normal part of the process. However, reference librarians can show you strategies that can save you time and can help you do your research more effectively.

Ask at the Desk, through Ask-a-librarian, by phone 575-6645, text to 479-385-0803 or email for assistance.

You can use the Research Paper Wizard (also called Hogworthy) to help plan the sequence and find sources.

subject encyclopedias


Research Paper Wizard

*This is the published material about the topic. It is not "literature" as in fiction or drama, although there is literature about the field of literature, too.