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Topic & Keywords

Developing Your Topic

Choosing a Topic and Writing a Research Question and Thesis Statement

Start by writing down words for what you already know about your topic from your background reading. This helps to identify what you need to find out.

  • Ask a question about your topic that can be answered by doing research. Ask something that cannot be answered with yes or no.

  • Then write a thesis statement stating your position or argument that points to the direction of your research.

  • Pick out the main terms in your question. These are your initial search terms.

  • Think of alternate words, or synonyms, for the main terms.  These can help narrow or expand your search. 


Example:

Topic:  standardized tests

Research questionWhy do many economically and socially disadvantaged students perform poorly on standardized tests?

Thesis statement: Economically and socially disadvantaged students perform badly on standardized tests because the tests are not written in standard English and are not culturally relevant to most students. 

Now choose the most descriptive and meaningful words -- keywords -- in your thesis statement that may be used to search for information. Also think of synonyms, if needed.

Economically and socially disadvantaged students perform badly on standardized tests because the tests are written in formal English and are culturally irrelevant to most students.

Keywords Synonyms
standardized tests CAASPP
economically disadvantaged students poor, African American, Latino, minority, English language learners (ELL)
formal English non-standard
culturally irrelevant lack background knowledge & experiences

 

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