Research Project Topic Tools & Outlines

Students, try using these tools to help you decide on a topic for a project:

  • Research Workshop: How to Get Started With Your Project
    Easy-to-follow workshop will help you develop and structure your research project.
  1. Consider your audience when choosing & narrowing down a topic
    1. Is the purpose of this topic strictly to inform (and not to persuade) your audience?
    2. Why did you pick this topic? How will you explain your personal credibility to your audience?
    3. Why will this topic be interesting to your audience? Why should the audience care about this topic?
  2. Brain squeeze your topic using cluster, listing or free-write method
    1. Write down everything you know about this topic: facts, questions, ideas, and images
  3. Determine your Specific Purpose statement
    1. This is the statement that explains what you want your audience to be able to do after reading your paper. Every specific purpose statement begins with “At the end of my paper, the reader will be able to…”
  4. Select the main points of your paper
    1. After your brainstorming, identify the 2-4 main ideas you will be explaining to your audience. Use full sentences and repetitive language. Main points are not phrased as a question: “The first stage of hurricane development is…. The second stage of hurricane development is…”
  5. Create your Central Idea
    1. The central idea is a one sentence that includes the main idea of your speech. Example “The three sections of a speech are the introduction, the body and the conclusion.” Write your Central Idea below in a full sentence.
  6. Develop Your Main Points
    1. On a sheet of paper, write one of your main ideas at the top and your supporting material below. Repeat for each idea.
  7. Plan and research your topic
    1. Where specifically will your research your main ideas? (Not just “Google.”) Write down as many different sources as you can think of before doing a broad internet search.
  8. Include transitions between main ideas
    1. These statements will lead your audience from one main idea to the next: “Now that we have discussed the first stage of hurricane development, let’s move on to the second stage…”
  9. Create your Introduction and Conclusion
    1. Now that you know what you want to say, create your introduction and conclusion
    2. Introduction
      1. Get the audience’s attention
      2. Introduce the topic
      3. Give the audience a reason to listen; connect the topic to the audience
      4. Establish your personal credibility regarding this topic
      5. Preview your main points the speech
    3. Conclusion
      1. Signal the end of the speech
      2. Summarize main points
      3. Close with impact
  10. Create and edit outline
    1. Use visual framework (Roman numerals identify main ideas, capital letters identify supporting ideas, etc.)
  11. Create a speaking outline/notecards
    1. Reduce your preparation outline to brief phrases and statements. Use same visual framework.
      Use 1 side of note cards. Write legibly and BIG!
  12. Create Visual Aids
    1.  Will your visual aid clarify, create interest, or help your audience retain the information? Is it clear and not distracting
    1. Stand up, have a live audience, and practice with your visual aids.

  1. Specific Purpose Statement
  2. Central Idea
  3. Introduction
    1. Statement of Impact to Get Audience’s Attention
    2. Introduce the Topic to the Audience
    3. Connect with the Audience/Give the Audience Reason to Listen
    4. Establish Personal Credibility about Topic
    5. Preview Main Points of Speech
  4. Body
    1. State your Main Idea in a Full sentence
      1. First Supporting Idea that explains Main Idea
        1. Supporting Material: Statistical Proof, Stories, and Examples
      2. Second Supporting Idea that explains Main Idea
        1. Supporting Material: Statistical Proof, Stories, and Examples
    2. Transition
      1. Statement that moves audience from one idea to the next
  5. Conclusion
    1. Signal End of the Speech
    2. Re-state (Summarize) Main Points
    3. Close with Impact Statement to Leave a Lasting Memory
  6. Works Cited
    1. Cite your sources in MLA format

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