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Life, Society & Drugs: Appropriate Sources

This guides shows how to identify appropriate sources for Salt Lake Community College's Life, Society & Drugs course

Getting Started with Research Topics

This page provides tips on selecting and developing a topic for HLTH 1050's major research project. If you are unsure about your research topic, please reach out to your professor. 

View the document linked below to browse a list of sample topics pulled from past students' research papers.

Tips for Choosing a Topic

Tip #1: Choose a topic you care about

Start with personal experience or interest. If you are interested in your topic, you may enjoy the research process more. For example, if Rui wants to go into maternal and neonatal nursing, they may choose to research the impacts of maternal alcohol consumption on infant birth weight.

Tip #2: Think about something you've recently learned or read in a class

Think about whether a particular assignment, article, or video stood out to you in the class. This paper allows you do learn more about a topic covered briefly in class that piqued your interest.

Tip #3: Consider the scope of your topic

If your topic is too broad, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of sources you find or feel like you have no clear goal of what to do. If your topic is too narrow, you may have a very hard time finding sources. Look for a topic that is “just right.” To narrow a topic, try focusing on a specific demographic (teenagers, women, families, etc.), a specific drug, and/or a type of effect (developmental, neurological, social, etc.). You may need to broaden a topic if you are unable to find enough appropriate sources on your topic.

  • Too broad: heroin and opioid addiction
  • Better: How does the abuse of prescription opioids by mothers affect their families?
  • Too narrow: “vomit” rehab at the Wat Thamkrabok temple in Thailand
  • Better: religious influences on drug rehab

Tip #4: Remember to have an international focus.

Strategies for Developing Your Topic

Strategy #1: Ask self-reflective questions.

Ask yourself questions to help focus your topic. Ask yourself: Why did I choose this topic in the first place? What specifically interests me about it? Do I have personal experience with this? This reflective process can help you move from a general topic to a more specific one that interests you. For example, perhaps you know someone who suffers from chronic pain and had medical marijuana recommended to them. You could learn more about how medical marijuana helps with chronic pain and any negative medical side effects.

Strategy #2: Ask what you want to learn and why.

Try answering this question by filling in the blanks: “I am researching (topic), because I want to find out (issue / question) in order to (application, or why it matters). For example:  I am researching medical marijuana, because I want to learn about the pros and cons of its use in order to determine whether it may help safely alleviate chronic pain.

Strategy #3: Create an argument.

Another way to refine your initial topic is to give your opinion, take a side to an argument, or present a different outlook. Try to keep an open mind and withhold your own judgement until you have done some research. Ask something like: “What are the consequences of X on Y?” For example: What are the consequences of cannabis use on teenagers' cognitive development?