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Instructional content for ENC 1101 information literacy modules

Topic Selection



Would you believe that the selection of research topic is probably the most important step in completing a successful research assignment? In fact, the topic you select could be the deciding factor in your ultimate success or failure in writing-intensive courses like the ones you're taking now. The ability to define a good, manageable topic is an important skill that a lot of students don't really think about. Why is it so important?

Well, for one thing, you'll be spending a lot of time learning about your topic- its history, key players, and its impact on society just to name a few areas. If you're not passionate or at least really interested in your topic, you'll tire of it quickly and you won't feel motivated to learn about it and research it. But you also have to consider the scope of your topic.

For the first assignment, you'll be creating an annotated bibliography, so you'll have to be sure that there are enough resources out there for you to obtain at least six published within the time period your instructor has specified (2000 - 2014). But be careful of resource overload! That's not good either. Learning to find that sweet spot; the convergence of personal interest with the balance between information overload and information scarcity is the key to success. 

 If all that has scared you into thinking that you'll never be able to locate the sources you need and get a good grade, don't worry! This module is going to help explain how to easily and effectively explore background information on a topic, and apply some simple questions and criteria that will help you achieve a manageable focus for your research.


Lesson Objectives

After completing this module, you should be able to:

  • Locate the ENC 1101 library research guide from the USF Libraries web page and identify at least two library databases that will provide background information on a topic
  • Select a manageable research topic from among a list of given topics
  • Identify research topics that are too broad in scope, versus those that are too narrow, given a series of examples
  • Use sample research topics to both expand and narrow the focus


jigsaw-puzzle-piece.jpgModule Activities

Please complete the following activities:

  •  View this video about locating your course guide (3:50):


  •  Watch this video on "Choosing a Manageable Research Topic" from CSU San Bernardino 


head_quiz.jpegModule Quiz

Complete the quiz for this module in your Canvas course. This quiz contains seven items in a variety of question formats. You will have 15 minutes to complete the quiz. You may take this quiz twice (highest score retained).