Tips for Defining a Topic

Read, Read, Read!

You cannot select a topic by first searching for stakeholders or a policy!!  Read about a current issue or problem first; as you read information from a variety of sources, make note of the stakeholders and policies that are mentioned in those sources.

  • Keep track of which organizations, groups, people, etc. are mentioned as you read various articles.
    • Follow up on those organizations/groups/people by conducting a search for them and/or their organization in order to learn more about them.
    • You can also search for the organization/group/person along with the topic to try and find sources that mention both together.  (For example: abortion Planned Parenthood)
    • If you are having difficulties identifying the proponents and/or opponents of a particular issue, try conducting a search using your topic and the word ‘debate’ or ‘controversy’.  (For example: abortion debate)  This will return results where the debate on your topic is mentioned.
  • Keep track of which policies are mentioned as you read various articles.
    • Follow up on these policies by conducting a search for them.
    • Go to a site like to search for the policy and learn whether it is active, current, tabled, etc. in Congress.

Check out the Useful Resources page for resources that can help you define your topic.