Lake Effect Research Challenge: I Don't Have a Topic

Challenge Worksheet

Please Note:  You must be logged into your SUNY Oswego LakerApps account to access and complete the worksheets.

Section 1 Worksheet

Section 2 Worksheet

Section 3 Worksheet

Section 4 Worksheet

Section 5 Worksheet

I Don't Have a Topic

I don't have a topic, so how can the library help me with that?

When you have trouble selecting and narrowing a topic the library can probably help.

To get ideas for a topic , you can start browsing through the library's encyclopedias and other resources, online and in print.

Here are some things you'll want to think about while you look for a topic:

  • What are you curious about?
  • What's your assignment?
  • How does this relate to your life or career plans?
  • What do you want to learn more about?
  • Is this topic controversial?

Ok, so where do I look?

Try browsing lists of topics in these sources:

Also, a librarian can help you select a specialized encyclopedia to use. Here's how to Ask a Librarian.

Ok, I have a topic of one of two words. Now what?

CQ Researcher

CQ Researcher


Excellent background and analysis of recent national and international issues in the news. 

Gale Opposing Viewpoints in Context (Gale)

Gale Opposing Viewpoints in Context (Gale)


Access viewpoint articles, topic overviews, statistics, primary documents, links to websites, and full-text magazine and newspaper articles. Great for current issues research.

Library of Congress Classification System

The LC (Library of Congress) Classification Outline can be used to explore all of recorded knowledge.

When you go to the online version of the LC Classification Outline you can start by selecting a very broad field of study or discipline, such as 'Medicine.'  You will see a list of general medical fields, and selecting one of those will give you a list of all the subclasses used by the LC for that field.

Another way to use this resource is to start with a search in the Library Catalog on your topic.  Note the most commonly used call numbers in your results list.  Then go to the Classification Outline and find where those call numbers fit into the overall system.  RC435, for Psychiatry, is listed under R for Medicine, and then RC for Internal Medicine where you will see that Psyciatry is one of several Neuroscience disciplines.

The LC Classification is the basis for the call numbers in most academic libraries. 

A print version of the Outline is available at the Reference Desk.

How does this work?

The LC Classification as we know it today has been in development since 1899 as a way to catalog the subject matter of the books in the Library.  If a system represents what books are about, then that system itself is basically "about" the knowledge recorded in those books. 

Ask a Librarian