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Mellon College of Science: 38-302: PROPEL: Science and Society: Finding a Research Topic

This guide provides information and resources that will be useful for the group projects.

Explore for Topic Ideas

In addition to Google, other interesting resources for exploration will include local news sources.  With creative searches, students can identify local issues that have great potential for study.  Note that many news sources with have topics like "Science & Technology" that the reader can use.

The Campus


The Community

Locate Background Material

The resources below can provide succinct overviews of your possible topic.  Some might even suggest areas of future work or indicate active research areas.  In addition to these databases, consider trying to find a recent scientific review article that is related or closely related to your topic.  See the box to the right.

Locating Review Articles

In many cases, finding a scientific review article will entail taking the results of a topical search and then simply finding those which contain the word "review" OR "survey" OR the phrase "state of the art" in the title.  Many of these review articles will help to identify knowledge gaps in the field, near-term opportunities for scientific advancement or prime areas for problem-solving applications. 

A few databases actually allow you to search for a "Review Article" document type.  They are: 

Use Background Material or Scientific Reviews or Journal Articles to Locate Knowledge Gaps or Recommended Future Research

As you read the literature be especially mindful of article segments pertaining to future research, discussion or conclusions.