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SPARK: Choosing a Topic

A resource for students wanting to improve their academic and research skills.

Choosing a Topic

Use the options in the drop down menu under the "Choosing a Topic" tab to select a page to view, or use the "previous" and "next" buttons at the bottom of each page to work through the modules in order.

Creating a Working Thesis

Generating ideas for an essay can feel challenging. Even when a list of potential topics is provided, you will need to consider what aspects of, or point of view on, the general topic you will develop. For topics that have been assigned (or that you choose from a list), you may be expected to modify or mold the topic into something that is your own.

At this early stage, you want to develop a working thesis statement to guide your research, reading, and writing. It is unnecessary to generate a definitive thesis statement or argument at this point as your ideas are likely to evolve.

A useful strategy when creating a working thesis is to develop some driving questions to guide your research. Begin by considering course themes or issues relevant to your assignment. Examine these and then pay attention to questions that come to mind.

When coming up with a driving question, ask yourself: "what do I want to know about the topic?"

Working Thesis Driving Question

Example 1:

In using the theme of environmentalism and the topic of recycling, here are a few driving questions to consider:

  • What does Regina do with disposed electronics?
  • What environmental risks exist with electronics?
  • Are these environmental risks being taken into account?

A working thesis based on these driving questions could be: Regina should expand recycling programs for discarded electronics.

Example 2:

In using the theme of reproductive rights and the topic of child rearing, here are a few driving questions to consider:

  • What impediments exist for working parents?
  • What access to daycare exists in Saskatchewan?
  • Is daycare affordable for parents who really need it?
  • What is available in other provinces?
  • Should government be involved in providing affordable daycare?

A working thesis based on these driving questions could be: Saskatchewan should provide access to affordable daycare similar to what is available in Québec.