Choosing and Refining Topics

Working With Topics in Different Disciplines

Don Zimmerman, Journalism and Technical Communication Professor
Writers' understanding of topics and their fields of study allow them to focus on a specific topic. Following a good problem solving process or scientific method can help you select a topic. Whereas on the job, topics emerge from day to day activities. When working, you don't need to look for topics to write about. Your respective field/job responsibilities allow you to find the problems.

The ways that topics are approached and the types of topics that are discussed vary from discipline to discipline. It is important to investigate the types of topics that are discussed (and the ways that they are discussed) in your own discipline.

As a writer, it is necessary to determine what topics are talked about and why in your own discipline (or in the discipline for which you are writing). This can be done by way of talking to professionals in the discipline, looking at relevant journals, and conducting Internet and database searches (to name a few possibilities).

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Introduction