Getting Ideas
by Using Google

Using appropriate search strategies, the Internet can be used as a tool for helping you find an interesting topic for your research paper.

Search Technique #1

You can search the Internet for paper topics by using the name of your subject and "paper topics" as the key words for your search category. If you are taking a child development class, you would enter "child development" and "paper topics" in Google. When I did such a search, I discovered a list of topics that Dr. Dennis Karpowitz included as part of his syllabus.

This search also resulted in links to a number of on-line paper mills such as where we could have paid $9.95 a page to purchase a term paper. Submitting a term paper from an on-line paper mill as if it were your own — even if you pay a great deal of money for it — is a serious type of academic dishonesty and could result in your failing a course or being expelled from the college. However, there is a place for on-line paper mills sites in the educational setting.

Students might want to consult Paper Mill Sites as Learning Tools to better learn about quality standards for research papers.

Search Technique #2

By searching the Internet to find out what has already been written on your topic, you can get an overview of the material as well as get ideas about how you might approach the subject. For example, if you were assigned to write a paper about Sri Lanka, you might do a Google search using "Sri Lanka" and "travel" as your key words. Unfortunately, an overwhelming 130,000,000 web sites were identified the last time I conducted this search.

To limit the search, you can add other key words such as the subject of the course you are taking. Reading the assignment sheet or by talking to your professor, you can identify other key words you can add to your search to make it more focused. Doing so, you might learn that Sri Lanka is primarily a Buddhist country with many temples.

By modifying your search to "'Sri Lanka' travel temples" I still came up with 11,600,000 results. Even though it is not possible to read all of those web pages, by scanning the first several pages of results, you might discover some topics that both interest you and could help narrow your search.

When I did the search, tone entry mentioned a tooth temple in Kandy. As a result, I searched “travel ‘Sri Lanka' ‘tooth temple' Kandy" and ended up with 28,900 hits. Scanning the entries, I learned that the name of the temple is Dalada Maligawa.

Searching YouTube for “Dalada Maligawa," and found 1,130 videos. Because many were in Sinhalese, I re-searched YouTube using “tooth relic Kandy."

In only about 10-15 minutes, I identified a potential topic that could be fascinating.

Printer Friendly Version

Download a printer friendly copy of "Getting Ideas by Using Google."

Return to Handouts Index

References and Resources