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African-American Studies

Choosing a Topic

Choosing a topic can be the most challenging step to writing a research paper. It can be particularly difficult in a multidisciplinary subject such as African-American Studies. You may change your topic, subtopics, scopes, and approaches frequently until you find the right combination of your interest, the available literature, and the assignment's requirements.  Here are some resources to help:

  • Follow the library's step-by-step guide to choosing topics;

  • View an easy-to-navigate video tutorial on choosing your topic;

  • Browse The African American Experience visual and textual database for ideas;

  • Review recent publications and statistics available on the lower left of this page;

  • Browse selected online books and encyclopedias from the topic on the left;

  • Visit the Africana section of the AAACNA Center on King's 5th Floor; 

  • Browse Wikipedia to generate ideas, but in general, instructors do not consider Wikipedia a substantiated source. We recommend you browse it for subtopics, then locate substantiated sources in the library's holdings.

Choosing and Refining Your Topic

As you begin your research, you will likely find that you will need to fine-tune your topic based on the articles you find and what, if applicable, what you discover while conducting your literature review.  This is a reiterative process that will continue until you settle on your final topic or question. 


This list, originally compiled by university librarian Kathryn Blackmer-Reyes, includes common topics within social science.  These make useful keywords when searching our databases.  One way to help create your topic or research inquiry is to choose an approach from the first column and link it to one or two topics in the remaining columns. 

Approaches Topics    
An analysis of... Abortion Gang violence Racial profiling
A comparison between...

Affirmative action

Gay rights Racism
The consequences of... Age discrimination Genetically modified food     Rape
The effectiveness of.... Addiction and substance abuse Gentrification Retail profiling
The efficacy of.... Animal rights Global warming Recycling and conservation
The impact of.... Birth control Gun control Right to work
Findings from.... Bulimia nervosa/Anorexia nervosa Gun rights Same-sex marriage
The relationship between...               Bullying Hate crimes Sex trade
A review of.... Campus crime Hazing Sexism
  Capital punishment/Death penalty Health care Sexual harassment
  Child abuse Home foreclosures Shopping while black
  Child labor Human trafficking Single parenting
  Classism Hunger Social media and privacy
  Climate change Immigration/immigrants Spousal abuse/Intimate partner abuse
  Cloning Illiteracy Steroid use in sports
  Corporal punishment Legalization of marijuana Suicide
  Cyber bullying Mass murder Sweat shops
  Date rape Mental health Teen pregnancy
  Debt Minimum wage Terrorism
  Disaster relief Obesity Unemployment
  Domestic violence Opiods Union busting
  Driving while black Outsourcing jobs Vigilantism
  Eating disorders Police brutality Violence in schools
  Education/Charter schools Pollution Voter disenfranchisement
  Environmental pollution Population growth Voting rights restrictions
  Environmental racism Pornography War
  Equal pay Poverty Workplace violence
  Euthanasia/Mercy killing/Assisted suicide    Prayer in school  
  Excessive force by law enforcement Prisons/Sentencing  
  Felony disenfranchisement Prostitution