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PHIL 103: Critical Thinking: Turning your topic into a search strategy

Topic statement and keywords

My example topic is Facebook and users' privacy.

Step 1: Write down your topic statement. A successful topic statement is usually just one sentence. 

Examples of topic statements:

 If you think that your privacy is the company's responsibility:

I think that social media companies like Facebook need to strengthen privacy policies that protect the users they depend upon to stay in business.

If you think that your privacy is the users' responsibility:

I think the use of social media applications such as Facebook is voluntary, so users need to learn how to protect themselves by being aware of privacy risks involved. 

Step 2: Pull out the keywords from your topic statement. Keywords are the most important ideas found in your topic statement. 


 Facebook           social media            privacy        policy         users       

Tips for writing topic statements

  • Your topic statement must be stated as a conclusion which you will then demonstrate or ‘prove’ in your paper. 
  • Your topic statement is not a question; it’s an answer. It is the focal point around which your research will revolve.

Tips for identifying keywords

  • Identify the most important nouns in your topic statement. Other words are irrelevant.
  • Think of related terms that describe your topic. The related terms may be more specific or less specific than the original terms in your topic statement. 
  • Use synonyms that describe your topic.  An online thesaurus is a great place to find synonyms.