Unsure of where to start on narrowing you topic? Try some of the below handouts to get you started.
Have you been assigned a research paper, but you don't know where to start? That's okay! Many students struggle with topic selection. One of the most common issues is picking a topic too broad for the scope of the paper.
Why are broad topics a problem?
What can you do to narrow your topic?
You first will want to gather some background on your topic. Ask yourself some of the following questions:
If you need to present an opinion or argument about your topic, supported with academic resources, another good option is to formulate consequence based question, such as "What are the consequences of X on Y?" Here are some examples of what that may look like:
Lastly, you can use the worksheets to the left of this column as a guideline. Using the 5 W's (Who, What, Where, When, and Why) can another way to narrow a topic.
Adapted from Finding & Narrowing Your Topic LibGuide, BYU Libraries, https://guides.lib.byu.edu/stepbystep and Narrowing a Topic Idea, USC Libraries, https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/narrowtopic
Completely stumped on finding a topic? First, take a deep breath! It's normal to struggle even thinking about a topic.
While your final topic should never be broad, it sometimes helps to start broad and then narrow. Ask yourself some questions to help brainstorm:
If you are still stumped, check reputable news websites to see what the top stories of the day might be or browse some of the issues databases the library has through GALILEO. Just be sure that the information you are reading could be considered a reliable source.
(Adapted from "Finding and Narrowing Your Topic, BYU Libraries, https://guides.lib.byu.edu/stepbystep)
Lanier Technical College Libraries
Director of Library Services
Barrow & Jackson Campus