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Introduction to Research: Topic Formation

This guide will help you get started on the research process

Finding a Topic

Finding a topic can be a difficult process. You want to find a topic that is not too narrow or too broad.

Suggestions for finding a topic:

  • Use a database like Opposing Viewpoints that lists controversial topics. 
  • Use the reference sources to find an introductory article about a topic. The more you know about a topic the easier it will be to narrow.
  • Do a Google search on a topic you are interested in and look at a few sites for ideas.
  • Review your notes for topics discussed in class.

 

Topic - Too broad or too narrow?

Try to find a topic that is not so broad that you have too much information or so narrow that you do not have enough information. To find a topic that is appropriate for your paper, start with a broad topic and narrow it down by selecting a section of that topic as you learn about it.

Is my topic too broad?

  • If you can say your topic using one word it is probably too broad.
    • Example: My topic is obesity.
  • If you try to find sources for a topic that is too broad you will be overwhelmed by how much is available. 

Is my topic to narrow?

  • If your topic gets too specific it is probably too narrow.
    • Example: My topic is childhood obesity and school lunch and Essex County New Jersey.
  • If you try to find sources on a topic that is too narrow you will have a hard time finding enough sources for your paper.
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Too Broad: obesity

Just right: childhood obesity and school lunch

Too narrow: childhood obesity and school lunch and Essex County New Jersey