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ENG 110 / ENG 112: College English - Fall 2019: Developing a Topic

Narrowing Your Topic

If your research topic is too broad, you will find too much information and will need to narrow the scope. Take a few minutes to think about your topic . . .

  • Is there a specific aspect of your topic that interests you?  
  • Can you limit your research to a specific time period?
  • Consider focusing your research on one geographic area.
  • Can you focus your topic on a specific group of people or things?

Example:  A broad topic might be eating disorders, but you could narrow it by focusing on a specific eating disorder in a specific class of people.

Broadening Your Topic

If you are having difficulty finding enough information, there could be many reasons.  Start by thinking about the following:

  • Your topic may be too narrow, and you may need to broaden it.
  • Your topic may be too current for scholarly books and articles to have been published.
  • Have you searched in all the library databases for information?  Consider talking to a librarian to see if there is a specific database that you should be looking at.
  • You may not be using the right search terms.  A librarian can assist you in identifying the best keywords and phrases to use.

Example:  Trying to write a paper about drug abuse among college hockey players in Boston may be too narrow. You could consider broadening your topic to look at drug abuse among college athletes.

Selecting a Topic

In selecting a topic, it is always a good idea to pick a topic you are interested in.  If you need ideas, try checking out some of the following resources.  And if you already have your topic these are excellent resources to use as you begin your research.

Picking Your Topic is Research

Check out this video from North Carolina State University on picking your topic!

Reference Librarian

Linda Park's picture
Linda Park
(315) 279-5208

Web Resources to Help in Choosing a Topic

Provides information for selecting the topic of your research paper.