Keep it Manageable.
A topic will be very difficult to research if it is too broad or narrow. One way to narrow a broad topic such as "the environment" is to limit the topic. Some common ways to limit a topic are:
Example: What environmental issues are most important in the Southwestern United States?
Example: How does the environment fit into the Navajo world view?
Example: What are the most prominent environmental issues of the last 10 years?
Example: How does environmental awareness effect business practices today?
Example: What are the effects of air pollution on senior citizens?
Remember that a topic may be too difficult to research if it is too:
Example: What sources of pollution affect the Gallia County water supply?
Example: How can the environment contribute to the culture, politics and society of the Western United States?
Putting the topic in the form of a question will help focus on what type of information you want to collect.
If you have any difficulties or questions with focusing your topic, discuss the topic with your professor, or with the library staff..
If you are finding too much information, your research topic may be too B R O A D. Consider narrowing it to a more specific:
|Time||Civil War, Iron Age, 1920's, 18th Century|
|Location||Europe, U.S., Denver, urban, eastern|
|Population||age, race, gender, nationality, ethnic group, occupation|
|Event or Aspect||government regulations related to cloning, Battle of the Bulge in WWII|
|Person or Group||college students, Democrats, Republicans|
Broad Topic: Global warming
Narrower Topic: How will climate change impact sea levels and the coastal United States?
If you are finding too little information, your topic may be too NARROW, specialized, or current. Use these strategies to broaden your topic.
|Generalize your topic. If your topic is the health effects of fracking on a specific community, broaden your topic to all communities in that state or the United States.|
|If your topic is very current, there may not be books or journal articles available yet. Choose an alternative topic that is not so recent.|
|Database Choice||Use other databases in your subject area or consider databases in a related subject area which might cover the topic from a different perspective.|
|Synonyms||Use a thesaurus to find synonyms for your topic. When reading background information, note the terminology that is used.|
|Related||Explore related issues.|
|Expand / Remove||Expand or remove: location, time period, aspect, event, population, person/group.|
Example of a Narrow Topic: Does cartoon viewing cause aggression in children under age five?
Broader: What are the negative effects of TV on children and adolescents?