Topic Development

  • First, consider a topic area that interests you. Research and writing takes a good amount of time, so spend it on a topic you care about.
  • Your topic might start off broad or narrow, but if you keep it that way you will likely get frustrated. Too broad leads to far too many sources and a lack of focus. Too narrow leads to far too few sources to be able to write a paper.
    • You want your topic to fall somewhere in the middle, broad enough that you can find research on the topic, but narrow enough to adequately cover a clearly focused topic in the required length of your paper. 
  • Background overviews and reference sources are great ways to start your research and develop a topic. They will give you a broad summary of a larger topic area, which helps you get more informed and leads you to a more narrow issue within the topic, and they will also lead you to more sources. 
  • Keep in mind this is not a linear process. Your topic will change as you learn more. Maybe you realize your topic is too narrow and you see what the broader issue is. Maybe you learn more about a big topic area and realize there is a specific issue you want to explore. You will also come across new and better search words as you continue to look through search results. 
  • Our Diagnose Your Search Problems tutorial can help with finding too many, too few, or too irrelevant results.