Research Series: Refining Your Topic

Sometimes when we choose a topic to research, our topic is too broad. For instance, you’re assigned a 5 page research paper. This might seem like a lot, but once you start researching you will need to  narrow your topic to fill those 5 pages. With  a topic that is too broad, you could write an entire book with the amount of research you can find!

To begin, start with your broad topic and add extra elements to it. For example, the ‘Civil Rights Movement’ can be narrowed to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s. To focus it even further you might look at the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s in Washington, D.C.

Picture demonstrating narrowing a topic

 

See how I’m adding these extra elements to focus my topic? First I add a time period and then I add a place. The extra elements are not limited to time frames and locations; sometimes they are specific people or themes.

Starting with a good topic will make researching a lot easier!  As always, if you need more help with your topic or research please contact the NOVA Online library at NOVA Online-Library@nvcc.edu.

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