Finding a Topic
The first step when working on a research project is determining your topic.
Write down all of the possible ideas for a topic. Pull ideas from:
- Personal and work experience
- Experiences of family and friends
- Browse the table of contents of professional journals, textbooks, handbooks, and subject directories
- Browse the Internet using a search engine
Once you have a list of topics you can choose one that interests you to use for your research project. It is helpful to explore the topic a bit to determine what it entails, and if you need to narrow or broaden your topic.
Narrowing a Topic
There will be times when the topic you choose is too large for one project. In this case you will want to narrow your topic.
- Brainstorm what you already know about the topic
- Sort your ideas into categories and sub-categories
- Make groups of things, places, ideas, people?
- Breakdown into time frames, locations, events or stages
- Think about causes, effects, opinions, arguments and spins on an issue
- Free write questions that come to mind about a topic
- Develop a question to answer
Broadening a Topic
There will be times when the topic you choose is too small for a research topic, there will not be enough information to work with. In this case you will want to broaden your topic.
- Consider other things, places, ideas, people...
- Expand the time frames, locations, events or stages
- Explore causes, effects, opinions, arguments and spins on an issue
- Make use of tables of contents, sub-headings and headings to discocwe larger context
- Use online catalogs and databases to find related subjects
- Scan "see also" links for related topics
- Free write questions that come to mind about the topic