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WRI 10 (McIntire): Manage Your Topic

Topic Selection

Finding the Right Scope for Your Topic

Narrow Your Topic or Research Question

It's very common to select a topic or formulate a question that starts out too broad

Question 1:  What impact do issues related to mental health have on society? (broad)

When the scope of your topic is too big, it's hard to dig through the huge volume of information available to find something relevant.  It's also hard to write a paper or give a presentation of with any depth. 

Most scholarly research examines fairly narrow topics and looks at relationships between concepts.  For example, mental health is a pretty broad topic, but looking at the relationship between mental health and privacy might be a more manageable topic.

There are many ways to narrow a topic that is too broad by asking one or more W questions.  Let's use mental health as an example:

  • mental health and privacy (what)
  • mental health and exercise (what)
  • mental health and teenagers (who)
  • mental health and the United States (where)

Use how, what, or where (two or three) to develop a research question on the topic of mental health:

Question 2:  How can university policies support students who are struggling with issues related to their mental health? (narrowed)