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Writing 10 (Trook): Manage Your Topic

Topic Selection

Share Your Research Question

Share your research question on the spreadsheets. We are going to be talking about some ways you can use your research question to find valuable resources.

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:  How beneficial or problematic is activism today? (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 with any depth. 

Most scholarly research examines fairly narrow topics and looks at relationships between concepts.  For example, activism is a pretty broad topic, but looking at the impact that activism against police violence has on college campuses 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 activism as an example:

  • activism and social class (what)
  • activism and popular culture (what)
  • activism and interpersonal relationships (what)
  • activism in India (where)
  • activism and corporations (who)
  • activism and teenagers (who) and stress (what)

Use W questions, to develop a research question on the topic of cell phones:

Question 2:  Are high school activists' relationships with their families effected by their activism? (narrowed)