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Spark 001 - Theatre and Community (Brokaw): 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:  How can plays help 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 with any depth. 

Most scholarly research examines fairly narrow topics and looks at relationships between concepts.  For example, theatre is a pretty broad topic, but looking at the impact of community theatre on cross-cultural relations 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 theatre as an example:

  • theatre and casting (what)
  • theatre and power structures (what)
  • theatre and interpersonal relationships (what)
  • theatre and Merced (where)
  • theatre and financial backing (who)
  • theatre and teenagers (who) 

Use W questions, to develop a research question on the topic of theatre

Question 2:  Can high school theatre productions help reduce bullying? (narrowed)