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Writing 10 (Elkins): Manage Your Topic

College Reading & Composition

Spreadsheet - Research Questions

Topic Selection

Challenges of Broad Topics or Research Questions

Challenges of Broad Topics or Research Questions

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

Research Question:  How beneficial or problematic is cell phone use for our society?

For Discussion: Why is this a successful or unsuccessful research question?

Research Questions: Best Practices

Ask a question of interest.

By asking a research question, you are keeping an open mind about what the research may reveal.  See if your question is TRUE for these five criteria.  If so, then your research question is probably workable. 

  1. It cannot be sufficiently answered with a simple yes/no or a single piece of information.
  2. It has a problem associated with it.
  3. It has social significance.
  4. There is reliable evidence available to address it.
  5. It has appropriate scope.

Together: You will have to do some preliminary research to really discover if all of these statements are TRUE for your proposed research question.