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Research Process: 1e. Refine a Topic

No matter what stage of the research process you're at--only beginning, stuck in the middle, or finishing up with citation polishing--this guide is a great resource for you.

Refining Your Topic

1e. At this point, you may want to ask yourself some questions:

Is your topic too broad? If you're finding too much information and not enough related to your research questions, your topic may be too broad. Consider narrowing it by:

  • Time period -- 1960's, bronze age, etc.
  • Geographic location -- Denver, New York, Australia, etc.
  • Population -- age, race, gender, nationality or other group
  • Smaller piece of the topic:
    • Genre -- jazz (music)
    • Event -- Battle of the Bulge (WWII)
    • Aspect -- government regulations (pollution)
    • Discipline or Subject -- music (in early childhood education)

Is your topic too narrow? If you are not finding enough information or finding only items related to one or two research questions, your topic may be too narrow. Consider broadening it by:

  • Exploring related issues
  • Comparing or contrasting the topic with another topic
  • Choosing an alternative topic that is not so recent -- it may not be covered in books and journal articles yet
    • time period covered
    • population considered
    • geographic area discussed
  • Choosing an alternative topic that is not so popular -- it may be covered in popular magazines and tabloids only



Developing a Research Question

Posted with permission from LION: Library Information Literacy Online Network


Congratulations! You've completed Step 1 of the Research Process. Continue to Step 2 or return to the previous page. Back to Previous Step Continue to Next Step



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