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ENGL 1320: Writing for Social Change

Why do you need a narrow topic?

As you begin your research paper, it may seem easier to choose a broad topic that you know will fill all those pages you have to write. But while a broad topic is a good place to start, you will quickly find yourself overwhelmed with too much information. Likewise, a very specific topic may not get you enough sources to write a paper. What should you do?

HOW TO FIND A TOPIC 101

  • Allow yourself enough time in your research process to test your topic in UCA's online databases
    • Finding the right combination of keywords to use in the databases can take a bit of time, especially if you are working with a broad topic. 
  • Make adjustments to your topic based on your research
    • Maybe you found quite a few newspaper or magazine sources but not enough peer-review? Try to find a topic that isn't a new.
  • Realize that there will never be one "perfect source" for any topic
    • Your paper should be a synthesis of your research that supports your thesis
  • Ask a librarian for help
    • We know all about how the databases work, and we can help you search better and more efficiently

To help you narrow your topic, ask yourself some questions such as:

  • What geographical area do you want to focus on: United States, urban areas, rural areas?
  • Which age group are you interested in: children, young adults, college students, elderly?
  • Is there a particular aspect you are interested in researching: sociological, psychological, historical?

 

Concept Map

Narrowing your topic can be difficult, especially at the beginning of your writing process. Using a concept map may help you refine your topic.

Topic concept map