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Understanding Research

Learn how to search, identify, evaluate, and utilize academic research.

Choose a Topic

Choose a Topic

Choosing a Topic

There are several things to think about when selecting a topic:

  • First, have you been assigned a topic or are you free to choose a topic?
  • Next, how many words or pages do you need to write (or how long does a presentation have to be)?
  • Do you need to include specific types of sources in your citations?
  • Finally, if you can select your own topic, what are you passionate about or most interested in from the class?

If you still need help choosing your topic, the Academic Success Center can help you understand your assignment and select a topic.

Expand Your Topic

Expand Your Topic

Once you have your topic, if you are having a hard time finding enough information then your topic might be too narrow.
If that’s the case, try:

  • Exploring related topics or products,
  • Comparing or contrasting your topic with another topic,
  • Choosing an alternative topic that isn’t as recent.

You can also:

  • Consider the time period your topic is covering,
  • Look at a larger sample population, or
  • Expand the geographic area being discussed. 

Refine Your Topic

If you need to narrow a topic from a broad subject to a specific research question or thesis statement, one of the easiest ways is by asking yourself the 5Ws – who, what, where, when, and why

You don't have to answer all the questions, but should answer enough so that your topic is manageable to research and will fit within your assignment length requirement.

Refining a Topic with the 5Ws: Who, What, Where, When, and Why (infographic) - accessible PDF below image


Want to try a different way to refine your topic? Check out the From Topic to Question infographic!