Before you can start any research on your topic, you must have a background knowledge of it. Books and websites can provide you with that knowledge.
This is important because:
Remember, background information is always a starting point for research, not an ending point.
Your topic needs to be scalable to your paper. Make sure it isn’t too broad or too narrow. If you notice any of the following while searching for articles and books, you may need to refine your topic.
|Too Broad?||Too Narrow?|
|can be summed up in one or two words||difficult to figure out where you would locate information (e.g., data may not exist)|
|difficult to come up with a thesis statement||hard to research because there is so little information (e.g., you only found 3 or 4 results in your searching)|
|hard to research because there is so much information (e.g., you found 1000s of hits in your searching)|
If your topic is too broad:
Apply journalistic question words to your topic to narrow your focus. (e.g., “Global Warming” > “Global Warming on reptiles in Australia” = what, where)
Who | What | Where | When | Why | How
If your topic is too narrow:
Remove one aspect of your topic and/or use the question words to back up a step.