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Library Basics: Narrowing and Broadening Your Topic!

Selected resources for choosing a topic and searching the databases

Getting Started


***Choose a manageable and interesting topic not too broad or too narrow scope.

Resources for background information in handbooks, journals, encyclopedias:
Search Still OneSearch Catalog, Google scholar, Browse eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), Browse Chronicle of Higher Education, Browse dissertations ProQuest Dissertation Search discipline specific library databases.  

After choosing an interesting and manageable topic and gathering background information, add focus with a research question

Explore Questions

Ask open-ended “how” and “why” questions about your general topic.

Consider the “so what” of your topic.

Why does this topic matter to you? Why should it matter to others?

Reflect on the questions you have considered. Identify one or two questions you find engaging and which could be explored further through research.

Determine and Evaluate Your Research Question

What aspect of the more general topic will you explore?

 Is your research question focused? Why does your argument matter?

How might others challenge your argument?

What kind of sources will you need to support your argument?

***Once you have a solid topic, formulate your research question or hypothesis and begin finding information in discipline specific library databases.  

Start Broad and Reasonably Refine your Research

Too broad topic is hard to search because you will get too much information

Too Broad

Cancer too broad because there is different type is of cancer, better to pick a type of cancer

Breast cancer:  may be too broad because there is been a lot of research done on it and lots of factor s contribute to it

*** Better pick a particular type of treatment, aspect of the disease or population

Eating Disorders too broad


*** “nutrition and diet factors of breast cancer in urban areas. Could narrow it further by demographics.

*** “Causes and treatment of Bulimia in college athletes”
*** “Prevalence of anorexia in teenage males in the united states”

*** “alternative treatments for chronic eating disorders in adults”


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Maud Mundava