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ESL Reading & Writing III,IV,VI

Why do I need to narrow my topic?

A research topic needs to be narrow enough--focused enough--so that you can accomplish many things in just 3-10 pages (depending on your instructor's page requirements).  You'll need to explain your thesis or research question, give your reader background information or context and explain your subject generally or from the perspective of your discipline of study (e.g. sociology, psychology, etc.). You may need to argue a position utilizing supporting evidence.  And, you'll need to reach and write a conclusion. To do all that in just a few pages, your topic must be very specific. The tools on this page can help.  Experiment and find the approach that is right for you.

Narrowing your topic

If you are researching a topic that you are not familiar with, you can use our reference materials to learn more about your topic.  Simply search for your broad topic in one of these databases and then begin a more narrow search when you find the area of the topic that is most exciting to you.


The Sea of Content

There is so much content on the internet. Just typing APPLES into Google will result in 9 trillion results! It is impossible to look through all that content to find the right information. 

When researching, try to narrow your topic. The more detailed your topic, the more likely you'll find exact information. 

Ask Yourself Questions 

If you are doing a research project on apples, that is too broad of a search term. Start by asking a question: 


What do I want to know more with Apples I want to know more about how Apples Become Cider!

Apple Cider is more precise than Apples, but it is still a bit too broad. Instead, ask yourself another question


What do I want to know about Apple Cider? I want to know how Apple Cider is made!

The making of apple cider is now precise, but we can narrow the topic even more by asking another question: 


What do I want to know about Making Apple Cider? I want to know how Fermentation Makes Apple Cider

The Fermentation of Apple Cider is now a very precise topic! 

If you are having trouble coming up with questions for your specific topic you can try to use the 5Ws to narrow down your search.