Choosing a Manageable Research Topic

Uploaded by PfauLibrary on 19.09.2012

[ufo warp engine] Is a monster topic out to get you?
Beginning researchers often pick a broad, general topic, thinking that big topics are easier to research.
But some topics are just too big! Consider these examples....
Global warming. Eating disorders. Physical fitness. Media violence...
It's too much! [bubble pop]
Problems With Big Topics: You cannot adequately cover a large topic in a brief paper.
You will be overwhelmed with research material.
You cannot research or write about a topic if you cannot define it clearly.
Solution--Ask Questions! Who? What? Where? When? How?
For the topic "benefits of exercise," ask "Who might benefit?"
such as: women, smokers, overweight children, the elderly.
Ask "What kind of benefits?" such as: lose weight,
improve mental awareness, reduce stress, lower blood pressure.
Now that big topic becomes smaller: "Can exercise improve memory and cognition in the elderly?"
To narrow your topic, focus on: a single event, a specific group,
a limited time period, one cause or effect, one argument or viewpoint.
For the topic "death penalty," focus on an argument or viewpoint:
"Is the death penalty a form of 'cruel and unusual punishment'?"
For the topic "voting," focus on a group of people:
"Are there gender differences in American voting patterns?"
For the topic "eating disorders," focus on a cause or effect:
"Do genetics contribute to anorexia nervosa?"
Of course, some topics are too small, making published
information difficult or impossible to find....
Topic: "How do Martians in the Inland Empire cope with the stress of being chased by ravenous topic monsters?"
The focus is too tight! A specific group,
in a specific place, with a specific condition, and a specific psychological effect.
If your topic is too small, try removing or broadening some of the specific conditions.
But be careful not to make the topic too broad again,
or you may end up [sci fi warble] like our Martian friend.
Activity: Let's get some practice!
Which of these topics is too broad? Medical marijuana.
Irony in Shakespeare's "Love's Labour's Lost". Dangers of texting while driving.
The answer is "medical marijuna."
Which of the following is the best way to narrow the topic, medical marijuana?
Medical marijuana for diseases. Medical marijuana and medical cocaine. Medical marijuana for glaucoma.
The answer is "medical marijuana for glaucoma."
Which of these topics is too narrow? The 1967 Summer of Love.
Irony in Shakespeare's "Love's Labour's Lost." Medical marijuana for cats with glaucoma.
The answer is "medical marijuana for cats with glaucoma."
With these tips, you too can tame the topic monster!
The End.