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Selecting a Research Topic

Focus in on a topic

Keep it manageable. A topic will be very difficult to research if it is too broad or too narrow.  Common ways to narrow a broad topic like "the environment" are: 

  • by geographic region
    • Example: What environmental issues are most important in the Southwestern United States?
  • by culture
    • Example: How does the environment fit into the Navajo world view?
  • by time frame  
    • Example: What are the most prominent environmental issues of the last 10 years?
  • by discipline  
    • Example: How does environmental awareness effect business practices today?
  • by population group  
    • Example: What are the effects of air pollution on seniors citizens?

Remember that a topic will be more difficult to research if it is too:

  • locally confined - Topics this specific may only be covered in local newspapers, if at all!
    • Example: What sources of pollution affect the Ogden valley water supply? 
  • recent  - Be aware if a topic is very recent, books and journal articles will not be available, but newspaper and magazine articles will.  Websites may or may not be available.
    • Example: Events that happened yesterday or last week

If you have any uncertainties about the focus of your topic, discuss it with your instructor or a librarian.