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Refining a Topic: Home

Acknowledgement

These "step" pages have been adapted from that of Johnson & Wales University Library (Denver Campus) as well as from the Research & Learning Services Department of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.  Stafford Library has received permission to use and adapt these pages.

Refining a Topic

Is Your Topic Too Narrow?

If you are not finding enough information, your topic may be too narrow. Consider broadening it by:

  • Exploring related issues
  • Comparing or contrasting the topic with another topic
  • Expanding the:
    • time period covered
    • population considered
    • geographic area discussed
  • Choosing an alternative topic that is not so recent -- it may not be covered in books and journal articles yet
  • Choosing an alternative topic that is not so popular -- it may be covered in popular magazines and tabloids only

Is Your Topic Too Broad?

If you are finding too much information, your topic may be too broad. Consider narrowing it by:

  • Time period -- 1960's, bronze age, etc.
  • Geographic location -- Denver, New York, Australia, etc.
  • Population -- age, race, gender, nationality or other group
  • Smaller piece of the topic:

    • Genre -- jazz (music)
    • Event -- Battle of the Bulge (WWII)
    • Aspect -- government regulations (pollution)
    • Discipline or Subject -- music (in early childhood education)

Contact

Phone: (573) 875-7381 or (800) 231-2391, ext. 7381
Live chat: Click to open chat
Text: (573) 535-5449

Examples

Narrow Topic: Does cartoon viewing cause violent behaviors in children under the age of five?

Broader Topic:  What are the negative effects of television viewing on children and adolescents?

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Broad Topic: Global warming

Narrower Topic: How will climate change impact sea levels and the coastal United States?