Narrowing a Topic
Watch a short video on narrowing your topic produced by the University of Victoria Libraries.
Narrowing a Topic
If you like dragons, try picking your favourite kind or species. Are they going to be Chinese? Fire- breathers? Kites? What kind of activities, qualities or myths of that particular dragon do you want to explore?
While dragons are still your general subject, a narrowed topic would be “fire-breathing dragons”. And a really specific, workable topic is “problems in fighting the medieval fire-breathing dragon”. You’ve narrowed it down to one aspect of one type of dragon in one time-period.
Get an overview of your topic by looking at encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases and other reference materials.
Find out who the experts are and what kinds of concepts and vocabulary they use. What kind of research questions would you ask them?
Locate some facts, statistics and bibliographies on this material.
Start with a little brainstorming. Jot some ideas down on a piece of paper and see what happens.
Talk about it with your classmates, friends, instructors and a librarian.
Browse the library. When you find one book, head to the shelves and actually look at other titles in that section. You never know what you might find.
Make sure you really understand the expectations on this project and then keep it interesting. Pick something that you like.
Don’t let yourself get bogged down with uncertainty. Remember, you’re doing this project because you don’t know enough about it, not because you’re an expert – at least not yet. And since even though you like dragons, there’s still something you don’t know about them, find out what that thing is and then answer it with your project.
University of Victoria Libraries (Producers). (2012). Narrowing a Topic [Video File]. Victoria, BC.