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Research 101: Refine a Topic

A guide to help you develop good research skills!


Is Your Topic Too Narrow?

If you do not find enough information, your topic may be too narrow. Consider broadening it, you can:

  • Explore related issues
  • Compare or contrast your topic with another topic
  • Expand the:
    • time period
    • population
    • geographic area
  • Choose a less recent topic, 
         that may be covered in books
         or journals
  • Choose a less popular topic
         that's not limited to popular
         magazines and tabloids

How to Refine Your Topic

Video posted with permission from NC State University's D. H. Hill Library


Example One

Broad Topic:
     Global warming

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


Example Two

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?


Is Your Topic Too Broad?

If you find too much information, your topic may be too broad. Consider narrowing it, with a:

  • Time period 
         1960's, Bronze Age, etc.
  • Geographic location
         Denver, NY, Australia, etc.
  • Population
         Age, Race, Gender, or Class
  • Genre 
         Jazz, Blues, or Classical
         (rather than music)
  • Event
    Battle of the Bulge
         (rather than WWII)
  • Aspect 
         Government Regulations
         (rather than pollution)
  • Discipline or Subject
         Music or Art
         (in early childhood education)

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