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Summer Bridge 2022: Asking - and Answering - Questions (Clipperton)

Narrow your Topic

Background encyclopedia sources, such as those in the first tab of this guide, as well as books, can be useful for gaining broad perspective on larger topics.  These sources also may include information on narrower sub-topics within the larger topic, which can help you to begin to find a direction to research.  

You can also think deeper about your topic by developing a "Topic + Question + Significance" sentence. This formula came from Kate Turabian's Student's Guide to Writing College Papers. Turabian notes that you can use it plan and test your question, but do not incorporate this sentence directly into your paper (p. 13):

TOPIC: I am working on the topic of __________,
QUESTION: because I want to find out __________,
SIGNIFICANCE: so that I can help others understand __________.

Turabian, Kate L. Student's Guide to Writing College Papers. 4th edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2010.

Remember: the shorter your final paper, the narrower your topic needs to be. Having trouble?  Here are a few other ways to think about this:

  • Which specific subset of the topic you can focus on? Specific demographic groups, people, places, times
  • Who What When Where Why How: Do any of these questions help you narrow down?
  • Is there something about this topic that is not already addressed in scholarship?
  • Is there a relationship you can explore:
    • cause/effect
    • compare/contrast
    • current/historical
    • group/individual
    • opinion/reason
    • problem/solution