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  • Narrow Your Topic

    How to Narrow Your Topic

    If your topic is too broad or vague, you will find too much information and will need to narrow the focus.

    Example: “I'm thinking of doing a paper on technology."

    You can write a multi-volume work on technology. How can this be turned into a more manageable topic?

    Define the topic by asking these questions:

    • When you think of this topic, what do you picture - the Internet, computer design software, automobiles, pre-historic tools, washing machines? All of these inventions are parts or facets of the greater topic – technology.
    • What do you know about technology? What don't you know?
    • What aspects of your topic interest you: historical, sociological, psychological, mechanical, etc.?
    • What time period do you want to cover?
    • On what geographic region do you want to focus?
    • What kind of information do you need:
      • a brief summary or a lengthy explanation?
      • periodical articles, books, essays, encyclopedia articles?
      • statistics?

    Sample Topic Narrowing Chart: 

    General topic:


    Facets of topic:

    automobiles, cellular telephones, wireless technology, text messaging, social networking, GPS systems


    legal; psychological, social

    Time span:

    1990s; current


    United States; urban; rural; China

    Narrowed Research Question:

    Should cell phone use be banned while driving?

    Taken from UCLA Library