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Developing Research Topics: Developing a Topic

How will you start researching?

Developing a Topic

Once you have a general topic, you can develop it by using a chart technique (see box at right). Using the chart technique will help to focus your topic.

Sometimes you have a general idea for a paper like "animal behavior" or "America in the 1920s" These topics are too broad; there is too much information. "

Developing a Topic...

You can immediately start using a chart to develop your topic, but usually it's worth scanning an encyclopedia or book to pick up keywords and important ideas, people, dates, etc. The more ideas you can put in the chart, the easier it will be to select a topic.

It's Your Turn to Brainstorm


Use a blank chart (created by Wilfrid Lauthier University Library, Waterloo, Ontario) to begin focusing your topic. The more ideas you can put in the chart, the easier it will be to select a topic.

Helpful Tips:

  • Don't worry whether the ideas you write down are good or correct or exactly where you put them on the chart. There is no right or wrong answer. Let your imagination go.
  • After filling out the chart, pick ideas from one or more of the columns and put them together. Usually you can come up with several approaches.

Usually topics evolve as the research shows you more aspects, but this technique should get you started.

How to Write a Good Research Question

Special thanks to Vija G. Mendelson, who created these awesome videos

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