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Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Narrowing a Topic

Don’t you hate it when the prof says you can “write about anything”? So do I.

So maybe this will help:        

1. Begin with a Big Idea

2. Imagine many different questions.  What would these people ask about the Big Idea?

  • People from country X ?Developing a Research Question: start with a broad idea and narrow it by who, what, when, where, why?
  • People from the 18th, 19th…Century ?
  • Doctors, lawyers, sociologists, teachers… ?
  • Latinos, women, the aged, teenagers, or other special populations ?
  • Communists, Marxists, Catholics, Jews… ?

3. Presearch a few of the most interesting questions. Look them up in Google, and Wikipedia and see what general data you can uncover. Try an easy search in Articles Plus.

4. Narrow the possibilities according to

  •    What fits the assignment
  •    Which topics are researchable / how hard is it to find information
  •    What is INTERESTING.  Don't bore your audience or yourself!
  •    What flares your passion for inquiry

5. Now, you probably have a topic!

Where Do I Get One Of Those Big Ideas?

Here are some places to go browsing for starter ideas:

Another way into subtopics: Visuwords creates a mindmap of related terms related to the one you type in. 

Some Places to Start Looking for More Information on Your Topic.

Logo for CQ ResearcherCQ Researcher

  • Original reports and analysis on issues in the news.
  • Each report includes:  overview,  pro-con debates;  background and chronology; the current situation; tables and maps; and bibliographies