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From research topic to the research


Defining your topic

Choose an overarching topic that you think you
are fairly familiar with
Locate the topic (the content and focus what
subject you will be writing about and any specific
treatment or angle you want to take)

Try to tell your neighbour something interesting
about the subject of your expertise

From topic to question

From topic to question: narrowing it down
Vague topic: The language of women magazines
Still a topic: The influence of English on womens
magazines in Romania
Overarching question: Are Romanian women
magazines influenced by English?
Focused question: In what ways does English
influence the language of three types of Romanian
women magazines?

Your question
Try to develop your question by following the
pattern presented previously:
Vague topic:
Still a topic:
Overarching question :
Focused question:

Generating Ideas
A useful question to ask before choosing a topic:
What do I know about the overarching topic, and
what else do I need to know?

Some useful techniques for narrowing down the


Asking the journalists questions (who, what,
where, when, why, why not, how)

An example: cubing
It involves looking at an idea/concept from
six different points of view

Describe it (what do you see?)

Compare it (what is it similar to?)
Analyse it (what are its parts?)
Associate it (what does it remind you of?)
Apply it (what can you do with it?)
Argue for and against it (give any reasons,
even crazy ones)

Think of the topic of your dissertation and then
cube it by using the previous angles.