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How to Narrow a Research

Topic
How to Narrow a Research Topic

When your research topic is too


broad, ask yourself these questions:

Who?
What?
When?
Where?
Why?

2007, OSU Libraries, Instruction Office


How to Narrow a Research Topic

Lets see how this works with an


example: eating disorders

This topic is too broad (general) to write


about in a short paper. We need to
make it narrower (more specific).

2007, OSU Libraries, Instruction Office


How to Narrow a Research Topic

Who?

TOPIC: EATING DISORDERS

Populations

Age NEW TOPIC:


Eating disorders
Gender
in elderly females
Race or
Ethnicity

2007, OSU Libraries, Instruction Office


How to Narrow a Research Topic

What?

TOPIC: EATING DISORDERS

Types

Anorexia NEW TOPIC:


Anorexia in
Bulimia
elderly females
Compulsive
eating

2007, OSU Libraries, Instruction Office


How to Narrow a Research Topic

When?

TOPIC: EATING DISORDERS

Timeframes

Current or NEW TOPIC:


historical
view Bulimia in middle-
aged females
Period
of life

2007, OSU Libraries, Instruction Office


How to Narrow a Research Topic

Where?

TOPIC: EATING DISORDERS

Places

States NEW TOPIC:


Anorexia in
Regions
Australian women
Countries

2007, OSU Libraries, Instruction Office


How to Narrow a Research Topic

Why?

TOPIC: EATING DISORDERS

Evaluate

Causes NEW TOPIC:


Successful
Treatments
methods for
treatment of
Outcomes compulsive eating

2007, OSU Libraries, Instruction Office


How to Narrow a Research Topic

Mix n Match
Combine any number of elements that you derive from
asking these questions until you find an interesting topic
to research.

Some examples:

Causes and treatment of anorexia in college athletes

Prevalence of bulimia in teen-age males in the United States

Changes in treatment for compulsive overeaters, 1950-present.

2007, OSU Libraries, Instruction Office