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  Narrowing Your Topic

            Many topics need to be narrowed; however, if your topic is already too narrow it can be broadened by reversing the procedure.

Steps toward narrowing your topic include:

            1.  Do preliminary reading to become familiar with many facets of the topic.

            2.  Decide on one aspect of your topic or one focus within your topic.




TIME SPAN:             Renaissance                                                      broad

                                    Queen Elizabeth

                                    Early reign of Queen

                                    Elizabeth, 1558-1570                                       narrow

:                      England                                                            broad


                                    Westminster Abbey                                          narrow


SUBJECT                   Psychology                                                      broad
                                    Behavioral psychology

                                    Skinnerian psychology                                      narrow

                  Minorities                                                         broad
                                    Minorities in America

                                    Native Americans

                                    Navajo                                                             narrow


SPECIFIC EVENT    French Revolution                                            broad
                                    Napoleonic Wars

                                    Campaigns against

                                    Prussia and Russia, 1806-07

                                    Battle at Eylan, 1807                                        narrow                        

                   Female Novelists                                             broad
                                    American Female Novelists

                                     American Female Novelists of the

                                    South during 1950s and 1960s

                                    E. Welty, C. McCullers,
                                    and K. A. Porter                                              narrow


 *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

                                        FORMULATING A RESEARCH QUESTION

            Some people prefer to formulate a research question.  To do that, consider some of the following approaches:

            CONTROVERSIES:   What are the arguments for or against capital punishment?

                                                  What are the arguments for and against for-profit hospitals?

            TRENDS:                    Is the trend toward mergers and corporate takeovers beneficial to
                                                  the economy?

                                                  Is the trend toward smaller families a response to economic conditions
                                                  or simply the result of later marriages?

            PROBLEMS:              What are some of the problems resulting from one- parent families?

                                                  What are some of the problems related to foreign aid?


            EFFECTS:                   What are the effects of television on the reading levels of children
                                                  6-8 years of age?

                                                  What are the effects of ozone depletion?


            INFLUENCES:           What are the influences of social direction on civil rights legisltation?

                                                 What influences on language has advertising had?


            CAUSES:                    What are some of the causes of mid-career crisis?

                                                 What are some of the cultural causes of obesity in American society?

                                                 MORE EXAMPLES

          Broad Topic                            pollution                                    women

          Restricted Topic                      acid rain                                    women in business

          Narrowed Topic                      acid rain in the U.S.                  successful female
                              .                                                                          executives in U.S. corporations
          Research Question                  What are the effects of              Do successful female executives
                                                         acid rain in the U.S.?                share common personality traits?

          Broad Topic                            dance                                       food

          Restricted Topic                      ballet                                        eating habits

          Narrowed topic                       The New York City                 vegetarianism
                                                         Ballet Company 

          Research Question                  What are the strengths of          What are the nutritional and
                                                         Balanchines choreography       health advantages of vegetarianism?
                                                         with the NYC ballet?