Focusing Your Topic

While you are gaining background information, consider how you might focus your topic. Restate your topic more concisely based on information you have gathered. Stating your topic as a question is often helpful. For example, our sample topic so far is pretty general: I want to write about endangered species. After generating some questions about the topic and doing some background reading in encyclopedias, these discoveries were made:

Where to Start Looking for Background Information

You can find background information and explore your topic in the types of sources described below. You can also talk to your instructor or other "experts" on or off campus for suggestions. Be sure to ask the Reference Librarians in the library (at the Reference Desk) if you want help finding these types of materials.

What Will You Research and Write About?

Often your instructor will assign a topic, but if not, you can get ideas for interesting topics from many sources such as:

Working with your topic

Purpose of this lesson:

  • Generate some questions to begin to focus a topic
  • Identify some resources to help find a topic for a paper or project
  • Identify some resources for finding background information about a topic
  • Work with your topic to:
    • -Break your topic down into its component concepts
    • -Generate a list of synonyms for each concept

Exploring your topic

The first step in research is to explore your topic to find areas of the conversation you are particularly interested in and to learn enough about the issues and problems to begin to form your own opinions. In this section we will introduce you to strategies for exploring your topic.  Use the links below to continue learning more.

The three parts of researching

The goal of this tutorial is to help you learn more about finding the evidence you need to hold up your end of a "scholarly conversation" in your field. The three sections build upon one another and are presented in the same stages you will encounter as you do research

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