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Choosing A Topic : 3. Refine Your Topic

LibraryLearn Video: How to Narrow Your Topic

The following three strategies might be helpful to focus your thoughts and research progress into the shape of your academic assignment. 

Strategy 1: The Detective
Open-ended Questions to contextualize 

who what when why how where question mark

Who is involved?

Why did this happen?

Why is it important?

Where Does a more specific location make your topic more interesting? (aka history of the Black Panthers in Baltimore)

When Is there a particular moment or block of time that is most interesting to you?

Strategy 2: The Visionary
Close your eyes - what do you picture?

picture of people taking picturesin front of historic building

-Image credit: flickr user francois karm

What do you know about it already? What's missing?

What's the most interesting part of the picture? The people, the objects, the building, etc.?

Is this picture historical or current? What time period?

Do you picture a specific geographic region?

What kind of information do you need to fill out the picture? (e.g., a brief summary or a lengthy explanation,  articles or books; statistics or interviews)

Strategy 3: The Explorer
Find relationships by connecting ideas

Write down as many related ideas as you can think of in a mind map.

Link up as many as you can.

Find the story line you want to explore.





Make a mind map online