Choosing a topic can be the hardest part! Here are some tips:
Once you have a topic, write it down as a short sentence or question.
Your topic must be manageable and fit the scope, audience, length and time limits of your assignments. Sometimes this means that you will need to narrow your original idea. Consider:
Example (from St. Martin's handbook):
Emily, a student writer is interested in the effect of advertising on American identity. This topic is too broad for her assigment. So she posted on facebook, asking her friends to post their most "American" products. She chose from among their ideas (Coke and Pepsi). So she narrowed her focus to the effect of Coke and Pepsi ads on American identity.
You might find that your topic is so narrow that there is not a lot published about it. In this case you need to broaden.
There are several ways to do this:
For example, alcohol use by students at UGA in 1999 might be too narrow. Try expanding it to alcohol use by students at UGA, or even college students and alcohol use.
Before you dive into your research, pull out your concepts and identify some keywords for searching. This will help you focus your research, and will also help when you are searching GALILEO.
Unlike GOOGLE and other search engines, you can't type in an entire question or statement in a library database. Instead, you want to type in keywords.
Let's say your research question is: Can women really "have it all?"?
The concepts are:
and probably the emotional aspects of trying to do this all at once.
Some keywords might be:
1. Women OR mothers OR moms
2. family OR household OR husband OR children
3. work OR career OR business OR success
As you progress through your research project, keep adding new terms to your list as you find them. Subject headings and article abstracts are particularly good places to look.
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