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Intro to Library Research

Ultimately you want to develop a focused research topic. Having a focused topic results in a good paper or presentation.  Some factors to keep in mind when identifying a topic are:

  1. Making sure the requirements of your assignment are fulfilled.
  2. Choosing a topic that is researchable, meaning others have written about it, and there is enough information to write in detail about your topic.
  3. If possible, choose something that is interesting to you.

“Focused” means that your topic is neither too broad nor too narrow.  If your topic is too broad, you will likely be dealing with too many ideas and too much information to effectively write about.  If your topic is too narrow, there may be little information available or what is available may address your topic in a shallow manner. 

Too Broad  Too Narrow  Just Right
How is climate change affecting the planet? How is climate change affecting gasoline consumption in Pittsburgh? Will regulation of fossil fuel consumption temper the negative impacts of climate change?
Why are violent crimes committed?   How often are violent crimes punished by the death penalty? Does the dealth penalty act as a deterrent to violent crime in America?
What were women's roles in World War II?  What percentage of women worked for the U.S government in World War II?   What role did American women play in espionage during World War II?

 

Similar to an outline, but visually different, a concept map allows you to explore and think about other ideas and concepts related to your general topic. 

Begin by writing down or drawing the most important word, phrase or symbol for the center of the map.  Then, branch out from the center to include related concepts and ideas.  

In the map below, Climate Change is the central concept.  Branching out are the more focused sub-topics of Human Factors, Evidence of, Impacts On, and Regulation. Further branches become more detailed. By creating this map, you could formulate a more focused question such as, Will the regulation of fossil fuel consumption positively affect climate change? 


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Jennie King Mellon Library | 0 Woodland Road | Pittsburgh, PA 15232 | 412-365-1670 | Maps & Directions | Site map
 

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