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Research Scheduler

It takes time to research and write, so plan ahead!

When to start?

15-Week Semester: Weeks 1-2; 5-Week Summer/Winter Session: Week 1

Step 2: Pick a Topic & Focus It


"Topics" by Enokson, March 31, 2010. 

Choosing a topic that makes you curious, excited, or even angry will help you make a passionate and persuasive argument.

Remember to check the number of pages you need to write for your assignment. If your topic is too broad, try to focus it. If it is too narrow,  try to expand it, in order to find enough useful sources.

Need topic ideas? Read the following and click on the links below!

  cartoon lightbulb TIP! The more recent your topic, the fewer sources you will be able to find.

cartoon lightbulb TIP For more topic ideas and related search words, use the TOPIC FINDER in the Academic OneFile database (bottom left of the Academic OneFile homepage). 

Remember, students often revise or completely change their topics while doing research in order to write a thesis statement that will work well for an assignment. So, don't worry if you need to come back to this step again later!



Focus Your Broad Topic

Do you have a broad topic and are finding too much information on it?
     => Narrow your topic by using one or more limiters.

        BROAD TOPIC EXAMPLE: "Immigration"

Limiters and examples:
Timeframe:  1940s-1950s
Geographic region: California
Person or group: Braceros
Event or aspect: Living conditions

Example of focused research topic: "Poor living conditions for Braceros did not improve over the 10-year period during which they worked in California, from the 1940s to the 1950s."

NOTE: Braceros were Mexicans who contracted to work in the U.S. temporarily as farm laborers, under the U.S./Mexican Bracero Program,  instituted in 1942, and ended in 1964. There were about 4.6 million Braceros during that time period, and they worked under pretty harsh contracts.

Broaden Your Narrow Topic

Do you have a narrow topic and cannot find enough information on it?
     => Broaden your topic by highlighting the key words and trying broader words or concepts.

NARROW TOPIC EXAMPLE: "Hispanic women 85 and older in L.A. need protection from abuse in nursing homes."
    Key Words (in bold): "Hispanic women 85 and older in L.A. need protection from abuse in nursing homes."

Broader words/concepts:  
Hispanic women => Latin*, Chican*  
85 and older => Senior citizen*, elderly
 L.A. => Los Angeles, California
 abuse => neglect, violen*
nursing homes => long term care

What does the asterisk (*) mean above?
      It is a "wild card" or truncation symbol, a powerful way to expand your search in many databases.
         ExampleLatin* will look for LatinLatino, LatinosLatinas