English 110 Library Tutorial

Developing a Research Topic

Developing a Research Topic

The hardest part of developing a good research paper is often settling upon a topic that is compelling, or about which you know very little.  Unlike in high school research, the burden is often on you to determine what questions you wish to explore, and it can be hard to strike a balance between exploring topics that are too complex to fully explore in a research paper, or too narrow in scope to explore appropriately.

broad to narrow You may start out knowing that you want to write about genetically modified organisms.  But searching just for GMOs will overwhelm you with information.  Some scholars devote their entire careers to studying this- so trying to tackle the entire subject in one, 10-page paper is probably taking on too much.

So, it pays to think about what aspects of the topic are most interesting to you.  Perhaps after reading a bit online, the implications of GMOs for human health is the aspect of this topic that is most compelling to you.

Finally, you get more specific.  What are the dangers of GMOs for people who have allergies, or how might allergies be exacerbated by these products?  You started too broad, but now you have a focus that will get you to great resources.

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