Defining Your Research Topic

Crafting a well-defined topic is one of the most important parts of doing research.

Defining a topic can be a multi-step process. You need to:

  • Think about what drew you to the topic in the first place: what areas interest you the most?
  • Do some basic research both for background information and to find out what's already been written on your topic
  • Focus, focus, focus: be sure you have a manageable amount to cover within the time and space requirements of your assignment

You'll further refine your topic as you delve deeper into the research. If you jump into doing research without a well-defined topic, however, you'll eventually find yourself right back here trying to pick a topic later in the process... and you'll have wasted a lot of time! To ensure a good start, in this section, you'll first learn how to create a workable research question. Next, you'll see how to turn that question into the search terms you'll use in your research.