Refining your Topic
Expanding a Topic that is Too Narrow
It is also possible to choose a topic that is too narrow, for which there may not be enough information published. Topics that are particularly difficult to research include:
- Local issues: There may not be scholarly research conducted on issues with a limited geographic impact. Coverage of the issue will be found mostly in local newspapers. Try to find an issue that has relevance to a wider audience or that has been discussed nationally.
- Current events: It takes months or even years for scholarly books and journal articles to be published about an event. Try to find an event that has been in the news for a longer period of time, or find ways to relate a current event to other issues that have been written about more extensively. See the Information Timeline for more specifics.
- Popular topics: Topics about popular musicians, actors, etc. appeal to a more general audience and are mostly covered in popular magazines and articles. Try to think about related issues or broader trends in these areas.
In each of these cases, it may be difficult to find scholarly sources about your topic. If your instructor has required that you use scholarly sources, these kinds of topics would probably need to be modified using the above strategies.
As you begin your research, you may find that you need to further narrow or broaden your topic based on the amount of information you find. If you are unsure about the focus of your topic, discuss it with your instructor or ask a librarian for help.