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HSS 205 - History of Technology

3. Narrow Your Topic

Narrow SignOnce you've done some initial background reading, it's time to narrow down your topic to what you really want to write about.  Remember your assignment requirements and consider what you've read thus far.

Ask yourself:

What aspect of the topic do I want to focus on?

What interests me about the topic?

What do I want to write about?

As you start to narrow this down into a thesis, you'll want to continue to look for more sources. As you read, you might tweak or adjust your topic/thesis.  In order to help you find more related sources about your topic, you'll want to identify keywords to help you search.


As you think about what concepts you want to write about, think about what particular words might be found in a good article about that topic.  Unlike Google, our databases work best using a few words (not a sentence) connected by the words and or or. For instance, if you are writing about the invention of television and how it changed family life you might try the following:

television or t.v. and family

If you would like to search a short phrase, enclose the phrase in quotation marks. This lets the computer know to search for those terms together. For example:

television or t.v. and "family life"

It will be useful to use "history" as part of your search when doing research on the history of your technology; for example:

computers and history

Keywords work best by trial-and-error. Never do only one search. Some keywords will work better than others, and some keywords may lead you to different articles than you found in your first search.  Search the databases with the keywords you selected to find relevant articles. And remember to ask a librarian if you need assistance coming up with keywords or looking for sources