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Choosing a Research Topic

Do you have a research assignment coming up that you need to choose a topic for? This guide will walk you through how to choose a topic for your assignment!

Narrow Your Topic

Once you have completed your background research, you will want to start narrowing down your topic a little further. You probably learned a ton of new information about your topic when you were doing your background research, but you cannot write about everything. You need to focus your ideas into one clear, concise research question.

The good news for you is that you already started subconsciously doing this before you began your background research, when you were brainstorming ideas in your concept map. Now that you have done your background research, you're ready to narrow down your topic further and develop a research question and a thesis statement.

What is the difference between a research question and a thesis statement?

The reason that we do research in the first place is to answer a question.

Your research question is the question that you answer while you complete your assignment. Think of your research question as your topic, but in question form.

Research Topic: Cost of college tuition.

Example: How does student loan debt affect students below the poverty line?

Your thesis statement is the answer to your research question. You will spend your whole paper working to prove your thesis statement.

Example: Student loan debt affects students below the poverty line by further hindering their ability to purchase a home, have a family, and pay off their debt.

What makes a good thesis statement?

As you narrow down your topic and develop your thesis, keep in mind, a thesis statement should:

  • Clearly answer your research question. Your thesis statement is the answer to that question.
  • Outline the position you will take in your paper. Your reader should know exactly what point you are making in your paper.
  • Show how you will support your position. Your reader should know exactly how you will support your position.
  • Have multiple sides to the issue. Your thesis should not be a common fact or something that can be answered with a "yes" or "no."
  • Be flexible. It is common and normal if your thesis statement ends up changing during the research process. As you learn more, your position may change. 

The below video from Scribbr gives a great overview of how to write a strong thesis statement for an argument essay.