This guide will give you a brief overview of the different steps in the research process.
For some assignments, you may need to select a research topic. Sometimes your instructor will give you a list to choose from and other times you will get to decide on your own topic.
When you are choosing a topic, you want make that your topic is not too broad or too narrow for your assignment, so you might need to do a little background research in one of the library's databases before you can decide if a topic is too broad or too narrow. You don't want a topic that is so broad that you'll never be able to fit the information into your project requirements, or a topic that is so narrow that there are no sources about it.
The number of search results may give you a clue as to whether your topic is too broad or too narrow.
Number of Results
Too Broad or Too Narrow?
Global Warming Impact on Spartanburg Community College
Polar Ice Caps Melting
Another way to think about it is if a topic sounds like it could have a whole book written about it, like Global Warming, it is probably too broad. However, if a topic sounds like it would just be a chapter in a whole book, like the polar ice caps melting in a book about Global Warming, then it is probably more narrow.
Tips for Choosing a Topic
How do you choose a topic for research? Here are a few tips to try:
Choose a topic you are interested in or want to learn more about.
When you are doing background research, what makes you say "Why?" or "How?"
Look for gaps in information about a topic or conflicting issues on a topic.