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You can save yourself hours of frustration by taking the time to develop and focus your topic.
The Academic Skills Centre at Trent University has a tutorial on how to select and narrow a topic or analyze an assigned topic.
Selecting a topic
- If permitted, choose a topic that interests you.
- Brainstorm ideas. Try creating a concept map to develop a topic.
- Discuss ideas with your classmates, TAs or professors.
- Look in newspapers and subject relevant journals for ideas.
- Do some background reading in general or subject specific encyclopedias or other reference books to get an overview of a topic.
- Don't forget to take notes and record information about interesting resources you find while exploring a topic.
- Be sure the topic meets the requirements of the assignment.
Narrowing a topic
- Think about specific aspects that interest you.
- Consider different viewpoints.
- Think about specific time periods, population groups (e.g. gender, age, culture), and geographic areas.
- Think about Who, What, When, Where and Why?
Start early to determine if the scope of a topic is manageable in the time you have to complete your assignment and so that you know if there are available resources on the topic.