What is it?
Focusing a research topic is narrowing (orsometimes broadening) a topic so that you can demonstrate a good understandingof it, including enough examples and important details, within the size limitsof the project you are required to produce. You need to satisfy bothyourself and your teacher that you know what you are talking about. Ifyour teacher gives you no limits, make them for yourself. You don't want tospend your life on this, at least not right now.
Why should I do it?
This is the #1 biggest pitfall in theresearch process. If you pick a topic that is too big, you will not only havetrouble selecting what to include from a huge selection of material available,you will probably leave out some critical information that will make itapparent (especially to your teacher) that you don't really know what you aretalking about.
If, on the other hand, you pick a topicthat is too narrow, you won't find enough to write about and end up repeatingyourself to fill 6 pages (which doesn't go over very well with teacherseither, by the way).
The process of focusing a topic takespractice, so be patient with yourself. It is challenging when you don't knowtoo much about a topic. It will get easier as your knowledge base increases. Rememberthat the research process is a recursive onewhich means that you may need to revisit your topic choice more than once ifyou find it doesn't work out. Luckily there are some strategiesand methods to help you through this critically important part of theprocess. Read on!
How do I do it?
There are different ways to focus yourtopic. In the Related Links at the bottom of the page you can clickon some different methods. Whichever method you choose (and you maydo a combination of them) try to pick something that interests you in some way.Even if the overall subject doesn't seem interesting, you can pick aninteresting angle on it.
Choose five prompts from the listbelow and write a sample thesis statement:
Say you have to do a research project about World War II, and youdon't know a thing about it, nor are you at all interested in it. Try to find asubtopic that connects to your interests.
Ifyou like cars, try comparing the land vehicles used by the Germans and theAmericans.
If you likefashion, look at women's fashions during the war and how they were influencedby military uniforms and the shortage of certain materials.
If you likeanimals, look at the use of dogs by the US Armed Forces.
If you likepuzzles and brain teasers, look at the fascinating topic of decoding secretmessages.
If you like music,find out what types of music American teenagers were listening to during thewar years.
If you are apacifist, find out what the anti-war movement was like during the war in anycountry.
Find out whatwas happening during the war on your birth date.
Find out if anyof your relatives fought in the war and research that time and place.