Answered By: Allison Ball
Last Updated: Apr 25, 2024     Views: 89705

Once you have chosen a research topic, you will need to narrow it down into a research statement or question. The sooner you do this in your research process, the more time you'll save because you can conduct more focused searches.

Below are some common ways you can narrow down a research topic, or get started by using our Brainstorming Topics & Search Terms tutorial

By demographic characteristics 

Narrow it down by age group, occupation, ethnic group, gender, etc.  

e.g. challenges faced by international college graduates entering the workforce

By relevant issues

Try to identify key issues related to your topic, especially ones that you have an opinion on. You can turn your opinion into your thesis statement or research question.

e.g. challenges faced by college graduates who are unable to find work related to their degrees

By location 

Focus on a specific country, province, city, or type of environment (rural vs. urban). 

e.g. challenges faced by college graduates entering the workforce in rural Ontario

By timeframe 

Decide whether you want to study recent events or a historical time period. This will also help you decide how current the information you use must be.

e.g. challenges faced by college graduates entering the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic

By causes

You can take the perspective of looking for causes of an issue you are researching.

e.g. Do employers hire fewer recent college graduates?

For more ideas, see Narrowing the Scope on our Brainstorming Guide.

When developing a research question, think about: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. Also consider what information you need in order to prove your thesis and try some test searches on the library website to ensure you can find enough relevant research to back up your ideas before you settle on your final topic.


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