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COLL C103 Music Changes the World

Selecting and Narrowing a Topic

You may not know right away what your research question is - that's okay! Start out with a broad topic, then conduct some background research to explore possibilities and narrow your topic to something more manageable.    

  • Make it interesting. If you’re interested in your topic, others probably will be too! And your research will be a lot more fun. Once you have a general topic of interest, you can begin to explore more focused areas within that broad topic. 
  • Gather background information. Do a few quick searches in OneSearch@IU or in other relevant sources. See what other researchers have already written to help narrow your focus. 
    • What subtopics relate to the broader topic? 
    • What questions do these sources raise?
    • What piques your interest? What might you like to say about the topic? 
  • Consider your audience. Who would be interested in this issue? For whom are you writing? 

Adapted from: George Mason University Writing Center. (2008). How to write a research question. Retrieved from 

Encyclopedias for Background Information