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SOAD F340 History of Fashion

IUCAT Search

IUCAT is the IUB Libraries catalog. Find books, journals, music, and more!

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Selecting and Narrowing a Topic

When starting out on your research, it is important to choose a research topic that is not only of interest to you, but can also be covered effectively in the space that you have available. 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.    

Choose an interesting general topic. 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