ASSIGNMENT: Refining Your Research Topic, Part 2: Narrowing Your Focus

I’m stuck on a English question and need an explanation.

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One of the most common problems with research topics is that they are too big. For example, “online surveillance” is an extremely broad topic. For one thing, it can be divided into two categories: government surveillance and corporate surveillance. Beyond that, even these categories are large enough in scope to write entire books about (there are some good ones I can recommend if you are interested!). You need to choose a topic that is narrow enough that: 1. You can write thoroughly about it in an 8 page paper, and 2. You aren’t just rehashing what someone else has already said. Consider, for example, the following topic: the dangers of online medical databases. This topic does deal with online data gathering, but it focuses on an industry (healthcare), and it proposes a particular danger.

To complete this assignment, answer the following questions in the text box below:

  1. What are at least two ways that I can modify my topic to make it more focused? Does any of these make for a better topic?
  1. Does this topic affect a specific group of people, or does it affect “everyone?” If it affects everyone, try to revise it again so that it focuses on a particular group, i.e. low-income people, rural Americans, people of color, immigrants, wealthy people, residents of a particular city, the middle class, children, etc.

Finally, give some final thoughts (just a sentence or two) about how this activity helped revise, refine, or narrow your topic.

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