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COM 113 Interpersonal Communication: Narrowing Your Topic

A step-by-step guide to choosing a topic, finding resources, and writing research papers in the proper citation format for COM 113.

Narrowing your Topic

As you research, you may find that your original topic is too broad or too narrow, meaning you will find way too much information or too little. The research process can be quite messy, and that's ok! North Carolina State University has a video which will explain the research process. Please click the link below to watch it. 

 

"Picking Your Topic IS Research"

Research Questions

As you're thinking about your topic, write down some questions. 

  • What is it you want to know about your topic? 
  • What aspects of your topic do you want to address specifically?
  • Do you have a question you want to answer?
  • Do you have a hypothesis you want to prove? 

Example: If you were interested in childhood obesity and technology, one way to articulate a research question would be: How does technology affect childhood obesity? 

Tips

When narrowing down the topic, you may need to be more specific about aspects of your question. If we wanted to narrow the topic childhood obesity and technology, we may need to specify what we want to examine.  All technology? Or a specific kind such as video games or social media? All children? Or a specific group?

Make sure that your topic fits the length of your paper or project. For example can you write a five page paper on all of climate change? No! It is far too big a topic for five pages. You will need to choose some subtopics within climate change to focus on. 

If you are finding too few results, it may not be the topic. You may need to choose different keywords, which we will discuss in Step 3.