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Freshmen Odyssey Research Project: Topic Selection

The Beginning Cycle

Think critically about your topic.   Consider carefully as you need to live with it for a long time.  It’s O.K. to explore and fumble around a bit.  It's a “beginning cycle” because these steps are not usually linear.   As you review background information, it will cause you to accept or reject ideas.  These changes will alter the research question that you develop. Along the way, take notes that you can use, taking note of keywords and facts.

Picking a Topic of Interest

Answer the following questions: 

  • What do I already know about this subject?
  • What about my background or interests can I bring to this subject?
  • What do I want to learn more about in relation to this subject?

If you're stuck for ideas, ask a teacher, talk to a parent or a friend, use your textbook, browse your library, or go online.  Remember, during this stage, you are only coming up with ideas, but take note if you will use the information you find later

How to Choose a Topic, Broaden, or Narrow a Topic


If your topic is TOO BROAD, you will find too much information.  It will be difficult to sort through it all.  Your paper will be vague and lack focus. Narrow your topic by applying your own interest to the topic, focus on one aspect of the topic (geography, time period, a famous person, psychology, looking at one event, the impact of technology) or a combination of these.

Examples for Narrowing Your Topic:

If your topic is TOO NARROW, you won't find enough information.  Search online or in the library catalog.  The latter is important if you need a book source as a requirement.  Check your assignment sheet.  Students who choose topics such as a new athlete or an unusual musical group will have a topic that's too narrow. 

Chart from the Golden Gate University Business Library

Subject Guide

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Jennifer Jourdain
Montachusett Regional Voc Tech School
1050 Westminster Street
Fitchburg, MA 01420
(978) 345-9200 x5125