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Prof. Allen; Eng. 101 FALL 2023: Getting Started / Using Keywords

Why Do Background Research?

​When you do background research you can find:

  • Words or phrases that are specific to your topic.
  • Information that answers basic information on your topic. 
  • Major ideas related to your topic.
  • People, places, time periods that are relevant to your topic.
  • Additional readings on your topic.

Questions to Ask Before Writing Your Essay / Narrowing Your Topic

Narrowing a topic requires you to be specific about your research interest and can help you to develop a thesis. Ask yourself "How can I make my question more specific?"

Think about whether your question accounts for the "people, places and things" at stake.

Who? Who is the specific person/group to which you would like to limit your research?

What? What specific aspect, theory or technique of the broad topic idea is interesting to you?

Where? To which specific geographic area or region would you like to limit your research?

When? On what time period would you like your research to be focused?

Why? Why is it important to study this topic?

Examples of Narrowing Your Topic

Broad topic:  mental illness

Narrowed topic:  mental illness and teenagers

Related topics:       depression        anxiety        eating disorders       self-harm

Research question:  What is the current prevalence of depression among teenagers in the United States?

Broad topic:  technology

Narrowed topic:  social media 

Related topics:   Facebook        TikTok           Instagram           X

Research question:  Has TikTok negatively affected young women's perception about body image?

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