Narrowing a topic requires you to be more specific about your research interest and can help you to develop a thesis.
Questions to Narrow Your Topic
What is a Thesis Statement?
A thesis is typically a one sentence statement in the first paragraph, or beginning, of your project that states your purpose. Thesis statements should be arguable, specific, detailed, and meaningful.
Step 1: Understand your topic
Summarize your research topic in one sentence, or write it as a question. Highlight key words or phrases in it.
For-profit prisons increase incarceration rates, which in turn harm families and communities.
Step 2: Think about related topics
List any additional keywords or phrases you can imagine. (These plus the ones in Step 1 are your “search terms.”)
Incarcerate, prisoner, offender
Private Prisons, Privatization, Profit, commercialization, resources, taxpayer
Children, spouses, parents
Community, employment, offender re-entry
Step 3: Brainstorm search terms
|CONCEPT 1||CONCEPT 2|
Family Members (parents of, children of, partner of)
African American Men
Discrimination in sentencing
Removal from Community
Forms of Punishment
Financial Incentive to incarcerate
Step 4: Construct a search statement
Link the search terms using the Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT)
AND – narrows a search OR – broadens a search NOT – Excludes Term
Use quotation marks to keep phrases together. e.g. “global warming”.
Rehab* programs AND (Privat* Prisons OR Non-Profit Prisons)
"Discrimination in Sentencing" AND Incarcerat*