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Developing Research Questions & Narrowing Research Topics




Remember the story of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears"? Goldilocks searched the bears' house looking for the chair, porridge, and bed that was "Juuust right." Well, think of Goldilocks when you are formulating your research topic: you want to create the perfect one, the one that is "Juuust right."


Now you know how to transform a broad idea to a specific one that can be discussed within a set page limit. Remember the pyramid: your topic should get narrower with each question that you ask. If the topic is getting bigger, there may be a problem.


Use this activity to narrow the topic of “sports” to a topic that can be discussed in a 2-3 page paper to make it “juuust right.”


Think you have the hang of this? Test yourself with the following practice questions. There are five questions.

You might want to complete a Library Quick Search if you are unsure about how broad or narrow the topic is.


The more work that you do to get to a "Goldilocks research topic," the better equipped you will be for your research journey. Remember, it took Goldilocks a couple of tries before she found the porridge that was "Juuust right" and it might take you a couple of tries before you find which topic will be just right for you too!


Want some more help? These tutorials provide some different approaches to getting your topic juuust right.


Reynolds Community College Libraries - Refine a Topic

University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries - Topic Narrowing

Penn State University Libraries - Choosing a Topic

Virginia Tech University Libraries - Strategies for Narrowing a Topic

Designed and developed by UTSA Libraries Learning Technology Department at John Peace Library, University of Texas at San Antonio, 2019.