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College Research

Learn the methods and tools for conducting college level research.

Is it a Research-able Topic?

Make sure your topic is research-able.

This means that you are able to find enough reliable information about your topic. You might have a good research topic, but you still can't find enough evidence. This might be because scholars have not investigated that topic, or because our library does not have those resources.

If you can't find enough reliable information about your topic

  • Make sure your research topic isn't too narrow
  • Ask a librarian for help searching for research
  • Choose a different topic

Resources

The earliest part of your research can be frustrating because you're still learning about your topic. You're not exactly sure where to start your search or what to focus on. Doing a little background reading in the beginning will help you focus your research.

These resources can help you with that.

Not Too Broad - Not Too Narrow

Avoid picking a research topic that is too broad or too narrow.

If your topic is too narrow, you won't be able to find enough information about your topic. If your topic is too broad, you can get overwhelmed by the amount of information you'll find. A broad research topic can also result in using information sources that don't really have a lot to do with each other.

To help narrow down your topic, ask the following questions:

  • Who - Are there specific groups of people you want to focus on?
  • What - Can you focus on one part or aspect of the topic?
  • Where - Does your topic take place in a specific place?
  • When - When did the events you want to focus on occur?
  • Why - Is there a cause and effect relationship?

Your research topic will probably not address every one of these questions - just try to ask some of them.


Example 1:

Too broad: climate change

Still a little broad: methods of fighting climate change

Good: carbon capture

Also very good: non-mechanical carbon capture

Possibly too narrow: carbon capture in wetlands

Too narrow: carbon capture in Louisiana wetlands

 

Example 2:

Too broad: fishing

Still a little broad: effects of invasive species on fishing

Good: effects of invasive species on freshwater fishing

Possibly too narrow: effects of invasive species on freshwater fishing in the South Eastern region of the United States

Too narrow: effect of invasive species on fishing in Calcasieu Parish