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Focusing a Research Topic Prepared by Nora Khaled.

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1 Focusing a Research Topic Prepared by Nora Khaled

2 What is it? Focusing a research topic is narrowing or broadening a topic to demonstrate a good understanding of it, including enough examples and important details, within the size limits of the required project to be produced.

3 Why should I do it? This is the #1 biggest trap in the research process. If the topic is too big, you will not only have trouble selecting what to include from a huge selection of material available but may also omit some critical information. If, on the other hand, a topic is too narrow, not enough information will be found to write about and end material will be repeated.

4 How do I do it? There are different ways to focus your topic. Whichever method is chosen (or a combination of them) try to pick something that interests you in some way. Even if the overall subject doesn't seem interesting, try putting an interesting angle on it.

5 Other Different Methods to Help Focus Your Topic

6 The Encyclopedia Method Look up your topic in a general encyclopedia. In this method, an encyclopedia article provides the information needed to focus your topic. If you are unable to find information about your chosen topic in a general encyclopedia, then you may have to either broaden the topic, change it, or get some help finding another overview source

7 The Encyclopedia Method If an article about your topic is found but is very short (less than a column) you may have to either broaden it or combine it with another topic. If the encyclopedia article is more than 5 pages long you will most certainly need to focus the topic more.

8 The Encyclopedia Method Most good encyclopedias have helpful headings and sub-headings to organize the information within their longer articles. Use these headings to help focus the topic by picking one that looks interesting. Read the entire article for an overview of the complete subject Also use the 'related articles' section at the end of the article to help direct you to more useful information about the topic.

9 The Subtopic Method This method allows you to focus your topic based on a certain general subtopic word The topic can be focused by choosing one or more than one subtopic. For example: Topic of World War II is too big and needs to be focused more. Some subtopics to look at are: chronological, geographical, biographical, event-based and technological.

10 The Subtopic Method Still using WWII as an example, it lasted from 1939 to In those 6 years much took place to change the lives of millions of people and to redefine the boundaries of many countries. You could pick a particularly crucial year, month, week, or even a day.

11 Focusing Geographically The Subtopic Method: Focusing Geographically World War II affected almost every country in the world, even if fighting did not take place there. So the focus could be on one geographical region, such as Europe or Asia where most of the actual fighting took place, or one country such as India and how, as a British Colony, it was affected.

12 Focusing Biographically The Subtopic Method: Focusing Biographically You may choose to look at the war through the focus of a particular person, or group of persons. How about the mother of an American soldier, a German prisoner of war, an American nurse in a South Pacific naval base, an prisoner in a Japanese-American internment camp, or a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp?

13 Focusing on an Event The Subtopic Method: Focusing on an Event You may want to look in depth at a particular event. The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Battle of the Bulge or the signing of a particular peace treaty are some examples. If you use this focus, you will want to look at the cause of the event and the effect it had, in addition to the event itself.

14 The Subtopic Method: Focusing Technologically If you are interested in science, you may want to choose this criterion. For World War II the focus could be on a particular vehicle like German U-boats, submarines, B-52 bombers or even the atomic bomb.

15 Writing a Statement of Purpose A Statement of Purpose is a sentence that states what you want to learn in your research project. Writing a statement of purpose will do 4 things to help you: 1.The project becomes more interesting. 2.It will keep you from getting overwhelmed and panic-struck at all the information you may find. 3.It will assist in the development of a thesis statement, later on in the research process. 4.Valuable time and effort is saved.

16 Writing a Statement of Purpose After the topic is focused, write a sentence that states what you want to learn. Don't worry if you're not totally sure at this time as your Statement of Purpose may change 3 or 4 times before the research process is completed. To write the sentence, first answer these questions for yourself as best as you can

17 Writing a Statement of Purpose To write the sentence, first answer these questions for yourself as best as you can 1.What is my personal interest in the topic? 2.What do I specifically want to learn about my topic?

18 Writing a Statement of Purpose For Example: I want to learn about what is being done by our government to stop air pollution. This Statement of Purpose will lead to a Thesis Statement in which one will be able to make an assertion (a statement one can defend) and support it with the evidence gathered in the research process. This Statement of Purpose will lead to a Thesis Statement in which one will be able to make an assertion (a statement one can defend) and support it with the evidence gathered in the research process.

19 Writing a Statement of Purpose Make sure your Statement of Purpose is specific enough A Bit Too General 1."I want to learn about 50 cent." 2."I want to learn about AIDS." 3."I want to know about pro basketball." 4."I want to learn about the Crusades." More Specific 1."I want to learn about what has influenced the music of 50 cent." 2."I want to know how close we are to a cure for AIDS." 3."I want to know what it takes to be a professional basketball player." 4."I want to know why Christians and Muslims fought so hard with each other during the middle ages."


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