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Information Skills - From Topic to Thesis

Try the //Topic - Question - Significance// Approach

1) Topic:  I am studying...
Inexperienced researchers may feel more comfortable with a broad topic, but it will actually make the research and the writing process more difficult!  Too much information is hard to organize and may prohibit you from providing real depth of the subject to your readers.
If your topic is just a single word, try adding some more details to be more specific.
Broad Topic
More Specific Topic
Sustainability
Solar power farms in Idaho
Benefits of Exercise
Emotional benefits of exercise for college students
2) Question: because I want to find out who/what/when/where/why/whether/how...
Applying specific questions to your topic is one of the best ways to stay focused as a researcher.  It will help you avoid collecting large amounts of pointless data that doesn't directly apply to your paper.  Think of how you can "measure" your topic.  What is interesting about it?  What types of documents do you need to find?  Specific questions will guide your research and simplify the task of creating a paper outline.
Topic: I am studying...
Question: because I want to find out...
Solar power farms in Idaho
How/if the industry is expanding in this state
Whether solar power has advantages compared to other energy sources
Who drives this industry and possible career opportunities
Where most farms are located and why those places were chosen over others
Emotional benefits of exercise for college students
Whether exercise could replace pharmaceutical drugs
How students cope with emotional stress
 
3) Significance: in order to help my reader understand how/why/whether...
This is the "so what" clincher of your writing experience.  Believe that you have something important to tell others and keep your readers in mind as you plan, research, write, and revise your work!
Topic: I am studying...
Question: because I want to find out...
Significance: in order to help my reader understand how/why/whether...
 
Solar power farms in Idaho
How/if the industry is expanding in this state
Whether solar power has advantages compared to other energy sources
Who drives this industry and possible career opportunities
Where most farms are located and why those places were chosen over others
whether solar power farms are a feasible sustainable energy source for our state.
Emotional benefits of exercise for college students
if exercise could replace pharmaceutical drugs
How students cope with emotional stress
 
how the body responds to emotional and physical stimulus.

Investing in a Strong Research Topic

College papers can be fun!  You are given the opportunity to pursue deep study of a subject that interests you.  Here are three strategies that may help you pick a topic.
  • Focus on Recent or Popular Issues
    • ​Look at newspapers, magazines, or news feeds to find cutting edge issues.
  • Find a Solution to an Important Practical Problem
    • Have you ever been frustrated and thought "I could do this better"?  Research a problem and suggest a solution.
  • Explore a Personal Experience in a Universal Context
    • Think back to a significant moment in your life.  Would this topic resonate with other people?