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Monmouth College Hewes Library

1e. Refine a Topic

Is Your Topic Too Narrow?

If you are not finding enough information, your topic may be too narrow. Consider broadening it by:

  • Exploring related issues
  • Compare or contrast the topic with another topic
  • Consider:
    • Time period 
    • Population 
    • Geographic location 
  • Recent topics or current events may be difficult to research with much depth because the topic may not be covered in books and journal articles yet. Choose an alternative topic that is related, but not so recent.

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Is Your Topic Too Broad?

If you are finding too much information, your topic may be too broad. Consider narrowing it by:

  • Time period -- 1960's, bronze age, etc.
  • Geographic location -- Denver, New York, Australia, etc.
  • Population -- age, race, gender, nationality or other group
  • Smaller piece of the topic:

    • Genre -- jazz (music)
    • Event -- Battle of the Bulge (WWII)
    • Aspect -- government regulations (pollution)
    • Discipline or Subject -- music (in early childhood education)
    • Ask yourself: Who are the stakeholders in this topic? (government, environment, a culture?) Focus on ONE or TWO.


Broad Topic: Global warming

Narrower Topic: How will climate change impact sea levels and the coastal United States?


Narrow Topic: Does cartoon viewing cause violent behaviors in children under the age of five?

Broader Topic:  What are the negative effects of television viewing on children and adolescents?

Hewes Library at Monmouth College | 700 East Broadway, Monmouth, IL 61462 | Phone: 309-457-2190 | Fax: 309-457-2226 | |