Develop Topic

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Learn to brainstorm a topic, then develop your topic into a research question.

Learn to brainstorm a topic, then develop your topic into a research question.

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  • 1. Develop Topic
  • 2. Learn to narrow your topic and create a research question.
  • 3. After analyzing your assignment begin to brainstorm a topic.
  • 4. There are many ways to brainstorm.
  • 5. Take notes, talk it out, go for a walk, make a chart or use post-its.
  • 6. The important thing is to be able to review and revisit your ideas.
  • 7. Your topic will continue to change, so be open to new ideas.
  • 8. Pay attention to what interests you most. Look for connections between ideas.
  • 9. A good topic is interesting to you, makes new connections and is just the right scope.
  • 10. A topic is a broad idea
  • 11. like sustainable agriculture
  • 12. while a research question is a question with no simple answer.
  • 13. A good research question will be arguable, clear, and concise, yet complex.
  • 14. Watch out for questions that could have a simple yes/no answer.
  • 15. If you are interested in the topic of sustainable agriculture, you need to narrow it down.
  • 16. What part of sustainable agriculture are you interested in?
  • 17. To answer this, often you need do some research.
  • 18. Your sources will discuss more narrow aspects of the topic.
  • 19. And potentially raise some questions for you.
  • 20. Narrow your topic
  • 21. Perhaps you decide to focus on compost and how it is used.
  • 22. This isn’t a bad start, but you could narrow it even more
  • 23. Perhaps you focus on one specific use of compost.
  • 24. Compost has several uses. You start to get interested in how it can be used for heat extraction.
  • 25. This topic is probably narrow enough now.
  • 26. Next, let’s turn this narrowed topic into a research question.
  • 27. Again, your research question should be open-ended and complex, yet also clear and focused.
  • 28. What about how compost is used for heat extraction interests you?
  • 29. You don’t want to simply write about how compost is used for heat extraction. There needs to be more of an issue.
  • 30. Your sources talk about the benefits of using compost for heat extraction. But farmers are still reluctant to adopt this practice. This gets you thinking.
  • 31. After more thinking and research you decide to ask:
  • 32. To what extent do the benefits of compost heat extraction outweigh the barriers for small farms?
  • 33. This question is focused enough and specific, but not so narrow that you only find a few sources.
  • 34. Now you have developed your topic into a research question.
  • 35. You already started some research to narrow your topic and to create a research question.
  • 36. Next you will look for sources that will really allow you to address your research question.
  • 37. Look for high-quality sources that present reliable, expert information.
  • 38. Be open to sources that have different perspectives than you and your favorite sources. This adds depth, complexity, and gives you something to counter.
  • 39. For some questions you may also bring in less credible sources as a way show and refute alternative perspectives.
  • 40. To great sources, use a variety of tools, like the library, OneSearch, databases, Google Scholar and other appropriate online tools.