Develop Topic


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

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Develop Topic

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