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Research Orientation: Start Your Research Here

Some definitions, tips, and suggestions to help you get oriented to Library research.

Topic Size Counts!

Too Broad or Too Narrow?

Choosing a topic is much harder than many students realize. Most students - new and old - choose a topic that is too large (broad) for the scope of the assignment. 

If you’re topic is too broad, you will be overwhelmed with sources.  If your topic is too narrow, you might not find anything.

Doing background research can help you:

  • identify appropriate sized topic would be
  • narrow large subjects into manageable topics
drug addiction Too broad
effect of safe injection on AIDS rates in North Vancouver  Too narrow
beneficial effects of safe injection in Vancouver  Looks promising

Your Evolving Topic

For the initial stages of your assignment, it's OK to have a general topic idea as long as you’re flexible and curious.

Don't be a fickle researcher! Just because you find too much or too little information when you start searching, doesn't mean you have to switch to a completely new topic. Let your discoveries guide you to a topic that can work for you, not against you.

  1. Choose a topic
  2. Do initial research
  3. Adapt your topic to your research

Remember to use your list of synonyms and keep an eye out for new keywords as you search.

What makes a good topic?

What do you think is the most important factor when you're choosing a topic for an assignment?

What makes a good topic?
It seems really interesting.: 6 votes (10.91%)
It's something from my own life.: 2 votes (3.64%)
People have strong, opposing opinions about it.: 38 votes (69.09%)
It's currently in the news.: 1 votes (1.82%)
Resources on the topic are easy to find.: 8 votes (14.55%)
Total Votes: 55