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Choose a Topic: sub-module 1 of 5 of how to research

This module explains how to choose a research topic that fits within the bounds of your assignment. You will also learn to choose a topic to research that is neither too broad nor too narrow.

 

Tips

  • Start with the assignment.Take a look at your assignment. Does it provide you with topic options, or can you select your own?
  • Not too broad, not too narrow.Do some background research, and identify a topic angle. Keep in mind: narrow topic - not enough resources, broad topic - too many resources.
  • Topic examples.Too broad: Why do people drive electric cars?
    Too narrow: How many Ontario drivers prefer electric cars over other types of cars because they like how they look?
    Just right: Why do some Canadians choose to purchase electric cars?

     

  • Form a research strategy.The type of information you need to find will dictate where you need to search. Open web or library resources? Identify strong keywords, synonyms and related terms.

From a Research Question to Keywords

Take your research question to the next level. Use this worksheet to identify keywords that you will use to search for information.

The Art of Keywords

The words you choose for your search will have an impact on the results you find. There are many different ways of describing the same topic. People use different words to discuss the same subject. It is up to you to select words that will help you find the most relevant information.

Take a moment to learn more about Keywords, Synonyms and Related Terms.

Keywords are words that hold the essence, or the key idea, of what you are trying to find. Keywords are words with the most meaning. Using relevant keywords in your search will lead you to better information. If you are searching towards an assignment, you can identify the first keywords from the topic itself.

Topic example: Why do some Canadians choose to purchase electric cars?

Keywords: reasons, Canadians, purchase, electric cars

Synonyms are words that have the same, or similar meaning as the main keywords. Synonyms and keywords are interchangeable, which means that the meaning of your search will remain the same.

Here are a few synonyms for the topic: Why do some Canadians choose to purchase electric cars?

reasons = decisions

Canadians = Canadian people, Canadian drivers

purchase = buy, acquire

electric cars = hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles, hybrid cars

Related terms are words that generally mean the same thing as the main keywords. For example: tablet - device, car - vehicle, pop - carbonated drink. While related terms don’t mean exactly the same thing as the words they are replacing, they are an excellent tool for broadening the scope of your search.

Here are a few related terms for the topic: Why do some Canadians choose to purchase electric cars?

reasons = incentives, preferences

Canadians = Ontario drivers, drivers, motor vehicle operators

purchase = lease, rent

electric cars = driverless cars, environmentally friendly vehicles