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Composition II Research Guide for ENGL 102: Developing a Topic

​Developing Your Topic

When you begin your research, you start with a broad topic. It is important that you focus your topic to make it manageable. For your assignment, you'll need to come up with a well-developed thesis statement.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is affected by your topic? (people, culture, demographics)
  • What are the major issues and viewpoints to consider for your topic?
  • Where is your topic most important? (geographical regions- local, national, international)
  • When is/was your topic most important? Is it current, historical, ongoing?
  • Why did you choose this topic? Do you have an opinion on the issues surrounding your topic?

Source: Mesa Community College. Determining your research question. 

From Topic to Research Question

Focusing Your Topic: The 5 W's

Once you have a broad topic, it is important to come up with a manageable, focused research question -- one that is neither too broad or too narrow.

The 5 W's, described in the video below, are a helpful tool for focusing your research question/topic.

Issues-Oriented Databases

These are great places to begin research on current issues. Opposing Viewpoints and Points of View Reference Center contain viewpoints on current and controversial issues, but also much more: a variety of articles from magazines or scholarly journals, government information and primary sources, depending on the database.