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1. Choose a Topic

Goal: Make sure your topic will work well for library research.

At this point, you have brainstormed and have chosen two potential topics. Now, make sure your topics will work well for research.

Adjust your topic ideas so they meet these criteria:

Is your topic...

1) Open-ended?

If your question can be answered with "yes" or "no," can you reword it so it's a "how" question?

Your topic should have more than one possible answer or solution. Your goal is to find out what different studies say about your topic, even if they contradict each other. Aim to learn something new, not to confirm what you already believe! Even if you're familiar with your topic, the articles you find might present different solutions.

2) Not too broad or too narrow?

A broad topic will get you too many articles, which is overwhelming. But a narrow topic makes it hard to find enough articles.

You can modify your topic later. For now, review these examples and think about how you could adjust the scope of your question.

Too broad:
  • How does social support affect quality of life?
  • COVID-19 and mental health
  • Disparities in health insurance access
Too narrow:
  • How does having ten or more friends affect quality of life in women with dementia over age 95?
  • The impact of social isolation on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic in Minnesota
  • How does having Blue Cross Blue Shield affect whether patients with cancer can get a flu shot?

Examples of topics that work well for research:

  • How does social support affect quality of life for elderly people with dementia?
  • The impact of social isolation on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • How can healthcare providers improve access to flu shots in patients without insurance?

Next Step

Stop sign  Are your topics open-ended and not too broad or too narrow? Which one of your two topics do you want to use for the next steps?


Check mark   If you've chosen a topic to try, great! Next step → 2. Search for Articles