Choose a Research Topic

Developing a Research Topic

Not Sure Where to Start? Browse through Background Material

Start with your course textbooks, lecture notes, online encyclopedias, or other background resources relevant to your subject area. These materials can help give you ideas for ways to focus your topic.

  • Search MRU Library Catalogue to find background material. Enter a keyword that relates to your topic, plus the word encyclopedia, dictionary, handbook, etc. Some examples:
    • women and encyclopedia
    • philosophy and dictionary

Narrowing your focus

A big, broad topic can be more difficult to research than a smaller, more focused topic.

Narrow your topic by focusing on one of the five Ws:

  • Who? - Focus on a particular person, population or group as the object of your research
  • Where? - narrow your focus to a specific community, region or country
  • When? - concentrate on a specific time period
  • What? - choose a particular event, or a specific example or application of a process, theory, approach or methodology
  • Why? – discuss why your topic matters. What is a specific outcome, impact, or implication? Examine specific reasons why something happens or happened.

You could also take a general topic and focus it by phrasing it as a question or statement.

For example:

Adolescent Sexuality --

Does the age at which adolescents become sexually active impact their educational achievement?


Peer pressure has a negative impact on teenagers’ sexual risk taking.

Need more help? Ask at the Service Desk

The staff at the service desk will be able to help you choose a starting point or refine your topic to a manageable size.