narrow topic examples

narrow topic examples

How do I Know If My Topic Needs to be Narrowed?

Most students will have to narrow down their topic at least a little. The first clue is that your paper needs to be narrowed is simply the length your professor wants it to be. You can't properly discuss "war" in 1,000 words, nor talk about orange rinds for 12 pages. Preliminary research also helps you determine whether or not you'll even need to refine your topic.

The amount of resources is often a good guide. For example, if you knew that you didn't need more than six to eight references for your paper and there are over 50 books, that's a good sign to narrow your subject area to a more specific topic. Or, if you are writing a fifteen page paper and you can't find more than three sources, you will have to broaden your topic. 1

The other great guide, which is somewhat subjective, is the popularity of the subject area or topic itself. Consider how popular your topic is with the general public? In a college setting? With your fellow classmates? If your subject wouldn't be interesting to any of those audiences, you may want to reconsider your topic. 1

  1. First start out with a general topic. Take the topic and break it down into categories by asking the five W’s and H.
    1. Who? (American Space Exploration)
    2. What? (Manned Space Missions)
    3. Where? (Moon Exploration)
    4. When? (Space exploration in the 1960's)
    5. Why? (Quest to leave Earth)
    6. How? (Rocket to the Moon: Space Exploration)
  2. Now consider the following question areas to generate specific ideas to narrow down your topic.
    1. Problems faced? (Sustaining Life in Space: Problems with space exploration)
    2. Problems overcome? (Effects of zero gravity on astronauts)
    3. Motives (Beating the Russians: Planning a moon mission)
    4. Effects on a group? (Renewing faith in science: aftershock of the Moon mission)
    5. Member group? (Designing a moon lander: NASA engineers behind Apollo 11)
    6. Group affected? (From Test Pilots to Astronauts: the new heroes of the Air force)
    7. Group benefited? (Corporations that made money from the American Space Program)
    8. Group responsible for/paid for _____ (The billion dollar bill: taxpayer reaction to the cost of sending men to the moon)
  3. Finally, refine your ideas by by considering the S.O.C.R.A.P.R . model.
    1. S = Similarities (Similar issues to overcome between the 1969 moon mission and the planned 2009 Mars Mission)
    2. O = Opposites (American pro and con opinions about the first mission to the moon)
    3. C = Contrasts (Protest or patriotism: different opinions about cost vs. benefit of the moon mission)
    4. R = Relationships (the NASA family: from the scientists on earth to the astronauts in the sky)
    5. A = Anthropomorphisms [interpreting reality in terms of human values] (Space: the final frontier)
    6. P = Personifications [giving objects or descriptions human qualities] (the eagle has landed: animal symbols and metaphors in the space program)
    7. R = Repetition (More missions to the moon: Pro and Con American attitudes to landing more astronauts on the moon) 2

If you are still having difficulty try combining a few ideas generated by the previous activities or visit the following links.

Narrow Topic: The Major Causes of Car Accidents in Jamaica - Accidents Essay Example

According to the National Road Saftey Council, Jamaica (2004), “in 1999, motor vehicle accidents represented the twelfth leading cause of deaths island wide” and in 2002, 408 people died in motor vehicle accidents in Jamaica. That is a rate of 15. 5/100,000 population. Motor vehicle accident is a serious problem among the Jamaican population. It is defined in the dictionary as “The unintended collision of one motor vehicle with another, a stationary object, or person, resulting in injuries, death and/or loss of property. However, strictly speaking, most motor vehicle accidents are not accidents at all, they could and should have been avoided. In Jamaica the major factors contributing to the cause of motor vehicle accidents include speeding, tailgating, and overtaking improperly. The major cause of motor vehicle accidents include the driver failing to keep maintains proper distance between himself and the vehicle in front as specified in the road code. This is referred to as tailgating.

The rule of maintaining a proper distance between vehicles is very relevant as it prevent the driver from running into the back of the other vehicle in case the driver in front should stop suddenly or make an unexpected move. Though this rule have so many preventative measure a large amount of Jamaica drives still continue ignore this recommendation; sadly it is the largest cause of motor vehicle accidents in Jamaica accounting for 14,126 of the motor vehicle accidents taking place in the last decade 1991-2011 (Jamaica Observer 2012).

essay sample on "Narrow Topic: The Major Causes of Car Accidents in Jamaica"

More Accidents Essay Topics.

Speeding is also, a major cause of motor vehicle accident in Jamaica. In fact, Dr. P. Ayee Jr. (Executive Director of the Mona Geoinformatics Institute) as quoted in the Jamaica Observer (2012) adds that speeding is the fifth leading cause of crashes in Jamaica. Though the laws prohibit speeding above a certain limit people tend to feel impressed to exceed this limit especially if they are in a hurry or on a smooth road. When there is peeding it leaves little room for errors and with lack of the skills required to properly manoeuvre and handle their vehicle properly it will lead, sadly, to them to losing control of the vehicle resulting in an accident. In addition to speeding and tailgating, improper overtaking was found to play a major role in motor vehicle accidents. Dr. Ayee Jr. (2012) also went on to comment that overtaking improperly, accounted for 4,676 of the reports (Jamaica Observer, 2012). Improper overtaking occurs when individual makes improper lane change at inappropriate places and time.

When this is done the risk or vehicle to vehicle collision or hitting a pedestrian or obstacle increases of then because such an action was not expected. Hence, the care coming on the other side of the road or the pedestrian would not be able to quickly get out of the way to avoid an accident. These causes of motor vehicle accidents sadly are due to the intentional violation of the rules of road conduct. If something is not done Motor vehicle accidents will increase causing death or injury to pedestrians, property, drivers and passengers.

Take a look at these four essay topics, and tell me why they won’t work as a topic for your paper:

If you said that all of these are great subjects but they aren’t great topics because they’re too broad, you’re right.

You cannot possibly write a good essay about such a large topic in only a few pages. There’s simply too much information to include and not enough space to put it in. It’s like stuffing five pounds of potatoes into a three-pound sack. It just isn’t going to work.

Don’t know how to narrow a topic that’s too broad? Feel like you’re sinking fast and need some help ASAP?

Hang in there. I’m about to throw you a lifeline and show you how to narrow a topic and write a focused paper.

“Quicksand kitteh needs to think fast” by chwalker01, Flickr.com (CC BY 2.0) /cropped and speech bubble added

How to Tell If Your Topic Is Too Broad

If your mind is racing with so many different options and angles that you don’t know where to start, chances are your topic is too broad.

Here’s an example.

Let’s say you want to write about skateboarding. You have four pages to write a convincing essay about your topic, but what should you write about?

You might write about the origins of skateboarding, skateboarding at the X Games, or skateboard clothing, jargon, tricks, or culture.

See what I mean? This topic is too broad, and you cannot possibly write an effective essay that encompasses everything about skateboarding in only four pages.

You’ll need to narrow it to something more manageable. Luckily, I’m here to help. Let’s dive into how to narrow a topic and write a focused paper, shall we?

Three Strategies for How to Narrow a Topic

Not all strategies work best for all topics, so try a combination of all of these to see which works best for your topic.

To narrow your topic, think of ways to make your topic more specific by focusing on a smaller aspect of the topic, one key component of the topic, a specific time period, or perhaps a specific location.

If you want to write about music, consider how you might be more specific. What type of music do you want to write about? Will you write about hip hop, jazz, country, pop, opera, or some other type?

Will you focus on music from the United States, or will you write about music from another country? Will you focus on current hits, music from the 1960s, or music from another era?

For this example, let’s focus on US pop music in recent decades. (See, the topic is already much narrower, right?)

Strategy #2: Ask journalists’ questions

Ask yourself who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Asking these questions will help you focus your ideas and help you consider new angles to your topic.

Let’s apply these to the topic of pop music in the United States.

  • Who? Boy bands, female artists, one-hit wonders
  • What? Hit records, major fails, highest earners
  • When? Current acts, musicians of various decades
  • Where? United States
  • Why? Compare acts, inform readers, argue who is the best/worst
  • How? How did they become so popular? How did their popularity fizzle so quickly?

As you answer these questions, you’ll notice that you still have a lot of information to sort through—and a lot of decisions to make.

Some of these decisions will be made for you by your assignment guidelines. For instance, if you have to write an argument essay, you certainly aren’t going to compare NSYNC to One Direction or tell readers how Taylor Swift rose to fame. Neither of these topics are argumentative.

Instead, you could argue that NSYNC is more talented than One Direction (or vise versa).

Even though research is listed third on this list, it doesn’t mean you have to research last. You might need to spend some time researching to learn more about your topic even before you figure out how to narrow a topic.

And just because you research once to narrow your topic doesn’t mean the research is over. You might need to return to your narrowed topic and research it again to learn more about that topic. (I know. It feels like a never-ending process, doesn’t it?)

As you research, look for specifics about a subject and check to see what others are writing about. You might just read something you hadn’t thought about that would make a great topic.

If, for example, you were still trying to find a way to narrow your skateboarding topic, a quick Google search might lead you to information about skateparks.

You might have to write a persuasive paper, and suddenly you’re inspired to write your paper about why your local community needs to build a skatepark.

What a great idea! See? A little research can go a long way in when you’re figuring out how to narrow a topic!

Let’s look at the pop music example again.

In this case, a little research can help you narrow the list of countless one-hit wonders to a short list of songs from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.

Here are a few examples to start your list:

With a solid list of examples, you can listen to the songs again and again and start to figure out what they might have in common and why they were so popular. (Your research might also help with the analysis of what made these songs hits.)

If you need more one-hit wonders, here’s a Wikipedia list for inspiration.

Once you’ve sufficiently narrowed your topic, put it all together to form the focus of your paper.

In our example, we narrowed the broad topic of music to a comparison of one-hit wonders of the 1980s–2000s and included an examination of what makes the songs popular.

Now, since you learned how to narrow a topic, you have a sense of where you’re going and what you should be writing about. Now you’re on your way to writing a focused paper.

Don’t stop there!

Before you start writing, turn your narrowed topic into an effective thesis statement.

A thesis statement about one-hit wonders might look like this:

From the 1980s through the 2000s, one-hit wonders in pop music have managed to solidify their places in music history through one key musical component: a catchy hook.

Notice how the thesis statement is specific and narrowed to explain to readers exactly the focus of your paper. (This thesis also gives you a clear focus and will make writing your paper much easier.)

Now that you know how to narrow a topic for your paper (and cannot stop singing one of those catchy, one-hit wonders–you’re welcome), you can (finally) start writing.

What is the difference between restricted topic and narrow topic?

You can be more specific "narrow) Example: The Battle of Fallujah

These are just general examples and not fit for a research topic. For that you would need a narrowed topic with a question or problem to answer

2 [more re*strict*ed; most re*strict*ed] : having definite rules about what or who is allowed and not allowed ▪ He is on a severely/very restricted diet. ▪ The beach has restricted access. [=only certain people can go on the beach]

3 : allowing use or entry by only certain people ▪ a restricted country club ▪ You have entered a restricted area.

4 : kept secret from all but a few people : classified ▪ a restricted document ▪ That information is restricted.

Choosing and Narrowing a Topic to Write About (for Research Papers)

The process described here simplifies choosing a topic for a research paper and narrowing it down. Those who go through the steps outlined by this process will be able to identify their topics more precisely while making their research efforts more efficient.

The process described in this learning packet involves six steps that take virtually any topic in the universe and develop it into an arguable topic that can be explored and defended through research.

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Introduction to Choosing a Research Topic

Introduction: Research is Never a Waste of Time, But Always Make Good Use of Your Time.

It is natural to stand at the beginning of a research project and feel overwhelmed by the amount of published research that exists in databases, literature reviews, and reference pages. At the same time, each new research project brings the hope of discovering something new. Overwhelming though a project may be, starting at the foothills of a new thread of research is a great privilege, and is best approached as an opportunity to learn rather than a drudgery. As a researcher/writer, you have the chance to dive more deeply into less frequently encountered pools of knowledge.

Depending on the topic or scope of your research, it is also natural to spend many days and weeks - and in some cases months and years - searching. No matter how great or small the scope of research is, the serious researcher needs to reserve adequate time to perform a thorough survey of published articles. For an undergraduate course project, finding five or six sources might seem like plenty of material to review, but graduate-level writing projects typically involve up to 20 sources minimum.

Please note that the main point here is not to say that it is only the number of research articles matters most, but rather that having a broad spectrum of papers to choose from helps you choose your topic for at least the following two reasons: 1) a larger pool of sources provides you with a broader perspective of the topics within your scope of research and 2) along the way you will find many topics within your field that you DO NOT want to write about! So, one particularly effective way of viewing research is not finding the absolute minimum sources to "get by", but rather to find a variety of sources that you can use. like an artist uses negative space to "carve" shapes out of a dark background. to guide you toward topics that are more directly relevant to your topic.

The good news is that as you research you may find that some of your sources that were published in the same decade or so will cite and reference each other.

One of the joys and privileges of research is being able to follow your curiosity; if you are truly curious about your topic, and authentically driven to find out as much as you can, then even the articles you don't find interesting will be useful for a future project, and no energy will be wasted.

Source: Neil Cunningham

Steps 1, 2, and 3: Choosing a Topic

Well, you've been researching for a while now, and you are now ready to settle down on a specific topic. You can do this easily by moving through the following steps. (For the purposes of this learning packet, let say that you are writing on the subject of decomposition.)

Choosing a Specific Topic in Three Steps

1. Choose any topic or topics in the universe. - "e.g., something about organic matter"

2. Be a little more specific about your topic. - "e.g., compost and soil"

3. Be a lot more specific about your topic - "e.g., soil nutrients released by organic matter decomposition"

4. Repeat these three steps three or more times to give yourself a few examples of topics to choose from. When you have a few examples, choose the topic that you feel meets your course requirements, the needs of your intended (or imagined) audience, and/or has the most relevant source material to support it. .

Once you feel terrifically solid about the topic you have chosen, you are ready to Narrow Down Your Topic . Always remember that you can go back to research at any time of your writing process.

Source: Neil Cunningham

Steps 3, 4, and 5: Narrowing Down Your Topic

During the first three steps, you chose a topic. For some, this topic may seem like it's ready to be written about, but the level of precision required in the context of academic writing requires writer-researcher to go through a few additional steps.

In other words, many articles have already been written that describe various aspects of organic matter decomposition, so we must narrow down our chosen topic so that we can focus our research efforts on a more precise question or thesis statement.

Narrowing a Topic in Three Steps, Starting from a Topic that Was Selected Using the Three-Step Choosing a Topic Process.

1) Make one or two more words more specific.

In this case, we replaced the words "soil nutrients" with nitrogen and replaced "organic matter" with food waste to make the topic we wish to write about as precise and as specific as possible.

  • Example: " soil nutrients nitrogen released by organic matter the decomposition of food waste"

2) OK, we've added a few words to make the topic more specific. Now turn the topic into a complete sentence that actually makes a statement.

  • Example: The forms of nitrogen released by the decomposition of food waste is poorly understood.

3) Make the sentence as precise and arguable as possible.

If you compare the following example with the previous step, you might notice how the context of decomposition moves from just a generalized process of decomposition to a particular process that involves household waste. In addition, this example makes a firm statement that can be argued and supported.

  • Example: The amount and value of plant-available nitrogen released by decomposition of household food waste is not well understood because most home composters do not have the tools to measure soil nutrients.

Source: Neil Cunningham

In summary, the steps outlined in this learning packet encourage academic writers who want to increase the precision of the topics they write about to go through a process.

This learning packet has broken down the process of selecting a topic into two large steps - choosing a topic and narrowing it down.

To choose a general topic, follow the following steps:

1) Choose a topic area. Example: beer

2) Take you topic area and describe it more specifically. Example: beer and microorganisms

3) Name a specific aspect of the specific topic. Example: the quality of beer and the quality of microorganisms needed to brew it properly

To narrow down the focus of your topic, follow the following three steps:

4) Write down additional specific about your topic. Example: brewing quality tasting beer and the health of the colonies of yeast used to brew small batches of beer properly.

5) Turn your topic into a sentence that is a statement. Example: The quality of small batches of beer is affected by the overall health of the yeast used during fermentation.

6) Now add "fine" focus to your statement by making a statement that can (although it does not necessarily need to) refer back to your research. Example: A survey of microbrewers suggests that beer taste is equally affected by the health of yeast used during fermentation as it is by the quality of the grains used.

Source: Neil Cunningham

Choosing and Narrowing a Topic

This audio file describes the process of choosing and narrowing a topic that is demonstrated in this learning packet. This audio file is a supplement to the text portion of this packet, and is meant to be listened to the powerpoint slide.

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