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CSCR 45001: Exploring Black Sexualities

Narrowing your topic

Once you have selected a topic to focus on or have been given a topic, you will need to focus your topic.

For a project, you will need to choose a fairly narrow topic. 

You topic is too broad if:

You find dozens of books on it

It's difficult to write a thesis statement

You can't squeeze everything you want to discuss into the word limit

Narrowing a Topic: Who, What, Where, When

For example, perhaps your broad topic is the effects of racial profiling. Brainstorm: 

Who: Black men, First Nations, Muslims 

What effects or aspect of your topic are you interested in? Ex: employment, self-esteem, education, incarceration

Where: United States? Canada? India? 

When: Present time, historical perspective, 1990s? 

By selecting from the above, we could narrow our topic of "racial profiling" to a more specific research question. For example: 

What are the effects racial profiling has on the employment of black men in the United States? 

What are the effects racial profiling has on the incarceration rates of First Nations individuals in Canada? 

Next, ask Why or How, rather than What

Interesting research questions ask why or how, rather than what. We can easily turn our questions into why or how questions. For example:

How does racial profiling effect the employment opportunities of black men in the United States?

Why is racial profiling related to higher incarceration rates among First Nations individuals in Canada? 

Focusing your topic

  • by geographical area
  • by culture
  • by time frame
  • by discipline
  • by population group

Jennifer Richards

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Jenny Richards