Posted by ebrothen included in Research Tips
Picking the right topic is very difficult, especially when you are new to a subject area. Very often the issue that prompts a learner to talk to a librarian is the problem of the too-broad or too-narrow topic.
Having too broad a topic can be annoying: you search and find way too many resources. But once you’ve found that out, you can quickly see what areas are well-covered in the literature, and focus in on a particular area.
Too narrow a topic can be much harder to deal with, especially if you’ve already committed yourself to the topic. If you think your topic is too narrow, here are some things you can do:
- Search comprehensively: make sure you’ve tried many alternative keywords and all of the relevant databases.
- Bibliography Mining and Cited Reference Searching – along with Interlibrary Loan – can help you flesh out your list of resources across time.
- Expand a bit: don’t limit all of your searches to just a small population group or area. Supplement with related articles that look a bit more broadly at your topic.
- Ask a Librarian for help with any of the above!
Best of all is to get in the habit of searching a bit before committing yourself. Five minutes of searching in the library databases can help you identify good topics from impossible ones.