How to narrow down your research topic

Image courtesy of patrisyu at

Image courtesy of patrisyu at

One of the things novice and emerging researchers can struggle with is learning how to narrow down their research topic. Here are some resources that I’ve personally collected and curated to help you tackle this complex element of developing your research project. At the time of writing this post, all the links worked and none of these resources had pop-up ads, paywalls or require any kind of payment. These are freely available and should be widely accessible by students in most areas.

Written resources:

USC Libraries Research Guide – Organizing your social sciences research paper: Narrowing a Topic Idea –

USU: Ways to Narrow Down a Topic –

Thompson Rivers University: How to Narrow Your Research Topic –

BYU LibGuide: Step-by-Step Guide & Research Rescue: Finding and Narrowing your Topic –

Temple University: Narrowing Your Topic from Subject to Thesis (1-page worksheet) –

Starting a PhD: Choosing and Developing Your Research Topic –

U Penn: Plain Talk About Your Dissertation Proposal –

You Tube videos:

Kansas State University Libraries: How to Develop a Good Research Topic –

M. Moilanen: Now to Narrow Down your Research Topic –

Laurentian University: Narrowing Your Topic –

Amanda Dinscore: Narrowing Your Topic –

Steely Library NKU: Developing a Research Question –

Check out these related posts on this blog:

5 Websites to avoid referencing in your research papers

12 Phrases to Avoid in Your Academic Research Papers

Why APA formatting matters

How many sources do you need in a literature review?

What’s the difference between a citation and a reference?

Why “as cited in” should be avoided in academic writing

10 Great writing resources for grad students –

How to create a research paper outline: 5 great resources

Conceptual and Theoretical Frameworks for Educational Research


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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

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