Using Sources to Define a Topic

While having the freedom to choose a topic for an academic project gives you the opportunity to work on a subject that is interesting to you, chances are you may find it difficult to make up your mind or define your topic in such a way that is manageble. Here are some ways in which sources can help you focus on a topic within your areas of interest and your avialble time and resources.

Test-search Your Topic Get Background Information
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Test-search Your Topic

Locating your topic on a print index or electronic search system can be useful in determining whether there is sufficient information available, or whether it would be better to work on a broader subject, a subtopic or related topic. If your topic is not listed, it might be an indication that you will have some difficulty finding enough information on your topic. If you find subtopics listed under your topic, it may be that it would be advisable to narrow down your topic so as to not get bogged down by too much information. Check if there are related topics listed with your topic. They may be more in tune with your interests.

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Get Background Information

Familiarize yourself with your prospective topic by reading general information available in works of reference such as encyclopedias. Doing so helps you determine whether the topic is truly within your areas of interest, and it helps you learn the vocabulary of your topic and the main ideas involded. If even general information on your topic seems to be copious, you may want to narrow it down. Conversely, if there is not much information, it may be better to broaden it. Bibliographies provided alongside general information articles are also an indication of how much information on the topic is available elsewhere.

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