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ENGL 1221: Writing Seminar

Select a Topic

Select Your Topic

  • Choose a topic that you are interested in, you will be spending a lot of time writing and researching this topic.  
  • Be sure to follow the guidelines that your professor has given you for the research paper or assignment.  
  • Once you have a general topic in mind, identify keywords and find some background information on your topic.  

 

Refine Your Topic

Refine Your Topic

Most researchers start with a topic that is too broad. It's important to narrow your topic so that it fits your assignment. Use the question strategy to help you refine your topic.

Questions to Ask

Who?

  • Who is a specific person or group involved with this topic?
  • Who is a specific person or group affected or impacted by this topic?
  • Who is an important person/group related to this topic?

What?

  • What is a specific aspect of this topic?
  • What is a specific issue related to this topic?

When?

  • When is a specific time that this topic happened?
  • When was a notable time or event related to this topic?
  • Consider past, present, and future.

Where?

  • Where is a specific place that this topic happens or happened?
  • Where was/is a notable place related to this topic?
  • Consider political/geographic entities (cities, states, countries) as well as types of locations (schools, hospitals, etc.)

Why?

  • Why does this topic happen—what is a specific reason?
  • Why is this topic important—what is a specific issue?
  • Why should people care about this topic—what is a specific motivation?

How?

  • How does this topic happen—what is a specific way?
  • How do people work towards/against this topic—what is a specific method?

 

Example Broad Topic: The Environment

Who?

  • endangered species (answers "Who is a specific person or group affected or impacted by this topic?")

What?

  • water pollution (answers "What is a specific issue related to this topic?")

When?

  • 1970s - beginning of the U.S. environmental movement (answers "When was a notable time or event related to this topic?")

Where?

  • North American glaciers (answers "Where was/is a notable place related to this topic?")

Why?

  • food security (answers "Why should people care about this topic?")

How?

  • laws and regulations (answers "How to people work towards/against this topic?")