How to Narrow Down a Research Topic: Step-by-Step Guide

Topic selection bears much primacy among various considerations in your essay writing process. Settling for an overly broad/narrow topic may be detrimental to your word count and compromise the quality of arguments within your research paper. 

If you opt to write your paper without narrowing your topic you risk tackling irrelevant information or missing crucial arguments within your paper. It is thus crucial that your paper caters to all relevant arguments within your prescribed length.

Unfortunately, many students face an issue when it comes to selecting and defining their essay topics. Here, we’ll offer some tips on how to narrow a topic, helping you ensure proper topic selection. 

What is a narrowed topic 

A narrowed topic is a topic that defines various variables of analysis, ensuring that a paper can be exhausted within a specified length. Unlike a broad topic, the outline for a narrowed essay topic contains ideas that are relevant to a study and covers all questions within the thesis statement.

Also, narrowed topics yield a specific document upon research. This is contrary to broad topic ideas which may yield multiple documents addressing a diverse range of ideas related to your key phrase. 

How to narrow a research topic 

Having tackled the narrow topic meaning, let’s discuss how you can narrow a broad topic for an easier essay writing experience. 

  1. Define the 5 W’s and single H

This is perhaps the simplest approach for narrowing your research topic. As you brainstorm your topic, clarify the what, where, why, when, who and how of your topic sentence. 


what? Tech integration

When? 21st century

Why? To improve teaching-learning and student performance

Where? Elementary schools in Rudolf

Who? Students

How? Through using audio-visual aids and virtual reality

From this, we can establish the topic: The impacts of audio-visual aids and virtual reality in teaching-learning and student performance in elementary schools in Rudolf.

This approach caters to all details you should consider in your topic, avoiding any ambiguity that could lead to an incomplete research paper.

  1. Highlight your research perspective 

Often, you will be informed that a topic defined in two keywords e.g., drug abuse and poor performance is broad and unideal for a research paper. As such, you should work to narrow your focus from a general topic to a more specific idea.

For instance, instead of discussing drug use in college, come up with questions to establish the exact issue you intend to analyse within college drug abuse. These questions will guide your research efforts and enable you to focus your attention on more specific and relevant issues. 

  1. Define the place

Defining the geographic unit of your analysis reduces the focus group, helping you specify various driving forces behind a phenomenon under study. As such, be keen to define the area to which your study is confined, therefore, overcoming any loopholes in your arguments. 

  1. Analyse various components of your research paper

Can your variables of analysis be broken down into smaller components for precise analysis? For instance, the topic: of drug abuse in college can be narrowed to the triggers of drug abuse in college or the impact of drug use on students’ academic performance. 

  1. Conduct research and develop an outline

After selecting a topic, conduct extensive research and prepare an outline of your arguments. This will give you a perspective of your arguments and serve as a basis for approximating your word count. 

The outline also helps you to gauge the completeness of your research and to sift irrelevant claims. During the research, we suggest that you pay close attention to the ideas you have encountered during class time and also consult emerging issues within a topic for inspiration for your thesis. 

Steps for narrowing down a topic

  1. Select a general idea

e.g., student performance

  1. Describe your focus

e.g., student performance in elementary school

  1. Highlight the key aspects of your paper

e.g., the impact of tech integration on performance at an elementary level

  1. Define the specific issues

e.g., tech integration in elementary-level teaching-learning approaches is beneficial for elementary students

  1. Define the time and geographic region of your analysis

e.g., Tech integration in teaching-learning will help improve the performance of elementary students in Rudolph. 

Broad topics examples 

  • Why is the word “religion” currently the most misunderstood? 
  • How will life be altered by COVID-19 
  • Regarding mental health, while withdrawn 
  • prevention of childhood obesity 
  • relationships over a distance 
  • consequences of cheating in schools 
  • Does our system of education fit our culture? 
  • Is the death penalty moral?
  • Should animal testing be permitted?
  • Workplace sexual harassment

Narrow topic examples

  • Is diversity beneficial to a team, and if so, why?
  • Why are some sports more well-liked than others?
  • Can theme parks serve a function other than entertainment, such as education?
  • Are male friendships different from female ones, and if so, why?
  • Does a person’s level of success in life depend on how attractive they are in general?
  • How do we handle a massive influx of immigrants?
  • What are the advantages of coffee and energy drinks?
  • Why is communism the finest form of government in the world?
  • The use of messengers harms communication culture.
  • Do actors who portray murders and psychopaths put their mental health at risk?

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