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EN1030/1035 University Writing & Research: Topics & Background

Topic Idea Starters

Narrowing a Topic

Answer the following 5Ws when narrowing a topic -- Who?, What?, Where?, Why?, and When?. The following is an example of how a topic might be narrowed:

Topic:   Immigration

Narrower topic: Immigration policy

Narrower topic: Immigration policy reform

Narrower topic: Immigration policy reform (What?) -- Public opinion (Who?) -- United States (Germany, United Kingdom, France, etc.) (Where?)

Narrower topic: Immigration policy reform (What?) -- United States (Where?) -- 20th century (When?)

Watch this video (5:20) created by Henry Madden Library, Fresno State University for more information on the practice of narrowing topics.

Start here for Background on your topic

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Sources for Background Information

There are a number of print Reference resources on the main floor of the Learning Commons (east side), such as the Encyclopedia of Educational Research, and The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. These sources are great for background information on a topic, as well as locating additional evidence sources for your topic. When searching the library system, items with an "Ref" in the call number (i.e., Ref. LB15 .E48) are located on the main floor of the Learning Commons. Ask a librarian for assistance if you are having difficulty finding credible and relevant sources for your topic.

The following resources provide access to electronic versions (eBooks) of subject-specific dictionaries, encyclopedias, and handbooks.