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Shapiro Library

Getting Started with Research at Shapiro Library

This guide discusses understanding information sources, formulating a topic and search phrase, where and how to search the library for information, how to evaluate sources, how to cite sources, and more.

Narrowing Down or Broadening your Topic


When you need to broaden or narrow down your topic, ask yourself:

Who?

Who am I researching?

  • Consider age, gender, profession, ethnicity, humans vs. animals vs. corporations, etc.

What?

What am I researching?

  • Consider potential causes and effects, trends, statistics, problems, etc.

When? 

What time period am I interested in? 

  • Consider when the topic became significant, century vs. specific dates, historical vs. current data, etc.

Where?

Where is my research topic taking place? 

  • Consider country, state, city, urban vs. rural, environments like prisons vs. college towns, etc.

Why?  

Why does my research matter?

  • Consider what makes it important to you, to your colleagues and peers, to your community, to the world, etc.

Narrowing Down Topic Flowchart