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Shapiro Library

Organizational Leadership

Comprehensive guide to conducting research in this area utilizing Shapiro Library resources.

Choosing a Topic & Developing a Research Question


Choosing a Topic

When selecting a topic for your research, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will it sustain my interest?
  • Am I choosing a topic because it seems easy or my friends are doing it?
  • Does it fit the parameters of my assignment?
  • How much time do I have and how long does the assignment need to be?
  • Is credible information on this topic readily available?

Watch this Credo Learning Tools video on How to Select a Topic which is an essential foundational step of the research process. The other videos listed on the Credo Research Quick Tips page from the How to Select a Topic video could also be helpful. Take your time viewing those resources.

Narrowing Down or Broadening your Topic

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

Narrowing or Broadening your Topic
5 Ws Question to Ask Explanation
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. Begin with a topic, ask who, what, when, where, why to narrow down topic, and then formulate a question.

Developing a Research Question

When you need to develop a research question, you want to ask yourself: what do you want to know about a topic? Additionally, you'll want to determine use the 5 Ws shown in the table above.

Try these steps to formulate a research question:

Research Question Flowchart 1. Start with your topic, 2. Focus your topic (who, what, when , where, why), 3. Formulate a question to ask about your topic, 4. Narrow down your question further if possible

Check out these links and the video below for more information:

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