HTML tutorial HTML tutorial


JavaScript disabled or chat unavailable.

MU Home » Academics » Davis Memorial Library » Research Help » Research Guides» Brainstorming Your Research Topic

Brainstorming Your Research Topic
Use this worksheet to develop your research topic. It will guide you through the steps needed to brainstorm and refine your ideas.

Creating Your Research Question

Use this table to narrow your research topic. Most topics should be refined from a broad idea into a more focused topic.
Examples Ex. 1 Ex. 2 Ex. 3 Ex. 4
Broad Topic Crime Immigration Domestic Violence Pollution
Restricted Topic Deterrence of Crimes Immigration and United States Reasons for Domestic Violence Water pollution
Narrowed Topic Capital punishment and deterrence Immigration and enforcement and United States Animal Cruelty and Domestic Violence Fertilizer and Fish
Research Question Does capital punishment deter crimes? Should the United States more stringently enforce immigration laws? Are people that commit animal abuse more likely to commit domestic violence? Does fertilizer in run-off water kill fish?

Use the chart below to narrow your topic into a research question.

  Topic #1 Topic #2
Broad Topic    
Restricted Topic    
Narrowed Topic    
Research Question    

Forming Your Search Strategy

Next, separate your research question into individual concepts. Topics that use difference words to say the same thing should be grouped together. Create a separate category for concepts that have a different meaning. Use the chart below as an example. This example is for research question #2, "Should the United States more stringently enforce immigration laws?"
Concept #1   Concept #2   Concept #3
immigration   enforcement   United States
OR   OR   OR
immigrants   Coast Guard    
OR AND OR AND OR
refugees   police    
OR   OR   OR
    border patrol    
OR   OR   OR

Use the following blank chart with your research question:

Concept #1   Concept #2   Concept #3
OR   OR   OR
OR AND OR AND OR
OR   OR   OR
OR   OR   OR