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From Topic to Question: Narrow Your Research Topic Using Sources

Read library and online sources about your topic to help you develop a focused research question (or thesis).

  • Topic
    • Sources: Background info such as Internet Browse, Wikipedia, Books
    • Example: Effect of Social Media on Health
  • Broad Question
    • Sources: Secondary Sources such as Scholarly Articles
    • Example: What is the effect of social media on health
  • More Specific Question
    • Sources: Secondary Sources such as Scholarly Articles
    • Example: How are teen eating disorders affected by social media?
  • Research Question
    • Sources: Primary sources such as research articles, case studies, data and statistics
    • Example: Can reducing social media exposure reduce eating disorders in adolescents?


  • Use quotation marks around phrases
  • Use boolean operators between search terms (and, not, or)
  • Use limiters like Date, Material Type, and Subject to help narrow your search.
  • Example: "social media" and "eating disorders" and adolescents

Adapted from University of Oregon Libraries

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) License