Focus Your Search Topic
It is difficult to do efficient research if the topic is not well defined. The third step in the process is to focus your topic considering the following points:
Background reading (step 2): Should you narrow your topic? Is it too broad? Should you broaden your topic? Is it too narrow?
Consider various aspects of the topic you might want to cover in your research. Are there organizations or groups who are typically associated with the topic? (For instance, if you are researching animal rights, PETA People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is an organization often identified with animal rights and would be a possible organization for further research.)
Subject/Disciplines: Which academic discipline covers your topic? Which academic departments would study the topic? Determining which disciplinary/subject area you want to explore is a useful step in determining which databases you will need to consult.
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Audience: Is the research intended for a general or specialized group? If you are doing research for a freshman speech class on a topic, you will probably want general information. If, however, you are doing research for an upper level biology class, you will want more specialized, scholarly information.
Besides the previous points, you may also want to consider:
Time: Can/should you limit your topic by time period?
Location: Can/should your question focus on a specific place such as the United States, Georgia, Atlanta?