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Identifying when a topic is too narrow or too broad

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How do you know when your topic is too narrow, too broad, or just right? Consider the following points.

When is a topic too broad?
  • when it cannot be covered in detail in your assignment
  • when all you can write are general statements about a general subject
  • when it is hard to research because there is so much information

For example, if during your overview research, you found 100s or 1000s of items relevant to your topic, it is too broad.

When is a topic too narrow?
  • when it can be discussed in great detail in less than the required size of your assignment
  • when it is hard to research because there is so little information

For example, if, during your overview research, you found only 3 or 4 items relevant to your topic, it is too narrow.

HINT: sometimes, this is because the topic is too current.

When is a topic just right?
  • when you can find enough information to examine the subject in detail
  • when you can create an interesting and informative project that meet the requirements of your assignment.
What do I do if I can't decide?
  • when you can't decide whether a topic is too narrow or too broad ASK A LIBRARIAN to help you find the subject headings for your topic.
  • If your topic has subject headings with lots of titles attached to them, then your topic is too broad,
  • If your topic has subject headings with lots of subdivisions, then your topic is too broad
  • If your topic has very few subject headings and very few titles attached to them, then your topic is probably too narrow.
  • If your topic has very few subject headings with few or no subdivisions, then your topic is probably too narrow.

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