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Research Process

Refing Topic

If your topic can be summarized in one word it is too broad. thesis statement should be written to help assert your view, structure your argument, and introduce evidence to back up your points. 


Ways to narrow your topic: 


  • Make sure your thesis statement answers some of the following questions:  
    • Who? When? What? Which? Where? How?  

ex. Migrating birds Weather effects on journey of migrating birds in winter. (What, when)



  • Encyclopedia Method: 
    • Skim over an encyclopedia article and read a few intro  paragraphs, subheadings, and look at pictures.  ​​​​​​​

ex. Birds Birds migrating in the winter. Arctic terns migrating to Southern Ocean. 


  • Subtopic Method: 
    • ​​​​​​​Focus topic by limiting subtopics: chronological, geographical, biographical, event-based and technological.  

ex. Geography: The different species of birds migrating from Alaska. 

Technology: How new transmitters help track path of migrating birds. 

A thesis statement: 

  • ...tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. 

  • a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper. 

  • ...directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel. 

  • ...makes a claim that others might dispute. 

  • usually a single sentence near the beginning of your paper (most often, at the end of the first paragraph) that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation. 

From: “Thesis Statements.”, Accessed 22 May 2020. 



A strong thesis statement is specific. If you find yourself using general words like "good," then you're not digging deep enough. 

For example: 

"European travel is a good way to spend your summer," is not specific enough.  

Why is European travel good? Further examine the heart of your topic and focus on very specific areas of European travel that you can realistically cover and support with solid evidence. 


"Solo European travel requires independence which, in the end, bolsters personal confidence."  

This is much more specific and targeted. Now, you can hone in your research on solo travel through Europe, the need for independence, and its positive effect on personal confidence. 


Taken from: “Thesis Statement Examples.” Your Dictionary, Accessed 22 May 2020 

Look for current events or stories related to your topic : 


Twitter: See what others are talking about find something you can tie into your topic. 


News and Media: Use news and media sources to help narrow down your topic and find more information. 


Blogs: See what blogs are writing about and how this might help with your topic. (Make sure the blog you choose is reputable). 


Look for something that interests you and is also current. For instance, if you’re writing about wildlife you may want to write about how the recent oil spill has affected the animals in the water and along the coast.