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Choosing a topic can be the most challenging part of research. Ideas can really come from anywhere and we have to be open to where are reading and thinking might take us. There is no right way to tackle this part of the process, it can look different for everyone. Here are some suggestions as you begin the process:
At this stage, use what you've learned during the process of gathering background information to broaden or narrow the focus of your topic and research question.
You should ask yourself the 5 Ws and 1 H, or Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? to help you formulate your research question.
A good rule of thumb: if there is an entire book on your topic, it is too broad for a research paper. On the other hand, if the topic can be discussed in a few paragraphs, then it is too narrow.
Example: "The role of women in the plays of Shakespeare" is too broad because hundreds of books and articles have been written on this topic; "The symbolism of Ariel's costume in the Tempest" is likely too narrow because there are not enough books and articles discussing this specific detail.
You may find that you go through the process of refining your topic more than once.