STEP 1: The first step to research is developing a topic that is not too broad or narrow in scope.
To begin, choose a topic by considering:
STEP 2: To narrow or broaden the topic, add or remove a time period, place, person(s), event or subtopic:
Topic is too general and broad to address through a short piece of writing:
The Metis Nation in Saskatchewan
a) Add subtopic and time period:
The politics of the Metis in 19th century Saskwatchewan
b) Add person(s), event and place:
Louis Riel and the Metis rebellion in Saskatchewan
Topic is too specific and narrow:
The representation of politics in the visual art of Metis women in late 20th century Saskatchewan
a) Remove subtopic, person(s) and time period:
Visual art of Aboriginal peoples in Saskatchewan
b) Remove place and expand time period:
The representation of politics in visual art of the Metis in the 20th century
STEP 3: Restate the topic using "who, what, where, why, when, and how" questions. For example:
Why did Louis Riel lead a rebellion of the Metis Nation in Saskatchewan?
How are politics represented in visual art of Aboriginal peoples in Canada?
When beginning a research project, it is very helpful to explore the background of a topic to familiarize yourself with key concepts and issues prior to forming an argument:
Use the search box below to find background information in Canadian Points of View Reference Centre:
is a reference database that provides balanced essays and introductory overviews of controversial issues in Canadian society, with study questions and supporting articles for further research.
Follow these links for more tools and information on creating and using concept maps:
A working thesis is a "rough draft" of your thesis that provides initial direction for the essay but will be adjusted and changed as you research and write.
As you gather and read more sources, you will find evidence that requires you to modify the working thesis.
To form a working thesis, ask questions that trigger a debatable claim.
In using the theme of environmentalism and the topic of recycling, here are questions to consider:
A working thesis based on these questions could be: Calgary should expand recycling programs for discarded electronics.
In using the theme of reproductive rights and the topic of childrearing, here are a few questions to consider:
A working thesis based on these questions could be: Alberta should provide access to affordable daycare similar to what is available in Québec.*
*Adapted from the "Student Papers & Academic Research Kit" Tutorial, copyright at SPARK at York University 2013
Developing a Topic Tutorial
This video tutorial will show you how to develop an appropriate topic for a research paper by considering goals, approaches, topic scope and helpful resources:
Reference books and databases provide general, introductory and background information, which is helpful when beginning to explore and develop a research topic:
A compendium of knowledge or branches of knowledge presented in a comprehensive but easy-to-read and concise manner: