Refine your topic

Depending on the assignment you may be asked to formulate your topic as a research question or as a thesis statement.

Research question

At the college level, research papers require more than a simple gathering of information and opinions. You need to ask the five W questions: Why, What, Who, Where, When? What would you like to answer with your research? By phrasing your topic as a question your paper becomes more focused. Your research question should have you reflect further on the topic and not be something you already know.

Thesis statement
The thesis statement answers your research question. It is the main purpose of your paper or in other words, a claim you make based on the research you’ve done. The goal of the paper is to provide evidence to support your thesis. What do you want your audience to learn?


Remember to go from general to specific while you’re refining your topic. If your topic is too broad (general) you will end up with too much information to go through. But don’t narrow it so much that you can’t find enough information (topic is too specific).


Tip: You may need to modify your topic as you proceed with your research. Remember to continue to question and remain flexible.