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ENGL 101 - English Composition I - Katzoff

Need to adjust?

It is important to recognize if your topic is appropriate in it's scope. If it is too broad, you will not be able to write a good paper because the information you are finding is enough to fill a book. If the topic is too narrow, you will struggle to find anything that is relevant. Both of these situations can be very stressful, so doing enough background research to determine if your topic is off to a good start will help!

Broad / Narrow / Just Right

Your topic is too broad if...

  • you are having difficulty discussing something in depth or writing something original.
  • the only similarity between your resources is that they all mention the word you typed. 
  • there are a lot of subtopics within the concept.
  • there is a book with that title.

Example that is too broad: North American Tree Squirrels.


Your topic is too narrow if...

  • you get no (or only a few) results in the databases. 
  • you get a lot results in the databases, but they're not what you're looking for.
  • you can't seem to find anything to support your ideas.

Example that is too narrow: Squirrel response to student presence on the community college campus in North America.

Your topic is just right if...

  • you readily find articles that match with your ideas.
  • you can see the connection between the work, the article, and your interest.
  • you feel like you'll be able to write enough without stretching it or editing it down too much.

Example that is just right: Different responses to human presence among rural and urban squirrels.