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PSY 199 - Students Without Borders

Mind Mapping to Narrow or Broaden a Topic

If you're not sure where to start with your research question, create a mind map and use the 6 question words to think about your topic.

Mind Map with 6 question words surrounding it

Mind Maps by Tom Peterson © 2013 Thunderhead Works. All Rights Reserved. Used for educational purposes only under Fair Use.

Narrowing/broadening a topic tips


If your topic is broad, consider asking yourself the 6 Ws (who, what, when, where, why, and how) and trying a combination of these elements with your broad topic:

  • WHO: Population (age, gender, ethnicity, etc.)
  • WHAT: Type based on the topic (example: topic is renewable energy, types could be wind energy, solar energy, etc.)
  • WHEN: Choose a timeframe (time period or time in life)
  • WHERE: Choose a location (states, region, country, etc.)
  • WHY: Why does it matter to research this topic?
  • HOW: How will I go about finding information on this topic?

Examples with the topic concussions in sports:

  • WHO: Kid sports and concussions
  • WHAT: Kids and football concussions
  • WHEN: College football players and concussions
  • WHERE: Concussions of college football players in the United States
  • WHY: Effects of concussions on college football players later in life
  • HOW: Searching sports databases and journals and medical magazines and newspapers

Research Question: What is the effect on adults of sports concussions received in childhood?

Broadening Image of magnifying glass (search icon) and text "sorry, no results found."

If you're not finding information on your topic, it might be too narrow and needs to be broadened. Consider removing a word or element from your research question/thesis/topic.

Image from Unbxd, all rights reserved. Used for educational purposes only under Fair Use.

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