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Choosing a topic script SLIDE 1: Welcome to the tutorial on choosing a topic. SLIDE 2: In this tutorial, you’ll learn: the basic steps you’ll follow, some tips for generating broad topic ideas, and how to focus your topic so that it’s not too broad or too narrow. SLIDE 3: In general, when you’re choosing a topic, you’ll go through three steps. First, you’ll select a broad topic, like reality television. Then you’ll explore your topic to identify the specific issues associated with the broad topic. For the topic of reality television, the issues you could identify include the effects of reality tv on culture, audience perception of reality tv, and the origins of reality tv. Finally, you’ll select the key ideas within your topic that you’ll focus on. So you might decide to focus on the effects of reality tv on culture. If your instructor has assigned a topic to you, you’ll start with the second step, exploring the topic to identify the issues associated with it. Once you’ve explored your topic, then you’ll choose specific issues within the assigned topic you want to focus on. SLIDE 4: Sometimes the first step, picking a general topic, can be the most difficult. As you consider topics, it’s important to find a topic that interests you. To help you generate some ideas for your topic, you can: browse through current news articles, either in a newspaper, magazine or online news source. For example, you can browse the headlines in your local newspaper, view cnn.com, or check Google News to find a general topic that appeals to you. You can also browse through scholarly journals to get an idea of current areas of research in the field you are studying. Another place you may find inspiration is the textbook for your class; if there’s no textbook, you might look through your notes or the syllabus to review the broad topics you’ve covered in class. Another source, subject encyclopedias, can serve two purposes as you choose your topic. Subject encyclopedias, such as those available through Gale Virtual Reference Library, can help you find a broad topic that appeals to you. They can also help you identify specific issues associated with a topic as you explore your broad topic. Gale Virtual Reference Library is available through the Digital Library. QUIZ TBA SLIDE 5: Once you’ve chosen your broad topic and explored the issues associated with it, you need to focus your topic. You need to select key ideas associated with your topic that are broad enough that you can find enough information to write your paper, but narrow enough that you don’t have too much material to cover in the number of pages assigned and in the amount of time you have to write the paper. For example, if the broad topic you choose is censorship, an overly broad topic might be censorship in the United States. For this topic, you would have a lot of information to review, and you would not be able to cover the topic in sufficient depth unless you were writing an extremely long paper. In contrast, focusing on censorship in your local newspaper might be too narrow, without many articles or other information to base your paper on. A more reasonable topic would be the effect of censorship on high school newspapers. SLIDE 6: The true test of whether your topic is just right is when you start your research. If, when you start your research, you find too much information to go through or have too many issues to cover in the page limit assigned, you can add several criteria to narrow your topic. For example, say you originally chose internet filtering as your topic. You could choose to narrow this topic by adding a time restriction – for instance, by changing your topic to the current state of internet filtering efforts. Another way to narrow the topic is to add a place restriction, such as internet filtering in U.S. libraries. Adding population criteria also helps narrow your topic. You could change the original topic to the effects of internet filtering on children’s web access. A final restriction for narrowing your topic is viewpoint. This involves considering a single aspect of your topic, such as the legal, medical, economic, or political aspect. An example would be the constitutionality of internet filtering. SLIDE 7: On the other hand if you start your research, and you have problems finding enough information, you’ll need to broaden your topic. There are several ways you can broaden your topic. First, identify if there are any time, place, or population restrictions that you can remove; if there are several, start by removing the one that is least important to you, and check how many results you receive before removing additional restrictions. You can also add one or more viewpoint aspects to your topic, such as changing your focus from just the legal aspects of internet filtering to the legal and social aspects of internet filtering; alternatively, you can remove viewpoint restrictions altogether. You can also look at the other issues you found when exploring your broad topic, and add one of these issues to your topic. QUIZ TBA SLIDE 8: In this tutorial on choosing a topic, you learned The three steps you should go through when choosing a topic Tips for generating broad topic ideas and how to ensure that your topic isn’t too broad or too narrow. ********************************************************************* SECOND RECORDING: SLIDE 1: Welcome to the UT tutorial on choosing a topic. SLIDE 4: Another source, subject encyclopedias, can serve two purposes as you choose your topic. Subject encyclopedias, such as those available through Gale Virtual Reference Library, can help you find a broad topic that appeals to you. They can also help you identify specific issues associated with a topic as you explore your broad topic. Gale Virtual Reference Library is available in your UT databases collection.
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