Defining & Focusing Your Topic

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Read this tutorial and answer the questions on each screen. There is a link to a printable worksheet that will help you focus your topic on the last screen.

You will save time and energy if you have a clear idea of what you want to find before you dive into library research. The following steps will help you to define and focus your topic and help make your library research more productive. 

Step 1: Read your assignment carefully, ask questions of it, and break it down into parts.

  • What is the purpose of the assignment? What is it about? Write down what you think your instructor wants you to learn from the assignment and what you want to take away from the experience.

  • How long is the assignment? Write down the number of pages you are being asked to write.

  • What types of sources are required for the assignment? Write down the type of sources you are required to use and those you want to explore (i.e., books, scholarly articles, popular articles, statistics, and/or reports).



Understanding the purpose and requirements of your assignment will help you collect appropriate library resources.

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