How to Broaden Your Topic

Eeek! You’re working on a paper about the impact of Billy Ray Cyrus sales on the success of iTunes in 2005, and your paper is due in 2 days, and you can’t find any information.

What do you do?

Step 1: sign up for the Homework Tree planner so you're never again starting a paper 2 days before it’s due.

Step 2: Broaden your topic.

Here’s how.

Take each key part of your topic and go out in concentric circles until you find something interesting (or just plain easy to find information on):

  • key players: is this figure a part of a larger, identifiable group? Or are there other key players who made a more significant contribution to the topic?
    e.g. Focus on Bono instead of Billy Ray Cyrus. Or focus on several country music stars instead of only Billy Ray Cyrus.


  • key issues: is this particular issue a part of a larger movement?
    e.g. focus on music and the internet instead of just iTunes


  • time period: does broadening your time period allow you to include some additional interesting perspectives?
    e.g. You could broaden the timeline to 1999 to include the rise of Napster and its role in setting the stage for iTunes.


Final tips
  • When in doubt, ask the librarian. They looove to help.

  • Beware to only broaden as much as is absolutely necessary, or it will become too general and look like a tenth grader wrote it.


This information was compiled from resources from UCLA, Duke University, and plain common sense.