If your topic is too broad, you'll be doing research for months and may have a much longer paper than you anticipated. If it's too narrow, you may be stuck doing last-minute research to fill in the gaps--or having to start from scratch.
Example: You are an agricultural economics major, and your professor asks you to write a 3-5 page paper on "fish."
You might use the following process to narrow your topic. Think of it as an upside-down triangle: you begin with a broad topic and bring it to a sharp point.
This is a good topic for a 3-5 page paper--you'll need to explain what noodling is, then explain how it is (or is not) an extreme sport.
Now that you've identified a topic, you can transform it into a thesis statement:
"Catfish noodling is an unconventional extreme sport that generates revenue for rural Mississippi communities."
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MSU's writing quality enhancement plan seeks to improve undergraduate student writing by implementing a writing across the curriculum model, using writing-to-learn strategies and formal writing instruction.
This list of books can help you to write a successful research paper.