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POLS 4256: Political Economy of Japan (Reimann): Selecting a Topic

Information and resources for students enrolled in POLS 4256: Political Economy of Japan.

Selecting and Defining Your Topic

1. Choose a topic, then narrow or broaden the topic as needed.

Your topic should be broad enough to allow you to find sufficient information, but narrow enough to answer a specific question.

A broad topic is likely to be unmanageable. If you are finding too much information about a topic, you may need to consider making the topic more specific.

Tips for Narrowing a Broad Topic:

  • Consider narrowing the topic to a specific aspect or sub-topic of the larger topic
  • Consider narrowing the topic to a specific time period
  • Consider narrowing the topic to a specific location or geographical area
  • Consider narrowing the topic by a targeted population or age group

A narrow topic may be too specific, too recent, or too locally confined, to return useful research results. Perhaps sufficient research has not been done on a particular aspect of the topic. If this is the case, you won't find enough information with which you write your paper. If that is the case you will need to adjust your topic accordingly or choose a new one.

Also, if a topic is too recent, books or journal articles may not be available, but newspaper or magazine articles may. Also, Web sites related to the topic may or may not be available.

2. State your topic as a question

Stating your topic as a question helps keep your research focused on the specific topic at hand. All the information that you locate using the library's search tools should help you answer the question or problem that you pose. 

Broad Topic Narrow Topic Focused Topic Research Question
Japan's declining birth rate Japan's declining birth rate and its impact on the Japanese economy Immigration as a solution to Japan's declining birth rate
Can the immigration of foreign workers provide a solution to the labor shortage caused by the declining birth rate in Japan?


Read the section on Keyword Searching...


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