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U.S. History Paper: Step 1: Task Definition

Essential Questions

  • How much do I already know about my topic?

  • What general information do I need to learn about my topic in order to begin my in-depth research?

  • How can I narrow down my general research topic into a more manageable topic?

Google Document- Step One: Task Definition

Key Terms

Term Definition
Keywords Important terms that will assist you in locating resources for your topic; in a search engine these are the words that the search engine will look for in a source
Brainstorming Taking time to get all of your ideas down on paper about topics that you are interested in, and how these topics can be narrowed down to create a manageable topic. This can be a collaborative process, and done with the assistance of reference materials, teachers, and friends. Creating a brainstorming map or chart is a great strategy for narrowing down a topic. 
Reference Sources These are background articles about a topic. They share the basic information and facts about a topic, and can be helpful when creating keyword lists and brainstorming. They are usually found in Encyclopedias and reference books that offer general overviews on a topic. 


Tips for Narrowing Down a Topic

Strategies from Virginia Tech Library: 

  • Focus on a specific aspect of the topic
  • Focus on a specific time period
  • Focus on a specific event
  • Focus on a specific geographic area
  • Focus on a specific problem or question

Click HERE to learn more!

Locating Background and Reference Resources