UTS Library

60207 Research Methods: Narrowing a topic

In this guide:

Narrowing a topic

After you choose an interesting topic, you need to gather information on the broader topic to explore new possibilities and to help narrow your topic.

Gather background information

  • Use reference sources to get a general overview, e.g. AccessScience.
  • For medical related topics, search in MeSH Browser and look at MeSH Tree Structures to find broader and narrower concepts.
  • Find some review articles from a database, e.g. Web of Science.

Make a concept table
    Topic: The effect of ocean acidification on coral reefs

Main terms


ocean acidification

 coral reefs


impact, affect, influence



Related terms

calcification of coral skeletons, coral mortality, coral survival, coral recovery, coral settle, coral fertility, bioerosion

low PH, CO2, sea water

scleractinian coral, calcified corals, naked coral, Great Barrier Reef, Caribbean Coral Reefs

 • Ask yourself:
- What subtopics relate to the broader topic?
- What questions do these sources raise?
- What do you find interesting about the topic?

Concept Mapping: A diagram or graphical tool that visually represents relationships between concepts and ideas. 
- Place your main topic or term in a central position
- Create lines out to related terms, including what connects them to the lines.

Watch video on How to Create a Concept Map using Paper, Microsoft Word or Google Drive