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Library Research Guides
Trinity College
Library & Information Technology Services

AMST-223 The Prison and the Public Humanities (Camp)

Fall 2022

Refining your research question

Refining your research question from a very broad topic to narrower one can be a challenging process, and sometimes difficult and frustrating. 

However, it is a critical process, because a refined research question allows you to explore a narrower topic in much greater depth. 

There are several ways to refine a research question:

  • Read some information in a reference source or even on Wikipedia to get a sense of the scope of the topic and start identifying areas that you might want to focus on
  • Think about readings and class discussions. Do any of these spark a curiosity to explore?
  • Then read more contextual information from scholars who have analyzed and interpreted your topic or topic areas. This further can help narrow the scope
  • Collect names, dates, places, and events that you can later use as keywords and search terms in your research
  • Talk to your group members, Professor Camp, or a research librarian. Sometimes just talking through possibilities leads to very fruitful results 

Refining a research question is an ongoing process, which takes time, but you will get to where you want to be!