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The Research Pyramid

posted: 10.1.07 by Barclay Barrios

One of the perennial problems I find students have with research is choosing a topic of appropriate scope—not too broad and not too narrow. To help students find the right focus, have them review the material on choosing a research topic in the handbook. Then have them make a “research pyramid” for their topics by imagining the broadest possible version of their topic and then making it more and more refined as it nears a top of over-specificity. Students can then determine what level of the pyramid would make the best topic. For example, the base of a pyramid might be immigration and the very top might be Indian immigrants in Silicon Valley. Testing each level of the pyramid with a quick database search at the library will help students determine which level provides the best balance of material and focus.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Finding Sources, Research, Teaching with Technology
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