Finding Your Subject-the Narrowing Challenge
Let’s Think Together for a Moment
I know that you will be working this semester on selecting a topic for research in WGS 170. I have some suggestions you may want to consider as you do choose a subject. In a nutshell here they are:
· When trying to pick a topic for a project in WGS 170, start with an interest that you already have. Ask yourself: Did I read something for this class that really got me curious and wanting to know more? Did I come into this class because of an interest in gender studies? What specifically catches my attention? What would I actually LIKE to know more about?
· After you determine a genuine interest, see if you can state it out loud (to yourself) as a topic. Listen to this example: “I am really interested in young fathers. (This is because I’ve known some guys who became dads early in life and they took it seriously.) Now I need to say this as a topic. So I want to study young fathers’ experiences in the first few years of fatherhood.”
· So once you have a topic, proceed to search for a specific question (or questions) you are interested in. Here’s a first try: How do fathers aged 19-22 care for their child? How do they work out child care when they have to be away? Do they have a good relationship with the mother of the child? Do they work and go to school too? How do they work that out?
· So from all those questions is there one overall that would be a question worth asking? “What are some of the challenges a young father has being a dad, student, employee, son, or boyfriend of their child’s mother? What are some rewards and problems that young dads have?
“But I don’t have any ideas!”
If you aren’t interested at first in one particular thing, what can you do to get some ideas? Here are some thoughts:
· Look at your class readings again and see if there’s something you missed that you could use.
· Talk to others in the class and brainstorm about subjects relating to gender that are in the news.
It occurs to me that choosing a subject (and eventually a question for research) is an opportunity to learn something new. If you can see it that way, your perspective may change and something really good may present itself.
Reference: Booth, Wayne C. et al The Craft of Research, 3rd ed. University of Chicago Press, 2008.
Take a look at this book if you are interested in further reading.
Worksheet, including Keyword Searching Tips
Interest- write some general ideas here
Topic or subject (possible subject) here
Keywords and synonyms that relate: (Visit this site for a guide to keyword searching:)
To take a big subject and shape it into a workable question try:
Space to write out some test questions: