ENGL101 Research Topic: Critical evaluation of gun control law in America

Creating a Research Question

1. The first step in the research process is choosing a topic that is not too broad or too narrow in scope. There are many strategies that can be used to define a solid topic. Here are a few suggestions that may help you identify an area of research that interests you:

A.Select a topic that interests you!!!

B.Consult reference sources, like encyclopedias or handbooks.

C.Use the Web to find background information.

D.Ask your instructor or a librarian to help you come up with ideas. The table below illustrates how a research question develops from a broad topic to a focused question. Follow the four examples down the columns to see how the questions develop. Then use the blank form provided below to develop your own research question.


Filter (theme)

Filter (place)

Filter (time)


Acid rain

Prevention strategies

Acid rain in the United



What can the United States do to prevent acid rain?

Commercial fishing

Fishing regulations

New England

What impact do fishing regulations have on commercial fishing in New England?



Vegetarianism as an environmental change agent

United states

Last ten years

How will adopting a vegetarian diet contribute to the health and restoration of the environment?

Choosing and Narrowing Research Topics for APA & MLA Essays

Choose preliminary topic (this is the pre-filtered topic)


Three steps to selecting a good topic:


a. Choosing [Personal interest] Explain your interest in topic:

b. [Motivated to write about/Prior learning/background knowledge] Explain what you already know about this topic:

2. Filtering – You can use the any or all of the listed filters here to focus your preliminary question. Place and time will not always be appropriate, but theme always will be.

a. What are some ideas you can filter by?

i. Theme

ii. Place

iii. Time

3. Questioning

a. Create a preliminary question based on choosing and filtering:

Evaluate the strength of your question using these three tests:

1. Debatable

a. [Other points of view exist? ] List here.

2. Plausible

a. [Supportable by valid evidence?] Explain how here.

3. Consequential

a. [Outcome is significant] Why is this a topic of significance?

Remember this exercise from the video we watched in class?

Your turn:


Filters: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Final Question: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________