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Choose broad topics at first, but make attempts to narrow your ideas to something specific


Choose broad topics at first, but make attempts to narrow your ideas to something specific. Eventually you will need a narrow-enough topic you can work with for the rest of the semester.

Use these questions to help: What can you name as a problem? (don't try to PROVE something you don't have evidence to support). If you can't make a statement, ask questions (Is depression a serious problem among college students in the Maryland? or What help does Puerto Rico still need after Hurricane Maria? Are the people there still in danger? Etc.

Answer these questions FOR EACH TOPIC:

Part 1 (do this for each of your three topics)

  • Name the topic as some kind of statement and/or a question. (ex. Is there homelessness in Howard County, MD? What is being done about it? OR What is being done about e-waste in Maryland? OR the rise of suicide among teens--is this also a problem in the MD-DC area?).
          • Be careful to avoid judgement statements or ones that you try to prove right. Ex. Instead of "colleges/universities are greedy to charge so much tuition", try "the high cost of college is difficult for many students". Guiding/research questions (see below) would be: how is tuition set? What contributes to high tuition? How do most students pay for college/university? Etc.
  • Why are you interested in this? Why do you think it needs to be addressed?
  • How can you narrow it? Or How can you expand it?
  • Formulate some research questions related to the topic (see the example above). What do you want the research to tell you? (use these questions to help you look for sources) Try generating 5WH questions. Revisit the Assignment Guidelines for more ideas here.
  • What makes this a serious issue that is worth exploring for this class AND as something you think needs to be "solved"?
  • What REAL audience might make a good target for this message? Why them? Keep in mind that  "the government" is not a good audience (who are they? Can YOU reach them?) nor are people who already know about it/are acting to solve it are not who you are trying to reach.
  • Add other information that you've discovered, knowing that you will need to do more research.
  • CITE everything your borrow from other sources. These citations don't have to be perfect, but you DO need to indicate where you're getting ideas.

Part 2

Which of the three topics do you think you've settled on? Why (expand this to be detailed)? What makes it better than the others?

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