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ESL 25 (Leath) Immigration: Topics

Narrow your topic

When narrowing a topic, consider these questions:

  • Can you focus your project on a specific aspect of the topic?
  • Can you narrow your topic to a specific time period?
  • Can you narrow your topic to a specific event?
  • Can you narrow your topic to a specific geographic area?
  • Can you narrow your topic to a specific problem or question?


Sample Topic Narrowing Chart:



women's suffrage

Specific aspect:

delay in getting the vote

Specific time period:


Specific event:

19th amendment ratified in 1920

Specific geographic area:

United States

Specific problem/question:




Research Questions and Thesis Statements

Once you decide on a topic and have done some preliminary research, you need to come up with a research question and a thesis statement.

=> A research question is an open-ended beginning to your investigation. It is something you are truly curious about.

Example: Why did it take so long for American women to get the right to vote?

=> A thesis statement is your position or argument that points to the direction of your investigation. 

Example: Women got the right to vote so late because of their inability to organize effectively.

Broaden your topic

When broadening a topic, consider these questions:

  • Can you broaden your topic geographically?


Why was California among the first states to grant women the vote?

Broaden to: What characteristics did the states that first granted women the vote before the passage of the 19th amendment have in common?

  • Can you broaden your topic chronologically?


How did the American Civil War play a part in delaying women the right to vote?

Broaden to: How did the major events in the U.S. that took place from 1860 to 1920 delay women's right to vote?

  • Can you identify a larger problem or issue?


How was Margaret Sanger's work with family planning and reproductive rights received after the passage of the 19th amendment?

Broaden to: In what ways did the 19th amendment help promote economic, social, and personal advancements for women?


Keyword Searching to Narrow or Broaden Your Topic (Video)

Watch this video to learn how you can narrow or broaden your search by using the right keywords:

Topic Search Using Keywords (Green River Community College, Auburn, WA)