Whether assigned a general issue to investigate, you are given a list of problems to study, or you have to make up your own research topic, it is important that the research problem that guides your study is not too broad, otherwise, it will be very difficult to adequately address the problem in the space and time allowed. You could experience a number of problems if your topic is too broad, including:
The most common challenge when beginning to write a research paper is narrowing down your topic. Even if your professor gives you a specific topic to study, it will almost never be so specific that you won’t have to narrow it down at least to some degree [besides, grading fifty papers that are all on exactly the same thing is very boring!].
A topic is too broad to be manageable when you find that you have too many different, and oftentimes conflicting and only remotely related, ideas about how to investigate the research problem. While you will want to start the writing process by considering a variety of different approaches to studying the problem, you will need to narrow the focus of your research at some point so don't attempt to do too much in one paper.
Here are some strategies to help focus your topic into something more manageable:
NOTE: Apply one of the above first to determine if that gives you a manageable study; combining multiple strategies risks creating the opposite problem--your topic becomes too narrowly defined.
Coming Up With Your Topic. Institute for Writing Rhetoric. Dartmouth College; Narrowing a Topic. Writing Center. University of Kansas; The Process of Writing a Research Paper. Department of History. Trent University.