When developing your topic, you'll probably find that you have a lot of questions. It's important to identify information gaps that may exist when you set out to focus your topic.
In Carlock's book Developing Information Literacy Skills, she encourages students to ask the following questions when identifying such gaps:
Carlock advises students to identify information gaps, or what you don't yet know, in the form of questions using how, who, when, where, what, and why. For example, if you've chosen social media as your topic, try asking yourself some questions that will help you identify those gaps. Try creating columns to illustrate what you do and do not know about your topic.
What I don't know
What do you know about your topic? What do you think you need to know? What have others said?
What I do know/what I think I need to know/what have others said
You might have a long list of items under each column. That's OK! Asking yourself these types of questions will help you identify areas of focus and help you narrow your topic to something that's more manageable.
Mind mapping is a tool you can use to develop a research question or topic you want to explore in greater depth. For example, after creating a mind map about genetically modified foods, you might ask:
After doing more research on your topic, your thesis statement will help you talk about specific points you're exploring in your paper.
Mind map for genetically modified foods
Mind map created with bubbl.us
There are many mind map tools out there on the internet. Below are a few of those tools that have a free version--all free versions will have some use limitations.
Databases, reference books, encyclopedias, handbooks, almanacs, and certain websites are all good starting points for finding background information, and can also help you narrow your topic.
Use the following sources to help you write your thesis statement: