Brainstorming Strategy: Broadening Your Topic

Brainstorming is the process by which ideas are produced using techniques like concept mapping, free-writing, etc. Choosing a topic can be a difficult process when starting an assignment, writing a paper, or working on an oral presentation. Brainstorming can be used to choose a topic, narrow down a broad topic, or even broaden a too narrow topic. For instance, you may need to broaden your topic if resources on or related to your topic are scarce or you are unable to expand your topic.


Keywords are specific words or phrases that relate to your main idea or research question. They are used in brainstorming to determine search terms to use in finding research or narrowing down a topic. Keywords can be specific search words found in your research question, synonyms, phrases, or jargon that are common in the field of study.

How to Broaden Your Topic

1. Start by writing down your topic.


What are the effects of using Instagram as an adolescent on daily social behavior in young adulthood?

2. Next, identify the main ideas or terms.



social behavior

young adulthood

3. Using the main ideas, are there any terms you can remove or make more general?



social behavior

4. Once you have determined which words you’d like to remove, combine the remaining words to create a broader topic.

Updated research question: What are the effects of using Instagram on the behavior of adolescents?

5. Now, use these keywords and phrases to start searching for sources using the Grand Valley State University Libraries online databases to complete your assignment.

Information adapted from the GVSU Libraries Subject Guides.

Meet with a Consultant

Have other questions? Research consultants can help! We specialize in brainstorming topics, finding sources, reading scholarly materials, and evaluating research. 

Stop by the Knowledge Market during open hours or make an appointment to talk with a research consultant.

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Page last modified August 24, 2022