What Type Of Research Topic Would Be Of Interest To You The topic I want to choose will be Pain Management In The Cognitively Impaired Children.  The i

What Type Of Research Topic Would Be Of Interest To You The topic I want to choose will be Pain Management In The Cognitively Impaired Children. 

The instructions are below  as follows :

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen, this discussion forum is based on your readings from Chapters one and two from your course text. What type of research topic would be of interest to you? Elaborate on factors that motivated you and what are you seeking?

Make sure that you select a topic that is something that you are passionate about. Remember this is a subject matter that you will investigate for the duration of our semester.

Let us also look at whether or not you want to conduct qualitative versus quantitative methods for your research project. Please take a look at the following article that may provide you with some guidance.

 As a reminder, all discussion posts must be minimum 250 words, references must be cited in APA format 6th Edition, and must include minimum of 2 scholarly resources published within the past 5-7 years. WRITIN WRITING & RESEARCH G ANCH
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405RADIOLOGIC TECHNOLOGY March/April 2012, Vol. 83/No. 4

Developing and Narrowing a Topic
Tricia Leggett
Melissa Jackowski

“Writing & Research” discusses
issues of concern to writers and
researchers and is typically writ-
ten by members of the Editorial
Review Board. Comments and
suggestions should be sent to

research. Another search engine to
examine is About.com, which has vari-
ous Web pages that provide topics such
as Best Site of the Day, How to Find
Anything on the Web, and Web Search
101 (websearch.about.com).

Defining the Scope
Once the topic is selected, your scope

will be determined by how much detail
you want to incorporate. It is important
to evaluate the chosen topic to conclude
if it is too broad or too narrow. If too
narrow, it becomes difficult to find
supportive literature or affects only an
extremely small audience. A topic is
broad enough if there is a definite effect
on a specific audience.

One of the most common errors is hav-
ing an overly broad topic with too many
different ideas (eg, thousands of sources
appear in your search). To narrow a topic,
first ask who, what, where, when, why, and
how about the topic. These questions can
guide you to specific points within the
selected topic. From these basic questions,
use more directed, formal rhetorical areas
to develop a specific focus.

■ Analyzing a definition can help
you define the topic.

■ A comparison provides associa-
tions to other topics.

■ Relationships promote examina-
tion of possible causes and effects.

■ Testimony asks the researcher to
determine the current body of
knowledge available on the theme.

Looping is a technique that can limit
or narrow a broad topic. With looping,
the researcher begins with a 5-minute
free write on the topic, which gener-
ates an idea of interest. That idea then
focuses the next round of free writing,
inspiring a more limited idea of interest.
This process repeats until you narrow
the research topic and derive the prob-
lem statement.2

The last method to narrow a topic
is topic cross. This visual strategy helps
bring out common themes. In the

When you decide to do research
writing, preliminary development is
critical for success. First, find ideas for
a research topic. It sounds simple, but
selecting a topic and developing the
problem statement or hypothesis is fun-
damental to the entire research project.
Look around; topic ideas are every-
where. Are you interested in a particular
subject? Was there an issue you expe-
rienced in the clinical setting? Do you
have an intuition about something, but
need specific data to confirm it? Your
colleagues may even have suggestions
for areas of investigation, and collabora-
tive research efforts are always welcome!
Most importantly, because you will be
spending a significant amount of time
exploring a subject, select one that truly
interests you.

Topic Selection
When determining a topic, you can

generate ideas using brainstorming,
free writing, and clustering (or concept
mapping), to name a few approaches.
In addition, you can use many search
engines — besides Google (www.google
.com) — to identify credible sources,
such as books, journals, and websites.
You can ascertain if there is a significant
body of knowledge to work with or if
there is a gap in the literature where
original research is needed (see Box 1).

One search engine is Yippy (www.
yippy.com), a metasearch tool that
clusters search results from a variety of
sources and directories. It is a worthy
tool to use when initially investigating
viable topics for research. Kartoo (www
.kartoo.com) is a bit different, present-
ing search results visually rather than
in text format. Infomine (infomine
.ucr.edu) is a “virtual library of Internet
resources relevant to faculty, students,
and research staff at the university
level.”1 Its databases may include elec-
tronic journals and books, bulletin
boards, mail lists, online library card
catalogs, directories, and published


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Advanced Search Techniques
With some topic awareness, you can begin with a

basic search that is broader and more useful in topic
development. Using an advanced search with limiters
to refine results is the next step. A limiter restricts or
narrows a search based on certain criteria, including
year, article or document type, journal or text name,
full text, or subject (see Figure).

first step, brainstorm pertinent words or phrases that
come to mind when thinking of the broad topic. Next,
determine which words and phrases are most appeal-
ing and organize them hierarchically from broad to
specific on a vertical axis. Once you select an accept-
able topic, provide a list of words and phrases relevant
to the identified topic (horizontal axis) to develop a
workable topic.2

Box 1
Outline for Comprehensive Literature Reviews

Define and Refine Your Topic
■ Choose a research topic of interest, think critically about it, and formulate a title.
■ Start a general review (browse textbooks, encyclopedias, journals, and Web pages).
■ Identify the major ideas, issues, and researchers.
■ Define the time period (ie, how far back do you need to search the literature?).
■ Formulate keywords, main concepts, and related terms; use a thesaurus and subject headings.
■ Craft search statements for indexes, databases, and catalogs; use Boolean operators, truncation, etc;

record your methods.
■ Narrow or broaden your topic as appropriate based on literature search results.

Search All Relevant Sources Comprehensively and Efficiently
■ Use journal indexes, databases, and e-journals to find citations of articles and full articles.
■ Use bibliographies from relevant journal articles, books, etc.
■ Use citation indexes (eg, Web of Science or Google Scholar) to find the most cited articles on your topic.
■ Identify and browse current issues of journals relevant to your topic.
■ Set up e-mail and RSS alerts to journal tables of contents, indexes, and Web pages.
■ Explore grant databases (eg, National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health), newspaper

indexes (eg, LexisNexis Academic and Newsbank), and Internet discussion groups, listservs, blogs, etc.
■ Browse library and book catalogs to find books, government documents, media materials, theses, and

■ Use Web search engines.
■ Talk to experts (eg, scientists, scholars, and librarians) at institutions.
■ Reference other literature guides.

Find, Evaluate, and Manage the Information
■ Analyze your database search results (citations) and revise or improve your search statement (balance

comprehensiveness and precision).
■ Understand the scholarly research and peer-review publication processes.
■ Evaluate the type of information found and its relevance to your topic (eg, determine the source, author

credentials, objectivity, accuracy, and currency).
■ Retrieve the information source from the database or library.
■ Critically read and analyze articles.
■ Gather, store, and annotate relevant citations.

Synthesize the Literature and Integrate It Into Your Writing
■ Choose the appropriate type and style of publication and presentation.
■ Move back and forth between writing and further literature research.

Modified with permission from Brown BN. Research methods for comprehensive science literature reviews. Issues in Science and
Technology Librarianship website. www.istl.org/09-spring/experts1.html. Published spring 2009. Accessed January 13, 2012.

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plural terms or use
of the same stem (eg,
carcinogenesis* would
yield carcinogenesis,
carcinogenetic agents,
etc). A wildcard, often a
question mark, permits
searching for terms
with variant spellings or
plural (eg, col?r would
yield color or colour).3

Proximity operators
help locate 1 word with-
in a certain distance of
another word. The sym-
bols generally used are
“w” for within and “n”
for near. For example,
“television n2 violence”
could produce results
of television violence or
violence on television;
however, searching for
“Franklin w2 Roosevelt”
would produce results
of Franklin Roosevelt,
but not Roosevelt

Phrase searching
involves enclosing spe-
cific terms or phrases
in quotation marks to
ensure the search will
keep those words as a
group in the specific
order provided.

It is important to combine several techniques to
narrow your search effectively (see Box 2). Perhaps the
selected topic is osteosarcoma, for example. This topic
is too broad to research everything, so a specific aspect
of osteosarcomas would be better. Pediatric osteosarco-
mas could be pursued, but this is still widely published
on and the topic can be narrowed even further. A bet-
ter topic could be the development of osteosarcomas
in pediatric patients after radiation exposure. Now ask:
Is the topic interesting? Is there significant literature
available on this topic? Is there a specific intended
audience? Is it manageable for the intended research
project? Because the answer to these questions is yes,
the topic is sufficiently narrow.

Other tools to develop a research topic are Boolean
search operators, truncation symbols, proximity opera-
tors, and phrase searching. Boolean operators connect
and define the relationship between the search words
and include and, or, and not. A search with and quali-
fies that all the terms provided in the search must be
contained in the results; or means that just 1 of the
provided terms needs to be present in the results;
any words following not will be excluded from search
results. These are applicable when using database
searches such as CINAHL or PubMed and may not be
functional in all searches.

Truncation symbols permit you to search vari-
ous sources easily. An asterisk allows for searching of

Figure. Planning a search of science literature databases. Used with permission from Brown BN. Research
methods for comprehensive science literature reviews. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship website.
www.istl.org/09-spring/experts1.html. Published spring 2009. Accessed January 13, 2012.


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comprehensively to become an expert on what has been
published on your topic. Then you can articulate how
your new research will fill a gap in the literature.

Comprehensively Search the Literature
To be sure you search your topic thoroughly, con-

sider all of the search strategies discussed previously.
Once you have developed the topic, write down a spe-
cific topic statement and determine keywords associat-
ed with it. They will become the search terms for your
formal database search.

It is important to consider synonyms of each key-
word so you do not miss any important articles written
on your topic. For example, if 1 of your key terms is
“radiographer”, you must remember that this job title
has changed throughout the years and older articles
published about radiographers may have used the
terms “radiologic technologist,” “x-ray technologist,”
“radiology technician,” or “x-ray tech.” In this case, it

Additional Considerations
Writing and research is a continual refinement pro-

cess. Typically, the researcher performs searches on
the selected topic, evaluates the results, adapts search
strategies, narrows or broadens the topic, reviews and
synthesizes the literature, and integrates the informa-
tion into a research manuscript. Knowing when to stop
the search process can be as challenging as initiating
it. When you discover credible resources repeatedly in
a variety of sources, be assured the topic has been well
searched and developed. And who knows, your manu-
script could spawn new or additional research.

Research submitted for publication must fill a gap
and add to the existing body of knowledge to be consid-
ered significant. When determining a new researchable
problem, consider whether the research question or
methods of answering it are original and not published
previously. When narrowing the topic, you must make
every effort to search, analyze, and map the literature

Box 2
Improving Bibliographic Database Search Results

If Your Database Search Produces No Citations
■ Check for misspellings.
■ Check for terms that are too specific or unlikely to be used by an author.
■ Check for incorrect or missing field terms or limiters.
■ Ask yourself: Can I expect to find articles with these terms in the title, abstract, or subject headings?
■ Check assumptions (eg, Are you in the right database?)

If Your Database Search Produces Too Few Citations
■ Drop multiword phrases and use and between words instead.
■ Decrease the use of the and operator or the number of concepts searched.
■ Increase the number of synonyms or alternative terms (combined with or).
■ Use the scientific name and the common name (eg, “wolves or canis lupus”).
■ Use a search term appropriate to the database (subject headings/descriptors).
■ Use a broader search term; use a thesaurus.
■ Search earlier or more years of the database.
■ Search a different database.

If Your Database Search Produces Too Many Citations
■ Decrease the number of synonyms by choosing the most specific subject headings or the most relevant

■ Increase the number of search concepts with and.
■ Do not search by full text (ie, change the field limiter to keyword).
■ Limit search by field (eg, restrict search to terms found only in the article title).
■ Limit search to peer-reviewed articles, articles in English, etc.
■ Limit search by time period to the past 5 years.
■ Exclude less relevant concepts with not.

Modified with permission from Brown BN. Research methods for comprehensive science literature reviews. Issues in Science and
Technology Librarianship website. www.istl.org/09-spring/experts1.html. Published spring 2009. Accessed January 13, 2012.

409RADIOLOGIC TECHNOLOGY March/April 2012, Vol. 83/No. 4

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list each article and key findings. The purpose of this
documentation, analysis, and mapping is to determine
similarities and differences in the published literature.
You must become an expert on the gaps and discrepan-
cies in what has been published so you can explore a
new significant research problem.

Once you have gone through the steps described

previously, you will be able to make a case for how your
research topic will add to the existing body of litera-
ture. An original research topic must answer the ques-
tion, “So what?” The audience should recognize your
topic as significant, new, and relevant. It should also
answer the “Who cares?” question. As an author, you
must know who your audience is and consider what is
important to them throughout the topic development,
original research, and writing process.

Developing and narrowing a topic is a process (see
Box 3). It takes much work but yields great reward and
satisfaction when you see the process to completion.

1. Boswell W. Use the Web to find research paper topics.

About.com website. http://websearch.about.com/od
/referencesearch/a/research_topics.htm Accessed January
13, 2012.

2. Research considerations. Colorado State University web-
site. http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/processes/topic
/pop15d.cfm. Accessed January 13, 2012.

3. Choosing the right database. Oceanside Library website.
Accessed January 12, 2012.

4. Proximity operators. University System of Georgia Online
Library Learning Center website. www.usg.edu/galileo

would be important to use all of these terms separated
by the Boolean operator or to find all articles written
about this group of professionals.

Choose the Correct Databases
When conducting a scholarly search, search the cor-

rect databases. In health care research, take your key-
words and search a minimum of PubMed (www.ncbi.
nlm.nih.gov/pubmed), CINAHL (www.cinahl.com),
and Google Scholar (scholar.google.com). Also, work
with a reference librarian to assist in choosing other
databases that may hold articles related to your subject.

Document All Searches
Searching a topic comprehensively takes time. To

avoid wasting time by duplicating your efforts, record
every search you do and include date of search, data-
base searched, keywords and search strategies used,
and the number of results. By analyzing your records,
you can see which keywords and strategies are helping
narrow or broaden your search. A reference librarian
can be of more help if you share your logs so he or she
can see how you have searched previously.

Evaluate Articles for Topic Relevance
Once you have the best search strategy in place,

determine which articles are relevant to your topic
statement. You may find that your best search strat-
egy produces 200 articles. To further narrow that list,
simply look at the titles. Many of the articles likely are
not related to your intended topic. Once you have nar-
rowed that list, read the abstracts of the articles still in
your list. From the abstracts, you can determine which
articles relate to your topic and then you have your
final reference list.

Analyzing and Mapping the Literature
Now that you have your comprehensive list of

articles related to your topic, read them all, looking
for themes and evaluating the findings of each article.
It is important to create a summary of each article,
including the full citation, key findings, information
about the methods used, and any flaws you find in that
specific study. As you do that for each article, common
themes may emerge; note them on each summary as
well. Then group articles into common themes as you
create your outline. It is also a good idea to include
page numbers next to each theme so you can find that
information easily when you begin writing. You can
even create a map in the form of a flowchart or table to

Box 3
Common Questions to Test Proposed
Research Topic

■ Does this topic really interest me?
■ Do I know enough about it now to plan and write

the research manuscript? Have I researched the
subject matter comprehensively?

■ Is the topic manageable? Is it sufficiently nar-

■ Is it pertinent to a specific audience? Does it
answer the question “Who cares?”

■ Does it answer the “So what” question? Is the topic
new, relevant, and significant?


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/skills/unit04/primer04_10.phtml. Accessed January 15,

Tricia Leggett, DHEd, R.T.(R)(QM), is the radiography
program director and an associate professor at Zane State
College in Zanesville, Ohio.

Melissa Jackowski, EdD, R.T.(R)(M), is an assistant
professor in the radiologic science division at the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Both authors are members of the Radiologic Technology
Editorial Review Board.

Copyright of Radiologic Technology is the property of American Society of Radiologic Technologists and its

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