If you've gotten this far with your topic, chances are you have identified a topic with a feasible scope. If, however, you feel like you've painted yourself into a corner and are not sure how to pull off your paper, you might need to reconsider your original research question. This is your permission to step back from your topic and an invitation to go back through steps 1-4 to be sure you're on the right track. Sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees, which is a weird expression, but what I mean is that we get bogged down in the details and fail to see the big picture. If you are experiencing any of these metaphors involving paint or trees, now would be a great time to visit your professor during office hours or to make an appointment with me, your librarian, for a research consultation.
If you're not sure you need an appointment, at least go back through the 'Questions to Refine Your Topic' in Step 1 and be sure you're not missing a key subtopic in the question you're investigating.
If you like the idea of tracking your research, here's a sample to give you an idea of what that might look like:
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