How to Pick Interesting Topics for Research Papers

When you set out to write a research paper your first challenge will be choosing your topic. Below are some tips to help you pick a good topic:

  1. Pick something that you are actually interested in. The research will be a lot more relevant to you if you care about the topic in the first place.
  2. Narrow down the topic you select to something that is much more manageable. Almost every student picks a topic that is too big the first time around but that is why you have to narrow it down. If the topic is far too broad then you will find that there is just too much information out there and you won’t be able to bring focus to your paper. You can use the background reading for your topic to help you in limiting the overall scope of the paper.
  3. You can also review all of your previous lecture notes and your required textbooks to refresh your mind on the information that was covered in the course and what topics you might be able to glean from the texts.
  4. Talk over your assignment with others in your class and see if they can help you focus the topic by reviewing aspects of it that you perhaps did not consider before.
  5. Once you have done that it is time to ask yourself a few focusing questions including:

    • Why did you want to write on this topic? What is it about this topic that is of interest to you? What is your personal opinion about the issue?
    • Who provides information on this topic? Who is publishing that information? Who is actually influenced by this topic? Do you know of any professional organizations or any institutions which may be affiliated with this topic?
    • What are the core questions that revolve around this topic? Is the topic debatable? What other arguments might relate to the topic? Are there any viewpoints that you have failed to consider?
    • Where will the topic fall? Does it fall at the local level? Does it fall at the national level? Does it fall at the international level? Does the topic affect a specific location? Is it geographically based?
    • When did this topic become important? Is it a current issue? Is the topic a historical one? Does your topic require you to compare different periods in time?

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