How To Pick A Good Research Paper Topic

18 Jan How To Pick A Good Research Paper Topic

It has happened. The professor has assigned the often feared and dreaded research paper. In order to write a research paper and you know this must be done; you must first pick a topic. But how do you get started?

Research Paper Topic Choices

The first step is to examine your choices. Did your professor give you a list of topics or is she letting you choose your own topic? If you have a list of general topics you will still need to put a creative spin on the topic to make it interesting and to narrow down your paper’s focus. Many times professors will opt to let the students decide what their topic will be but sometimes this creates its own set of problems. The biggest problem is that the student feels at a loss as to what will make a good research topic or even how to pick a topic. The following techniques will help the students pick a research topic but ultimately it will be up to the student to pick a method that will work for him/her and to follow through and actually write the paper.

How To Pick A Good Research Paper Topic

Good Research Topic Picking Techniques

To begin to find a suitable research topic try one or more of the following techniques.

  • Brainstorm: Set a timer for five minutes and during those five minutes write down any topic idea that comes to mind while brainstorming
  • Magazine game: When you come up to a magazine aisle in a store what five magazines do you pick out to read
  • Encyclopedia: Browse a set of encyclopedias, but not only online encyclopedia. Libraries generally still have sets of encyclopedias. Look for a minimum of five topics that interest you.
  • Your knowledge base: What do you know or what should you know or what do you want to know about? Make a list of at least five topics.
  • Pick a topic and try to subtopic it into categories
  • Look for research questions with supporting evidence: Browse through technical journals related to your potential future career or to your area of study.
  • Title browse: This is similar to the magazine concept except go to a bookstore and go from section to section noticing what captures your attention and interest.
  • Consider the audience and the teacher’s instructions: If the teacher says not to write about X-rated topics then don’t write about X-rated topics.

Define the Topic As a Great Topic

The above techniques will give you a broad topic. In order to make it a suitable research paper topic, it needs to have an original slant or a creative twist. In addition, the topic may need to be narrowed down.

Begin by determining if the topic can be subdivided into several categories. For example, if the broad topic is “cats” subtopics could include dietary needs, grooming, types, wild vs. domestic and so on. Each subtopic should have a minimum of three significant points to discuss. In the cat example, for dietary needs, this could be further developed into a newborn diet, mature diet, and active cat diets.

Next, you will need to ask questions. Is there a unique twist or concept connected to the topic? Is there a local connection or resources or a debate connected with the topic? What is the purpose of this paper? Continue asking questions of this nature until you have what you feel will make a solid and expandable topic.

How To Pick A Good Research Paper Topic

Research Paper Source Materials

The final step in picking a good research topic is to consider the availability of resource materials. Not only will you need to have a minimum of three sources they will need to be quality sources. A quality source is one that is recognized as an authority on the subject. Your teacher will probably give you a minimum of necessary sources. Follow your teacher’s instructions and make sure you have sufficient sources for your research paper.

A summary of the process of picking a good research paper topic is to first identify your area of interests. This will likely produce a broad category. Narrow down the topic and identify if sufficient and quality resources are available. Then craft a unique or creative approach to the topic.

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