Guide to Choosing a Research Paper Topic

Most college students dread writing research papers. However, the process of writing a research paper doesn’t have to be painful. While deciding upon a research topic can be tricky, consider yourself lucky that you have the freedom to choose. At least you have the flexibility to select a topic that will make the research process as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.

When choosing a research topic, the first order of business is considering the perimeters of your research assignment. A short oral presentation will require considerably less information than a 40-page paper. You should think not only how much information your assignment will require, but also how many different sources it calls for. Before committing to any topic, make sure that you can find at least ten various quality sources, which provide a broad range of information and viewpoints.

Your next step is to consider how easy it will be to obtain the information that you need. For example, will you be able to find information on your topic at the school library? Good research papers call for reputable sources, and random Internet websites alone will not be sufficient. Try doing a search of your library database on various topics that you are considering before narrowing it down.

A good research paper should also contain up-to-date information. If you can’t find any recent material relating to a topic, then you should probably cross it off your list.

It is also important to consider how much time you have to complete the assignment. Some broader or more complex topics will be complicated to research thoroughly in a short period, while other topics will be too simplistic if it is supposed to be an in-depth, semester-long project.

Once you’ve addressed the requirements of the assignment, you are ready to start brainstorming. You can get topic ideas from a variety of places, but one of the best places to start is with subjects that interest you or that you have some knowledge of already. If the topic can be nearly anything that you want it to be, such as it might be for a speech class, start by listing all of your interests and areas of knowledge. You can type keywords from your list into an Internet search engine, and you may come up with related ideas that you would never have thought of.