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How To Pick Interesting Research Paper Topics: A Good Guide


One of the most challenging things that new college students encounter is being given the freedom to pick their topics. Far too often students are accustomed to being handed their topic and writing on it without thinking. Little effort is put into developing a good topic or thesis, because it is all handed to them.

But as students advance in their academic career they will find more and more cases where teachers assign a term paper or research paper, but allow the students to pick the topic on which they will write.

If you are given the opportunity to pick a topic yourself—and it is an opportunity, not a terrible occurrence—then you should consider the following tips:

  1. Tip #1:
  2. You want to first review your data. In order to get the creative juices flowing you need to review the assignment details and ensure you completely understand the parameters of your topic. You may be allowed to choose the topic, but there may be restrictions such as a certain author, a particular time period, etc… Knowing these small details can help you pick a topic that fits with your project.

  3. Tip #2:
  4. You want to start off with some brainstorming thereafter. Take some time to review your course notes, previous lectures, or to look over your course textbooks for ideas. Look for things that piqued your interest, or a topic that you wanted to learn more about but couldn’t at the time. These will make for the most interesting topics for your research paper.

    Other brainstorming methods include a free write. To do this, set a timer for, say, five minutes. During that time, you are to write continually without breaking. The purpose is to write everything that pops into your mind. It is a stream of consciousness exercise that can help you to shake loose the ideal topic for your research paper.

    You can also try mind mapping exercises to come up with great ideas.

  5. Tip #3:
  6. Make sure you have a handful of potential ideas. Conduct preliminary research to determine if these ideas are viable. This means, you type the keywords into a search engine and see what academic and scholarly articles and books pop up. If there is no academic information out there, it will be quite difficult to write a research paper on the subject.

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