- By Jason Bacot
- Published 11/29/2010
Sometimes instructors assign topics for research papers, and other times they may allow you to choose topics within a reasonable range for what your class covers. If you are faced with choosing a topic and don’t know where to begin, here are five ideas that will help you. While you may not want to use any of them, perhaps you’ll be able to use them to develop ideas of your own for a great research paper topic. If you’re allowed to choose, select a topic for your research paper that you care about, so you’ll be motivated to do the necessary research to support your reasoning. At the same time, it’s sometimes good to avoid topics about which you feel very strongly, as you may not be able to be as impartial as necessary when compiling your research. You should also get your instructor’s approval for your topic before you begin your research. Here are 5 possible topics for research papers: 1. Is it possible to rehabilitate felons? Should rehabilitation be a goal of the penal system? 2. What types of regulations of smoking in public places make sense and promote health? 3. Do huge salaries in professional sports leagues have a positive or negative impact on the athletes and their sports? 4. Should high school students be required to have financial education classes before graduating? 5. Should adoption records be open or remain sealed?
When you choose a research paper topic, you will need to come up with a thesis statement on a particular aspect of tha
t topic. For example, a thesis statement might read: “Because of the complexities of modern financial management, high school students should be educated in the basics of budgeting, saving, and investing before they graduate.” Once you have your thesis statement, you have specific points to research with respect to your topic. In the example of the thesis statement above, you could examine what budgeting skills are necessary for a working adult, reasons for and ways to save, and why a plan for long term investment is beneficial. Be sure to follow your instructor’s guidelines on how and where you are allowed to do your research. The availability of information is greater than ever before, which is a good thing, but it means that finding high quality information is a bit more challenging than it used to be. Use whatever resources you are allowed, and don’t limit yourself to one library book or website. Some topics will require you to find the latest research, while other topics are more “evergreen” and can be well-researched with older sources. Be aware that some instructors will limit you to materials that date from a specified year to the present. Whatever guidelines you’re given for sources you’re allowed to use, research your topic as broadly as those sources permit. You never know when a statistic or a study from an obscure, but reliable source will turn out to be very important in crafting your research paper’s narrative.
You’ll find that once you’ve selected an interesting topic for your research paper, the task seems far less daunting, and the steps necessary to writing a good paper will be much more manageable.