How to Write a Research Paper: Select a Topic

A step-by-step guide.

Select

...a topic that interests you and will hold your attention. 

It'll make the research process more enjoyable.

Image source:  US Dept. Agriculture.  CC BY 2.0.  Wikimedia Commons.

Understand

Before selecting a topic or starting your research, make sure you understand the assignment and its requirements. 

Consider the following:

  • Have you been assigned a topic?  Can you pick your own?
  • How many pages/words do you need to write? How long is your presentation?
  • Do you need to include specific types of sources? (e.g. scholarly journal, book, etc.)
  • When is the assignment due? How much time do you have to research?
  • Is currency of information important?

Always clarify questions you may have with your professor.

Stuck?

 Can’t think of a topic to research? 

  • Scan your textbook for broad topic ideas
  • Discuss potential topics with your instructor, a librarian, or a classmate

Image source: Train stuck in snow.  1881.  Elmer and Tenney.  Public Domain.  Wikimedia Commons.