You are in university, and you have been asked to write a research essay. And you know that it has become a bit of a deal as you aren’t in school anymore – I mean, you aren’t allowed to deliver an essay full of “I think” anymore.
And one of the things that will define the quality of your research paper is the topic. Obviously, everything will go wrong if you pick something that you shouldn’t.
But how to know that you are on the wrong path? This is why you should be considering the tips below before doing anything else.
# 1 – Look for a topic that you enjoy
Of course, in an ideal world, you would only write about what you love, but we all know that it is not always possible.
Still, you are going to spend a considerable amount of time getting your research paper ready. So you can imagine how hard it will be if you just hate the topic from the start.
That is to say that you should, at least, choose something that you are interested in learning. Otherwise, your paper (and your mind) will suffer.
# 2 – Look for a topic that you understand
Another thing that you should consider is your level of understanding of the topic. If it sounds like rocket science to you (and you aren’t a student of Rocket Science), you probably should pick something else.
You will need to be familiar at least with the basics if you want to be able to develop a paper about anything, really. And as you know, you certainly don’t have time enough to learn it from scratch and still deliver your paper on time.
# 3 – Have a look at the trends
If you are finding hard to choose your topic, you should have a look at the trends and latest news in your area of expertise. Have a look at academic papers, scientific journals, specialised magazines, and other online and offline publications that can let you know what are the hottest topics at the moment.
When you find something that grabs your attention, read it. Then try to make connections with things that you already know. Sooner than you think, you will trigger your inspiration and find your own topic.
# 4 – Consider the relevance of the topic
One thing that you need to think is how relevant your topic is for the academic university. Not that you need to figure out something unique and 100% original – except if you are preparing your doctorate’s final thesis, of course.
But you are in university now, and you are expected to spend your time making a contribution, not just practising your writing skills. And don’t think that it doesn’t apply to all subjects. Even if you are trying to figure out how to write a history research paper, you still should pick a topic from the past that has some kind of impact on our lives nowadays.
# 5 – Try narrowing it down
Sometimes, the best way to choose a topic is by narrowing a broader one down. It can be highly recommendable if you were given a topic by your professor, but you don’t think you can write about it as it is. Instead, you can pick one angle, aspect, or period related to the subject, so you can explore it better and in much greater detail.
# 6 – Brainstorm with friends
If you are feeling completely stuck, try some brainstorming with friends or family. Talking about it can help your brain to make connections and wake up ideas that you no longer remember. You can just talk about things that interest you, or maybe something that you read or watched. Or something that happened in class. It should do the trick for you.
# 7 – Talk to your professor
But if the situation is getting complicated, and you are pressured by a deadline, you probably should go and talk to your professor. They usually are happy to help their students when they are honestly in need of assistance. But don’t go empty-handed. Let them know what you have done so far, and the ways you have tried to apply so to figure it out by yourself. This way you won’t sound lazy.
# 8 – Make sure that your topic meets the requirements
And least but not last, it is important that you check if your topic meets the requirements. It will be worthless if you go through it all so to find out that your chosen idea has nothing to do with what your professor is expecting to receive. So make sure that you have a look at the instructions given to you and stick with them.
It is understandable if you feel like choosing the topic of your research paper is very daunting. But there you are some tips that will help you out on it.
You should also ensure that there are enough sources or you will find very hard to develop the topic later. And don’t be afraid of picking something controversial: this is why you are in university: to bring a new vision to the world.
And if nothing else, remain flexible. You might need to change your topic along the way, or narrow it down, or even broad it. But it will all come to the end of writing an awesome research essay possible, so do your best.
By Luisa Brenton