How to Select Research Paper Topics

Writing a research paper takes time, including performing research, writing the paper, and editing it. Choosing research paper topics that you would enjoy researching and then developing a strong thesis are two good places to start. However, your like of the topic alone isnΓÇÖt enough to ensure that you will be able to write a successful research paper.

Here are two primary problems you may have in selecting your research paper topics.

1. Your Research Does Not Support Your Thesis
You may encounter the frustration of your research not supporting your thesis. Many times, you will come up with an exciting and captivating new idea. Then become disheartened once you begin your research and find that it does not concur with your thesis. Do not continue going forward with an idea when you discover a multitude of evidence refuting it.

2. There are a Lack of Reference Sources
It is possible that when you perform your research you discover there is a lack of quality sources and information supporting your thesis. If this happens, you should consider choosing another topic. Even though you like your current topic, if you are unable to support your thesis due to lack of information, frustration will set in. Plus, your professor may view your paper as your subjective opinion because you are not able to make astute statements backed by reputable expert sources.

The Solution to Selecting Research Paper Topics
A good way to avoid running into these problems is to choose several topics from the beginning. After choosing three or four research paper topics, conduct a preliminary topic search. Use the library or access the internet to research your topics.

You do not have to spend hours at the library researching your topics. These searches can begin at home on your computer. All you need to do is basic Internet searches. Keep track of the kinds of sources appearing for each of your research paper topics. For example, you may see sixty web pages concerning your topic, but no articles or books. This topic is not usable. Teachers usually require you to use a variety of sources. These sources often include encyclopedia references, books and journal articles. Do not choose a topic that does not have references available from a variety of sources.

If one of your topics is available in several journals and books, make sure that you can use these references prior to beginning your paper. There may be several articles available on your topic via your Internet search. However, if they are all publications from another country, they may not be available at your library. You need to find out if these publications are available for you to use before you choose your research paper topic.

By taking these steps to find your research paper topics in the beginning, you will ensure that the topic you choose will be fairly easy to research and provide a more enjoyable experience for you as a writer.

As you complete your paper, editing will be your next big hurdle. Editing your paper for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes as well as ensuring it adheres to the proper format can take a significant amount of time. Fortunately, there are formatting software products available that diminish (or alleviate?) all of your formatting concerns. Using these products will allow you to concentrate on what’s most important … the quality of your content.

David Plaut is the founder of Reference Point Software (RPS). RPS offers a complete suite of easy-to-use formatting template products featuring MLA and APA style templates, freeing up time to focus on substance while ensuring formatting accuracy. For more information, log onto or write to:
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Reference Point Software is not associated with, endorsed by, or affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA) or with the Modern Language Association (MLA).

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