List of Research Paper Topics Help (page 2)
Choosing a Research Paper Topic
When considering different topics for your research paper, you have to pick and choose carefully. How do you choose a good topic? Most often, if you write your paper for a specific class or instructor, it is very likely that the content and subject matter of your assignment is already dictated for you. However, if you are simply doing research and writing a general paper, then it's a good idea to distinguish which subject areas will be rewarding for you.
In general, you can classify research papers in two basic categories:
- There are those that explore, interpret, or investigate
- various controversial issues/subjects.
- established historical incidents.
- well-known individuals.
- There are those that examine/assess data and experimentation conducted in a particular field. These papers seek to add new knowledge to an established discipline.
Generally, but not always, the first type of paper is one that involves research in the humanities and includes topics found in the arts, politics, literature, and music. The personal lives and accomplishments of particular individuals also fall under this category. A good way to begin to consider interesting topics is to group ideas in the following areas:
This includes any historical event, action, legislation, or phenomenon that has occurred. A list of possible topics may include:
- World War II
- the French Revolution
- the Enlightenment
- the assassination of President John F. Kennedy
- the Vietnam War
In other words, any event that has occurred anywhere in the world could be a potentially interesting topic to examine, interpret, and explore. Be sure, however, that no matter what topic you choose—familiar or not—it should be broad enough to research. In other words, sometimes you may have difficulty finding enough material written in English about events that have occurred in non English-speaking countries. In a case like this, you may have to ask for translations of texts written in different languages, and this can be time-consuming. Finally, when exploring historical themes, take care not to fall into the "description" trap. Remember, you are not simply retelling a historical incident, you are using your own facts and data to analyze it and interpret it according to your own perceptions.
World history is full of individuals who have revolutionized and shaped the world in which we live and whose lives are constantly being reassessed. These individuals have worked in a wide spectrum of different professions, and their lives can make potentially fascinating subjects for explorations and research. Some of the most frequently researched, controversial, and colorful individuals are:
- Martin Luther King
- Helen Keller
- Chairman Mao
- Joan of Arc
- William Shakespeare
- Nelson Mandela
Naturally, the list could go on and on. Once again, be particularly careful when writing any type of biographical paper. It is easy to fall into the trap of merely describing or documenting an individual's life—much as you might document or describe an historical incident. There are many professional creative writers, journalists, official biographers, and academics who have spent a lifetime writing and researching these kinds of individuals and writing comprehensive, multi-volume works on their lives. Very often these books are considered to be definitive texts. If you are simply writing a paper, then you will most likely never compete with these scholars and experts, nor should you feel compelled to do so. To avoid writing a paper that could almost be a book about a famous individual, remember how you formed your thesis statement. Think of a particular era or part of this person's life, a particular action taken, or a critical decision made. The more you can narrow your focus to a period of no more than approximately five years, the better your results will be.
Legislative, Controversial, or Investigative Issues
Very often, specific laws, policies, pieces of legislation, and the controversy they have generated, provide excellent topics for research papers because they are condensed, specific, and focused. For example, some fascinating political and social phenomena are:
- the Emancipation Proclamation
- Roe vs. Wade
- stem cell research
- long term effects of alcohol on fetal development
- the civil rights movement
- the Bill of Rights
- the death of Lenin and the Bolshevik Revolution
Such topics, however controversial they may be, allow you to gather research in a much more focused and specific manner. Because of the heated debate and intense emotional feelings they often inspire in others, you should take the opportunity to read a variety of different sources and to consult a wide variety of writers for multiple opinions. Read all your material and weigh all the interpretations first before you form you own. When writing about controversial topics, remember that you are not working on behalf of anyone. You are not issuing a piece of political propaganda or seeking to brainwash your readers. Instead, you are helping them understand a complex set of events as well as providing them with a unique interpretation. The more opinionated you are and the more you try to get your reader to think like you do—instead of objectively presenting the evidence and events—the more likely it is that your reader will resist the lecture.
Scientific, Medical, and Mathematical Papers
Most research papers that describe and conduct specific experiments, interpret experimental data, and evaluate the objective results of others, are often scientific in the nature and the tone of their writing style. In other words, these papers focus more on the accumulation of objective evidence, the various means by which data was tested and interpreted, and finally, the analysis of these results. Usually, these papers, by the specific nature of their subject matter and disciplines, are more focused in their scope. They are also more likely to be dictated in topic matter by a particular professor, professional discipline, or company. Some very broad ideas for possible topics in this area might include:
- the law of thermodynamics
- electromagnetic propulsion
- genetic engineering
- plate tectonics and formation
- hormone replacement therapy and its controversial side effects
- natural selection and the laws of evolution
- the biomechanisms of the human brain
- the use of marijuana in the treatment of illness
- alternative treatments for cancer and radiation therapy
In addition to their specificity, scientific, medical, and mathematical papers often have exact formats. These papers often include precise charts, tables, graphs, and illustrations relating to the research. Once again, it is important to check with your professor or supervisor beforehand to ask how the data should be represented. Some individuals prefer charts, figures, and illustrations, while others prefer that data be written as prose.
No matter what topic you choose or what subject matter you ultimately investigate, the process is the same. You need to take your time, gather good and reliable sources, record your information carefully, and write it in a lively, informative way. It is also important to enjoy what you are writing about and to have passion for your subject matter. As you begin to choose a subject, you can use some of the very broad topic areas suggested here or you can research others. Be persistent as you conduct your research and try to get as many different opinions from as many different sources as you can in order to come to your own conclusions. Just remember to let your writing and evidence speak for itself. If you do, your passion and dedication to your subject matter will be evident.
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