Category: Research Paper Topics

Research Paper TopicsCheck our thematic list of research paper topics in various fields. Choosing a your research paper topic is actually the number one goal when starting to write it: your chief aim is to refine your topic, to sharpen and delimit your main question. You should start distilling and reshaping your topic as early as possible, even though you will continue to do so as you research and write. It’s not something you do once at the beginning and then put behind you. Honing your topic is vital to producing a first-rate research paper, and you should keep doing it throughout the project. The question is, how exactly do you refine your topic? You begin by understanding what makes a research paper topic manageable.

Some topics, no matter how significant and interesting, are simply too big and amorphous to research well. You can’t get your arms around them. You will never really master them, and it’s very hard to write a coherent paper that truly does them justice. That leads to a second point: You need to figure out how to move from a compelling general idea to a sharply focused topic, one you can research and analyze within the time available.

Good Research Paper Topics:

What Makes a Good Topic?

A good research paper topic is the one that is successful and manageable in your particular case. A successful research paper poses an interesting question you can actually answer. Just as important, it poses a question you can answer within the time available. The question should be one that interests you and deserves exploration. It might be an empirical question or a theoretical puzzle. In some fields, it might be a practical problem or policy issue. Whatever the question is, you need to mark off its boundaries clearly and intelligently so you can complete the research paper and not get lost in the woods. That means your topic should be manageable as well as interesting and important.

A topic is manageable if you can:

  • Master the relevant literature
  • Collect and analyze the necessary data
  • Answer the key questions you have posed
  • Do it all within the time available, with the skills you have

A topic is important if it:

  • Touches directly on major theoretical issues and debates, or
  • Addresses substantive topics of great interest in your field

Ideally, your topic can do both, engaging theoretical and substantive issues. In elementary education, for example, parents, teachers, scholars, and public officials all debate the effectiveness of charter schools, the impact of vouchers, and the value of different reading programs. A research paper on any of these would resonate within the university and well beyond it. Still, as you approach such topics, you need to limit the scope of your investigation so you can finish your research and writing on time. After all, to be a good research paper, it first has to be a completed one. A successful research paper poses an interesting question you can actually answer within the time available for the project. Some problems are simply too grand, too sweeping to master within the time limits. Some are too minor to interest you or anybody else.

The solution, however, is not to find a lukewarm bowl of porridge, a bland compromise. Nor is it to abandon your interest in larger, more profound issues such as the relationship between school organization and educational achievement or between immigration and poverty. Rather, the solution is to select a well-defined topic that is closely linked to some larger issue and then explore that link. Your research paper will succeed if you nail a well-defined topic. It will rise to excellence if you probe that topic deeply and show how it illuminates wider issues.The best theses deal with important issues, framed in manageable ways. The goal is to select a well-defined topic that is closely linked to some larger issue and can illuminate it.

You can begin your project with either a large issue or a narrowly defined topic, depending on your interests and the ideas you have generated. Whichever way you start, the goals are the same: to connect the two in meaningful ways and to explore your specific topic in depth.

Of course, the choice of a particular research paper topic depends on the course you’re taking.

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