Research paper topics
Finding a research paper topic that will interest you, one that is worth your time to investigate and one for which you will have the necessary time and materials, is an extremely important step in writing the research paper. You need not be familiar with a subject before doing research on it, but you should have some interest in the general area it involves because you will be working with that subject for a long period of time.
When the general subject is not assigned by your instructor, you can usually find one by examining your own interests, your background, or the other courses you are studying. There are other considerations that will limit the possibilities from which you may choose.
Your choice of a suitable subject for investigation will often be determined by whether or not you are interested in reading or investigating-and consequently analyzing-the original material directly and therefore working with primary sources or whether you are interested in investigating what others have said about your subject and therefore working with secondary sources. The usual college assign merit involves the latter. Your choice will be determined further when you eliminate unsuitable subjects. Some subjects are not worth investigating; they are too trivial, merely factual, or obviously routine. Others are often too new or current for conclusive study; a research paper must be factual, not conjectural, and must therefore be based on a variety of dependable sources. The availability of resource materials will vary somewhat with time and locale, so you must know your area and your library. And finally, some subjects have never been suitable for research: a biography summarized from secondary sources, the entire history of anything, or any subject that you will investigate with a closed mind.
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