Choosing a Strong Research Topic
You′ll be spending a lot of time on a research paper, so it is particularly important to select a topic that you really enjoy working with. But alas, it′s not that simple! To make your project a success, you′ll have to ensure that the topic is strong, as well as enjoyable. What does this mean? Unfortunately, you might find a topic that you like a lot, and go on to develop a strong thesis with no trouble at all. Then, you find yourself spending an afternoon at the library and discovering one or two problems.
You could find that very little research is available on your subject : This is a common hazard that wastes time and disrupts your mental flow and confidence. As much as you may like your topic, you may want to give it up at the start if you know you′re going to run into trouble finding information for your paper.
You may find that the research doesn′t support your thesis : Oops! This is a common frustration for professors who publish a lot. They often come up with intriguing and exciting new ideas, only to find that all the research points in a different direction. Don′t stick with an idea if you see lots of evidence that refutes it! To avoid those pitfalls, it is important to select more than one topic from the start. Find three or four topics that interest you, then, go to the library or an Internet-connected computer at home and conduct a preliminary search of each topic. Determine which project idea can be supported with plenty of published material.
Preliminary searches can be done pretty quickly; there is no need to spend hours in the library. As a matter of fact, you can start at home, on your own computer. Choose a topic and do a basic computer search. Take note of the types of sources that appear for each topic. For instance, you may come up with fifty web pages that concern your topic, but no books or articles. This is not a good result! Your teacher will be looking for (and perhaps requiring) a variety of sources, to include articles, books, and encyclopedia references. Don′t select a topic that doesn′t appear in books and articles, as well as on web sites.