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Writing a Research Paper: Choosing & Researching a Topic

Choosing a Topic

Choosing a Topic

a.) The choice of a paper topic is typically related to the content of the course being taken. If there is something in the class presentation or discussion that arouses your interest, you may wish to choose this as your paper topic. It is frequently helpful to keep a record of all your responses to the course material in the back of your class notebook. This way you will have a number of possible topics to choose from, or perhaps you will discover a pattern already expressed in your responses, a pattern that can then be organized into a meaningful paper. Make sure you check with your teacher, to see if your topic is acceptable, before you proceed with your research and writing.

b.) Look at the Opposing Viewpoints Series in your library for ideas about a paper. Also peruse the Current Issues Series. (Ask the librarian for tips about searching for these series in the library.)

c.) Look at the news, newspapers, and magazines for current issues that interest you. Again, check with your teacher to see if your paper topic is acceptable before you proceed with researching and writing the paper.

Researching a Topic

Search newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals and books for your topic. (Don't be afraid to ask your librarian for help determining the best ways to do this.) Use the library's databases to search newspapers, magazines and journals for your topic. Read these materials. It is usually not necessary to read all of everything that you have found. Read the most relevant carefully and thoroughly, and skim those that are only tangentially related. Read relevant sections of a particular book or essay and skim the less relevant sections.