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How to Find a Topic for Your Research Paper

Last Updated: September 12, 2023 References

This article was co-authored by Matthew Snipp, PhD and by wikiHow staff writer, Jennifer Mueller, JD . C. Matthew Snipp is the Burnet C. and Mildred Finley Wohlford Professor of Humanities and Sciences in the Department of Sociology at Stanford University. He is also the Director for the Institute for Research in the Social Science’s Secure Data Center. He has been a Research Fellow at the U.S. Bureau of the Census and a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He has published 3 books and over 70 articles and book chapters on demography, economic development, poverty and unemployment. He is also currently serving on the National Institute of Child Health and Development’s Population Science Subcommittee. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin—Madison. This article has been viewed 96,550 times.

Sometimes, finding a topic for a research paper can be the most challenging part of the whole process. When you're looking out at a field brimming with possibilities, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Lucky for you, we here at wikiHow have come up with a list of ways to pick that topic that will take you from the more vague brainstorming all the way to your specific, perfectly focused research question and thesis.

Review your course materials.

Your textbook, syllabus, and class notes can help you find a topic.

  • If your textbook has discussion questions at the end of each chapter, these can be great to comb through for potential research paper topic ideas.
  • Look at any recommended reading your instructor has suggested—you might find ideas there as well.

Search hot issues in your field of study.

Run an internet search or talk to your instructor.

  • Think about current events that touch on your field of study as well. For example, if you're writing a research paper for a sociology class, you might want to write something related to race in America or the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Other instructors in the same department or field might also have ideas for you. Don't be afraid to stop in during their office hours and talk or send them an email, even if you've never had them for a class.

Go for a walk to get your brain going.

Being active can stimulate your mind to focus on topic ideas.

  • If you want to walk with a friend and discuss topic ideas as you walk, that can help too. Sometimes, you'll come up with new things when you can bounce your ideas off someone else.

Ask your family or friends for input.

Bounce ideas off of people you know to get their thoughts.

  • People who aren't really familiar with the general subject you're researching can be helpful too! Because they aren't making many assumptions, they might bring up something you'd overlooked or not thought about before.

Free-write on topic ideas to find your passion.

Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and write without stopping.

  • Having a personal interest in the topic will keep you from getting bored. You'll do better research—and write a better paper—if you're excited about the topic itself.

Read background information on your favorites.

Search online for background articles about topics you like.

  • Ideally, based on your background research, you'll be able to choose one of the topics that interests you the most. If you still can't narrow it down, keep reading!
  • Even though you wouldn't want to use them as sources for your actual paper, sources like Wikipedia can be excellent for getting background information about a topic.

Identify important words to use as keywords.

Jot down words related to your topic to search for sources.

  • For example, if you've chosen environmental regulations as a topic, you might also include keywords such as "conservation," "pollution," and "nature."

Do preliminary research using your keywords.

Search online or on library databases and review your results.

  • Your results might also suggest other keywords you can search to find more sources. Searching for specific terminology used in articles you find often leads to other articles.
  • Check the bibliography of any papers you find to pick up some other sources you might be able to use.

Limit a broad topic.

Narrow your topic to a specific time period, geographic area, or population.

  • For example, suppose you decided to look at race relations in the US during the Trump administration. If you got too many results, you might narrow your results to a single US city or state.
  • Keep in mind how long your research paper will ultimately be. For example, if there's an entire book written on a topic you want to write a 20-page research paper on, it's probably too broad.

Expand a topic that's too narrow.

Broaden your scope if you're not getting enough results from your keywords.

  • For example, suppose you wanted to research the impact of a particular environmental law on your hometown, but when you did a search, you didn't get any quality results. You might expand your search to encompass the entire state or region, rather than just your hometown.

Do more in-depth research to fine-tune your topic.

Run another search based on the information you've gained.

  • For example, you might do an initial search and get hundreds of results back and decide your topic is too broad. Then, when you limit it, you get next to nothing and figure out you've narrowed it too much, so you have to broaden it a little bit again.
  • Stay flexible and keep going until you've found that happy medium that you think will work for your paper.

Formulate the question you'll answer in your paper.

Use the 5 W's (who, what, when, where, and why) to write your question.

  • For example, your research question might be something like "How did environmental regulations affect the living conditions of people living near paper mills?" This question covers "who" (people living near paper mills), "what" (living conditions), "where" (near paper mills), and "why" (environmental regulations).

Build a list of potential sources.

Write down citation information as you work.

  • At this point, your list is still a "working" list. You won't necessarily use all the sources you find in your actual paper.
  • Building a working list of sources is also helpful if you want to use a source and can't immediately get access to it. If you have to get it through your professor or request it from another library, you have time to do so.

Develop your thesis.

Your thesis is the answer to your research question.

  • For example, suppose your research question is "How did environmental regulations affect the living conditions of people living near paper mills?" Your thesis might be something like: "Environmental regulations improved living conditions for people living around paper mills."
  • As another example, suppose your research question is "Why did hate crimes spike in the US from 2017 to 2020?" Your thesis might be: "A permissive attitude towards racial supremacy caused a spike in hate crimes in the US from 2017 to 2020."
  • Keep in mind, you don't have to prove that your thesis is correct. Proving that your thesis was wrong can make for an even more compelling research paper, especially if your thesis follows conventional wisdom.

Expert Q&A

  • If you've been given a list of topics but you come up with something different that you want to do, don't be afraid to talk to your instructor about it! The worst that will happen is that they'll make you choose something from the list instead. [11] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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  • ↑ https://library.sacredheart.edu/c.php?g=29803&p=185905
  • ↑ https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/08/how-steve-jobs-odd-habit-can-help-you-brainstorm-ideas.html
  • ↑ https://emory.libanswers.com/faq/44525
  • ↑ https://emory.libanswers.com/faq/44524
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/common_writing_assignments/research_papers/choosing_a_topic.html

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Selecting a Research Topic: Overview

  • Refine your topic
  • Background information & facts
  • Writing help

Here are some resources to refer to when selecting a topic and preparing to write a paper:

  • MIT Writing and Communication Center "Providing free professional advice about all types of writing and speaking to all members of the MIT community."
  • Search Our Collections Find books about writing. Search by subject for: english language grammar; report writing handbooks; technical writing handbooks
  • Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation Online version of the book that provides examples and tips on grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and other writing rules.
  • Select a topic

Choosing an interesting research topic is your first challenge. Here are some tips:

  • Choose a topic that you are interested in! The research process is more relevant if you care about your topic.
  • If your topic is too broad, you will find too much information and not be able to focus.
  • Background reading can help you choose and limit the scope of your topic. 
  • Review the guidelines on topic selection outlined in your assignment.  Ask your professor or TA for suggestions.
  • Refer to lecture notes and required texts to refresh your knowledge of the course and assignment.
  • Talk about research ideas with a friend.  S/he may be able to help focus your topic by discussing issues that didn't occur to you at first.
  • WHY did you choose the topic?  What interests you about it?  Do you have an opinion about the issues involved?
  • WHO are the information providers on this topic?  Who might publish information about it?  Who is affected by the topic?  Do you know of organizations or institutions affiliated with the topic?
  • WHAT are the major questions for this topic?  Is there a debate about the topic?  Are there a range of issues and viewpoints to consider?
  • WHERE is your topic important: at the local, national or international level?  Are there specific places affected by the topic?
  • WHEN is/was your topic important?  Is it a current event or an historical issue?  Do you want to compare your topic by time periods?

Table of contents

  • Broaden your topic
  • Information Navigator home
  • Sources for facts - general
  • Sources for facts - specific subjects

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Ask Us Ask a question, make an appointment, give feedback, or visit us.

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  • URL: https://libguides.mit.edu/select-topic

Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Choosing a Topic

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The first step of any research paper is for the student to understand the assignment. If this is not done, the student will often travel down many dead-end roads, wasting a great deal of time along the way. Do not hesitate to approach the instructor with questions if there is any confusion. A clear understanding of the assignment will allow you to focus on other aspects of the process, such as choosing a topic and identifying your audience.

A student will often encounter one of two situations when it comes to choosing a topic for a research paper. The first situation occurs when the instructor provides a list of topics from which the student may choose. These topics have been deemed worthy by the instructor; therefore, the student should be confident in the topic he chooses from the list. Many first-time researchers appreciate such an arrangement by the instructor because it eliminates the stress of having to decide upon a topic on their own.

However, the student may also find the topics that have been provided to be limiting; moreover, it is not uncommon for the student to have a topic in mind that does not fit with any of those provided. If this is the case, it is always beneficial to approach the instructor with one's ideas. Be respectful, and ask the instructor if the topic you have in mind would be a possible research option for the assignment. Remember, as a first-time researcher, your knowledge of the process is quite limited; the instructor is experienced, and may have very precise reasons for choosing the topics she has offered to the class. Trust that she has the best interests of the class in mind. If she likes the topic, great! If not, do not take it personally and choose the topic from the list that seems most interesting to you.

The second situation occurs when the instructor simply hands out an assignment sheet that covers the logistics of the research paper, but leaves the choice of topic up to the student. Typically, assignments in which students are given the opportunity to choose the topic require the topic to be relevant to some aspect of the course; so, keep this in mind as you begin a course in which you know there will be a research paper near the end. That way, you can be on the lookout for a topic that may interest you. Do not be anxious on account of a perceived lack of authority or knowledge about the topic chosen. Instead, realize that it takes practice to become an experienced researcher in any field.

For a discussion of Evaluating Sources, see Evaluating Sources of Information .

Methods for choosing a topic

Thinking early leads to starting early. If the student begins thinking about possible topics when the assignment is given, she has already begun the arduous, yet rewarding, task of planning and organization. Once she has made the assignment a priority in her mind, she may begin to have ideas throughout the day. Brainstorming is often a successful way for students to get some of these ideas down on paper. Seeing one's ideas in writing is often an impetus for the writing process. Though brainstorming is particularly effective when a topic has been chosen, it can also benefit the student who is unable to narrow a topic. It consists of a timed writing session during which the student jots down—often in list or bulleted form—any ideas that come to his mind. At the end of the timed period, the student will peruse his list for patterns of consistency. If it appears that something seems to be standing out in his mind more than others, it may be wise to pursue this as a topic possibility.

It is important for the student to keep in mind that an initial topic that you come up with may not be the exact topic about which you end up writing. Research topics are often fluid, and dictated more by the student's ongoing research than by the original chosen topic. Such fluidity is common in research, and should be embraced as one of its many characteristics.

The Purdue OWL also offers a number of other resources on choosing and developing a topic:

  • Understanding Writing Assignments
  • Starting the Writing Process
  • Invention Slide Presentation

Grad Coach

1000+ FREE Research Topics & Title Ideas

If you’re at the start of your research journey and are trying to figure out which research topic you want to focus on, you’ve come to the right place. Select your area of interest below to view a comprehensive collection of potential research ideas.

Research topic idea mega list

Research Topic FAQs

What (exactly) is a research topic.

A research topic is the subject of a research project or study – for example, a dissertation or thesis. A research topic typically takes the form of a problem to be solved, or a question to be answered.

A good research topic should be specific enough to allow for focused research and analysis. For example, if you are interested in studying the effects of climate change on agriculture, your research topic could focus on how rising temperatures have impacted crop yields in certain regions over time.

To learn more about the basics of developing a research topic, consider our free research topic ideation webinar.

What constitutes a good research topic?

A strong research topic comprises three important qualities : originality, value and feasibility.

  • Originality – a good topic explores an original area or takes a novel angle on an existing area of study.
  • Value – a strong research topic provides value and makes a contribution, either academically or practically.
  • Feasibility – a good research topic needs to be practical and manageable, given the resource constraints you face.

To learn more about what makes for a high-quality research topic, check out this post .

What's the difference between a research topic and research problem?

A research topic and a research problem are two distinct concepts that are often confused. A research topic is a broader label that indicates the focus of the study , while a research problem is an issue or gap in knowledge within the broader field that needs to be addressed.

To illustrate this distinction, consider a student who has chosen “teenage pregnancy in the United Kingdom” as their research topic. This research topic could encompass any number of issues related to teenage pregnancy such as causes, prevention strategies, health outcomes for mothers and babies, etc.

Within this broad category (the research topic) lies potential areas of inquiry that can be explored further – these become the research problems . For example:

  • What factors contribute to higher rates of teenage pregnancy in certain communities?
  • How do different types of parenting styles affect teen pregnancy rates?
  • What interventions have been successful in reducing teenage pregnancies?

Simply put, a key difference between a research topic and a research problem is scope ; the research topic provides an umbrella under which multiple questions can be asked, while the research problem focuses on one specific question or set of questions within that larger context.

How can I find potential research topics for my project?

There are many steps involved in the process of finding and choosing a high-quality research topic for a dissertation or thesis. We cover these steps in detail in this video (also accessible below).

How can I find quality sources for my research topic?

Finding quality sources is an essential step in the topic ideation process. To do this, you should start by researching scholarly journals, books, and other academic publications related to your topic. These sources can provide reliable information on a wide range of topics. Additionally, they may contain data or statistics that can help support your argument or conclusions.

Identifying Relevant Sources

When searching for relevant sources, it’s important to look beyond just published material; try using online databases such as Google Scholar or JSTOR to find articles from reputable journals that have been peer-reviewed by experts in the field.

You can also use search engines like Google or Bing to locate websites with useful information about your topic. However, be sure to evaluate any website before citing it as a source—look for evidence of authorship (such as an “About Us” page) and make sure the content is up-to-date and accurate before relying on it.

Evaluating Sources

Once you’ve identified potential sources for your research project, take some time to evaluate them thoroughly before deciding which ones will best serve your purpose. Consider factors such as author credibility (are they an expert in their field?), publication date (is the source current?), objectivity (does the author present both sides of an issue?) and relevance (how closely does this source relate to my specific topic?).

By researching the current literature on your topic, you can identify potential sources that will help to provide quality information. Once you’ve identified these sources, it’s time to look for a gap in the research and determine what new knowledge could be gained from further study.

How can I find a good research gap?

Finding a strong gap in the literature is an essential step when looking for potential research topics. We explain what research gaps are and how to find them in this post.

How should I evaluate potential research topics/ideas?

When evaluating potential research topics, it is important to consider the factors that make for a strong topic (we discussed these earlier). Specifically:

  • Originality
  • Feasibility

So, when you have a list of potential topics or ideas, assess each of them in terms of these three criteria. A good topic should take a unique angle, provide value (either to academia or practitioners), and be practical enough for you to pull off, given your limited resources.

Finally, you should also assess whether this project could lead to potential career opportunities such as internships or job offers down the line. Make sure that you are researching something that is relevant enough so that it can benefit your professional development in some way. Additionally, consider how each research topic aligns with your career goals and interests; researching something that you are passionate about can help keep motivation high throughout the process.

How can I assess the feasibility of a research topic?

When evaluating the feasibility and practicality of a research topic, it is important to consider several factors.

First, you should assess whether or not the research topic is within your area of competence. Of course, when you start out, you are not expected to be the world’s leading expert, but do should at least have some foundational knowledge.

Time commitment

When considering a research topic, you should think about how much time will be required for completion. Depending on your field of study, some topics may require more time than others due to their complexity or scope.

Additionally, if you plan on collaborating with other researchers or institutions in order to complete your project, additional considerations must be taken into account such as coordinating schedules and ensuring that all parties involved have adequate resources available.

Resources needed

It’s also critically important to consider what type of resources are necessary in order to conduct the research successfully. This includes physical materials such as lab equipment and chemicals but can also include intangible items like access to certain databases or software programs which may be necessary depending on the nature of your work. Additionally, if there are costs associated with obtaining these materials then this must also be factored into your evaluation process.

Potential risks

It’s important to consider the inherent potential risks for each potential research topic. These can include ethical risks (challenges getting ethical approval), data risks (not being able to access the data you’ll need), technical risks relating to the equipment you’ll use and funding risks (not securing the necessary financial back to undertake the research).

If you’re looking for more information about how to find, evaluate and select research topics for your dissertation or thesis, check out our free webinar here . Alternatively, if you’d like 1:1 help with the topic ideation process, consider our private coaching services .

how to find a topic for research paper

Psst... there’s more!

This post was based on one of our popular Research Bootcamps . If you're working on a research project, you'll definitely want to check this out ...

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Research 101 (A How-to Guide): Step 1. Choose a topic

  • Step 1. Choose a topic
  • Step 2. Get background information
  • Step 3. Create a search strategy
  • Step 4. Find books and e-books
  • Step 5. Find articles
  • Step 6. Evaluate your sources
  • Step 7. Cite your sources

Step 1. Choose a Topic

Choosing an interesting research topic can be challenging.  This video tutorial will help you select and properly scope your topic by employing questioning, free writing, and mind mapping techniques so that you can formulate a research question.


Good Sources for Finding a Topic

  • CQ Researcher This link opens in a new window Browse the "hot topics" on the right hand side for inspiration.
  • 401 Prompts for Argumentative Writing, New York Times Great questions to consider for argumentative essays.
  • ProCon.org Facts, news, and thousands of diverse opinions on controversial issues in a pro-con format.
  • Room For Debate, New York Times This website, created by editorial staff from the New York Times, explores close to 1,500 news events and other timely issues. Knowledgeable outside contributors provide subject background and readers may contribute their own views. Great help for choosing a topic!
  • US News & World Report: Debate Club Pro/Con arguments on current issues.
  • Writing Prompts, New York Times New York Times Opinion articles that are geared toward students and invite comment.

Tips for Choosing a Topic

  • Choose a topic that interests you!   
  • Pick a manageable topic, not too broad, not too narrow. Reading background info can help you choose and limit the scope of your topic.
  • Review lecture notes and class readings for ideas.
  • Check with your instructor to make sure your topic fits with the assignment.

Picking your topic IS research!

  • Developing a Research Question Worksheet

Mind Mapping Tools

Mind mapping, a visual form of brainstorming, is an effective technique for developing a topic.  Here are some free tools to create mind maps.

  • Bubbl.us Free account allows you to save 3 mind maps, download as image or HTML, and share with others.
  • Coggle Sign in with your Google account to create maps that you can download as PDF or PNG or share with others.
  • << Previous: Overview
  • Next: Step 2. Get background information >>
  • Last Updated: Jun 17, 2024 11:05 AM
  • URL: https://libguides.depaul.edu/research101
  • Boston University Libraries

Choosing a Research Topic

  • Starting Points

Where to Find Ideas

Persuasive paper assignments, dissertations and theses.

  • From Idea to Search
  • Make It Manageable

If you are starting a research project and would like some help choosing the best topic, this guide is for you.  Start by asking yourself these questions:

What does your instructor require? What interests you? What information sources can support your research? What is doable in the time you have?

While keeping these questions in mind, find suggestions in this guide to select a topic, turn that topic into a database search, and make your research manageable.  You will also find more information in our About the Research Process guide.

Whether your instructor has given a range of possible topics to you or you have to come up with a topic on your own, you could benefit from these activities:  

Consult Course Materials If a reading, film, or other resource is selected by your instructor, the subject of it is important to the course. You can often find inspiration for a paper in these materials.

  • Is a broad topic presented?  You can focus on a specific aspect of that topic.  For example, if your class viewed a film on poverty in the United States, you could look at poverty in a specific city or explore how poverty affects Americans of a specific gender, ethnic group, or age range.
  • Are experts presented, quoted, or cited?  Look up their work in BU Libraries Search or Google Scholar .

Use Background Sources If you've identified one or more topics you'd like to investigate further, look them up in an encyclopedia, handbook, or other background information source.  Here are some good places to start.

  • Britannica Academic This link opens in a new window Online version of Encyclopædia Britannica along Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus, magazines and periodicals and other reference sources.
  • Oxford Reference This link opens in a new window Published by Oxford University Press, it is a fully-indexed, cross-searchable database containing dictionaries, language reference and subject reference works.

Explore the Scholarly Literature Ask your instructor or a librarian to guide you to the top journals in the field you're studying.  Scanning the tables of contents within these journals will provide some inspiration for your research project.  As a bonus, each of the articles in these journals will have a bibliography that will lead you to related articles, books, and other materials.

Ask a Librarian We are here to help you!  You can request a consultation or contact us by email or through our chat service .  We can help you identify what interests you, where to find more about it, and how to narrow the topic to something manageable in the time you have.

If your assignment entails persuading a reader to adopt a position, you can conduct your research in the same way you would with any other research project. The biggest mistake you can make, however, is choosing a position before you start your research.   Instead, the information you consult should inform your position.  Researching before choosing a position is also much easier; you will be able to explore all sides of a topic rather than limiting yourself to one.

If you would like examples of debates on controversial topics, try these resources:

  • CQ Researcher This link opens in a new window Covers the most current and controversial issues of the day with summaries, pros and cons, bibliographies and more. Provides reporting and analysis on issues in the news, including coverage of issues relating to health, social trends, criminal justice, international affairs, education, the environment, technology, and the economy.
  • New York Times: Room for Debate Selections from the New York Times' opinion pages.
  • ProCon.org Created by Britannica, this site exposes readers to two sides of timely arguments. Each article includes a bibliography of suggested resources.

If you are writing a dissertation or thesis, you will find more specialized information at our Guide for Writers of Theses and Dissertations .

If you would like to find published dissertations and theses, please use this database:

This database contains indexing and abstracts of American doctoral dissertations accepted at accredited institutions since 1861 and a selection from other countries. Masters theses are included selectively. Date coverage: full text 1997 - present; abstracts 1980 - present; indexing 1861 - present.

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  • URL: https://library.bu.edu/choosing-a-topic

Finding a Paper Topic

Introduction, current discussion and developments, working papers, academic journal articles, llm papers & sjd dissertations, faculty advisors, refining & finalizing a paper topic, getting help.

This guide is aimed at law students selecting a research paper topic. You should aim to find a specific, original topic that you find intriguing. The process for choosing a topic varies but might involve the following steps.

  • Brainstorm about areas of interest. Think about interesting concepts from your courses, work history or life experience. 
  • Review current awareness sources like legal news, legal practice publications, or law blogs to generate more ideas and/or to identify legal developments related to your topic.
  • Begin initial research using HOLLIS and Google Scholar.
  • Refine your search phrases and start more specific research in academic articles and working papers. Try to zero in on current scholarly discussions on your topic.
  • Reach out to potential faculty supervisors to discuss and refine the thesis statements you are considering.

Once you have finalized your topic, consider meeting with a librarian. Librarians can help you find and use targeted research sources for your specific project.

Current Awareness

Browsing and reading blogs, law firm posts, and legal news will help you generate ideas. Try some of the sources below to find current legal developments and controversies ahead of their formal analysis in traditional scholarly sources such as books or law review articles.

  • Bloomberg Law Law Review Resources: Find a Topic (HLS Only) Find circuit splits, Court developments, browse developments by practice area.
  • Lexis Legal News Hub (HLS Only) Legal news from Law360, Mealey's, MLex & FTCWatch.
  • Westlaw Legal Blogs (HLS Only) Aggregates content from many blogs. Browse or search.
  • JD Supra Content from law firms. Browse or search.

Working Papers Repositories

After browsing current awareness, digging into working papers is a good next step. Working papers (preprints) are scholarly articles not yet published or in final form. Most U.S.-based law professors deposit their scholarship in these working paper repositories. Make sure to order results by date to explore the current academic conversation on a topic.

  • SSRN (Social Science Research Network) A main source for working papers in law and social sciences. Accessing it through HOLLIS will allow you to set up an individual account and subscribe to email alerts.
  • Law Commons Open access working paper repository. Browse by topic, author, and institutional affiliation.
  • NBER Working Papers The National Bureau of Economic Research hosts working papers related to finance, banking, and law and economics.
  • OSF Preprints Multidisciplinary repository more global in scope than those listed above.

Academic Literature

As you zero in on a topic, it is time to explore the legal academic literature. If your topic is not solely legal but falls in other academic disciplines like economics, sociology, political science, etc. begin with HOLLIS and Google Scholar as you explore and refine your topic.

Law Journal Articles

  • Hein Online Law Journal Library (Harvard Key) Provides pdf format for law review articles in 3200 law journals. For most, coverage is from inception. Includes a good collection of non-U.S. journals.
  • Lexis+ Law Reviews and Journals (HLS Only)
  • Westlaw Law Reviews & Journals (HLS Only)
  • LegalTrac Topic Finder (HLS only) LegalTrac is an index (descriptions of articles) and has some full text. It is included here for its topic finder tool which allows you to put in some general topics, and then refine the terms to generate a list of linked articles.

Academic Articles, Books and Book Chapters

  • HOLLIS Catalog and Articles Beyond finding the books, ebooks, and journals owned by the Harvard Library system, using HOLLIS in its default mode (Catalog & Articles) allows you to find articles from many subscription sources. Before settling on a paper topic, running some searches in HOLLIS is a must.
  • Harvard Google Scholar Google Scholar limits results to scholarly research publications. Harvard Google Scholar will (usually) allow you to link through to content from Harvard-subscribed sources.

Dissertations, Theses and Papers

As you refine your topic ideas, it is often helpful to browse the titles of dissertations and papers by SJDs, LLMs, or JD students, either generally, or those which touch on your subject area. This can help you understand how people have framed their research topic in a discrete, specific way. 

  • Proquest Dissertations and Theses (Harvard Key) Dissertations and theses from many academic institutions but does not include any HLS SJD dissertations or LL.M. papers from recent years.
  • HLS Dissertations, Theses, and JD Papers Guide to finding HLS student papers in the library's collection using HOLLIS. (Print format up to 2023, electronic format in 2024 and thereafter).
  • Global ETD Search (Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations) Global repository of theses and dissertations.

Tips on Finding a Faculty Advisor

HLS LL.M. papers require faculty supervision. Discussing your topic with a potential faculty supervisor can be an important step in solidifying your topic ideas. 

  • HLS Faculty Directory Search or browse by area of interest or name. Faculty supervisors must have a teaching appointment during the semester in which the paper is to be turned in.
  • HLS Course Catalog Determine who is currently teaching in a particular subject area.
  • HLS Faculty Bibliography This collective list of publications of the HLS faculty can be searched and limited by date.

Tips for Refining a Topic

As you’ve browsed blogs, news, law reviews and other LL.M. papers, you have hopefully arrived at some topic ideas that are original and will hold your continued interest. It is also important to refine your paper topic to a discrete, narrow idea. To make sure your topic is sufficiently narrow, please see the resources included in the HLS Graduate Program Writing Resources Canvas Site . See especially: 

  • The Six-Point Exercise in the module “Developing Your Proposal and Drafting Your Paper”
  • Worksheets for Senior Thesis Writers and Others in the module “Recommended Materials on Writing”
  • Archetypal Legal Scholarship: A Field Guide, 63 J. Legal Educ. 65 (2013) HLS Prof. Minow's article defines the different types of papers in the legal literature. It is helpful to read her framework as you finalize your paper topic.
  • Academic Legal Writing: Law Review Articles, Student Notes, Seminar Papers, and Getting on Law Review UCLA Prof. Eugene Volokh's book on legal writing.
  • Choosing a Claim (Excerpt from above book.) This is a publicly available excerpt of the book. Chapter begins on p. 25 of this pdf.

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  • Last Updated: May 30, 2024 12:13 PM
  • URL: https://guides.library.harvard.edu/law/findingapapertopic

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 113 great research paper topics.

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One of the hardest parts of writing a research paper can be just finding a good topic to write about. Fortunately we've done the hard work for you and have compiled a list of 113 interesting research paper topics. They've been organized into ten categories and cover a wide range of subjects so you can easily find the best topic for you.

In addition to the list of good research topics, we've included advice on what makes a good research paper topic and how you can use your topic to start writing a great paper.

What Makes a Good Research Paper Topic?

Not all research paper topics are created equal, and you want to make sure you choose a great topic before you start writing. Below are the three most important factors to consider to make sure you choose the best research paper topics.

#1: It's Something You're Interested In

A paper is always easier to write if you're interested in the topic, and you'll be more motivated to do in-depth research and write a paper that really covers the entire subject. Even if a certain research paper topic is getting a lot of buzz right now or other people seem interested in writing about it, don't feel tempted to make it your topic unless you genuinely have some sort of interest in it as well.

#2: There's Enough Information to Write a Paper

Even if you come up with the absolute best research paper topic and you're so excited to write about it, you won't be able to produce a good paper if there isn't enough research about the topic. This can happen for very specific or specialized topics, as well as topics that are too new to have enough research done on them at the moment. Easy research paper topics will always be topics with enough information to write a full-length paper.

Trying to write a research paper on a topic that doesn't have much research on it is incredibly hard, so before you decide on a topic, do a bit of preliminary searching and make sure you'll have all the information you need to write your paper.

#3: It Fits Your Teacher's Guidelines

Don't get so carried away looking at lists of research paper topics that you forget any requirements or restrictions your teacher may have put on research topic ideas. If you're writing a research paper on a health-related topic, deciding to write about the impact of rap on the music scene probably won't be allowed, but there may be some sort of leeway. For example, if you're really interested in current events but your teacher wants you to write a research paper on a history topic, you may be able to choose a topic that fits both categories, like exploring the relationship between the US and North Korea. No matter what, always get your research paper topic approved by your teacher first before you begin writing.

113 Good Research Paper Topics

Below are 113 good research topics to help you get you started on your paper. We've organized them into ten categories to make it easier to find the type of research paper topics you're looking for.


  • Discuss the main differences in art from the Italian Renaissance and the Northern Renaissance .
  • Analyze the impact a famous artist had on the world.
  • How is sexism portrayed in different types of media (music, film, video games, etc.)? Has the amount/type of sexism changed over the years?
  • How has the music of slaves brought over from Africa shaped modern American music?
  • How has rap music evolved in the past decade?
  • How has the portrayal of minorities in the media changed?


Current Events

  • What have been the impacts of China's one child policy?
  • How have the goals of feminists changed over the decades?
  • How has the Trump presidency changed international relations?
  • Analyze the history of the relationship between the United States and North Korea.
  • What factors contributed to the current decline in the rate of unemployment?
  • What have been the impacts of states which have increased their minimum wage?
  • How do US immigration laws compare to immigration laws of other countries?
  • How have the US's immigration laws changed in the past few years/decades?
  • How has the Black Lives Matter movement affected discussions and view about racism in the US?
  • What impact has the Affordable Care Act had on healthcare in the US?
  • What factors contributed to the UK deciding to leave the EU (Brexit)?
  • What factors contributed to China becoming an economic power?
  • Discuss the history of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies  (some of which tokenize the S&P 500 Index on the blockchain) .
  • Do students in schools that eliminate grades do better in college and their careers?
  • Do students from wealthier backgrounds score higher on standardized tests?
  • Do students who receive free meals at school get higher grades compared to when they weren't receiving a free meal?
  • Do students who attend charter schools score higher on standardized tests than students in public schools?
  • Do students learn better in same-sex classrooms?
  • How does giving each student access to an iPad or laptop affect their studies?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of the Montessori Method ?
  • Do children who attend preschool do better in school later on?
  • What was the impact of the No Child Left Behind act?
  • How does the US education system compare to education systems in other countries?
  • What impact does mandatory physical education classes have on students' health?
  • Which methods are most effective at reducing bullying in schools?
  • Do homeschoolers who attend college do as well as students who attended traditional schools?
  • Does offering tenure increase or decrease quality of teaching?
  • How does college debt affect future life choices of students?
  • Should graduate students be able to form unions?


  • What are different ways to lower gun-related deaths in the US?
  • How and why have divorce rates changed over time?
  • Is affirmative action still necessary in education and/or the workplace?
  • Should physician-assisted suicide be legal?
  • How has stem cell research impacted the medical field?
  • How can human trafficking be reduced in the United States/world?
  • Should people be able to donate organs in exchange for money?
  • Which types of juvenile punishment have proven most effective at preventing future crimes?
  • Has the increase in US airport security made passengers safer?
  • Analyze the immigration policies of certain countries and how they are similar and different from one another.
  • Several states have legalized recreational marijuana. What positive and negative impacts have they experienced as a result?
  • Do tariffs increase the number of domestic jobs?
  • Which prison reforms have proven most effective?
  • Should governments be able to censor certain information on the internet?
  • Which methods/programs have been most effective at reducing teen pregnancy?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of the Keto diet?
  • How effective are different exercise regimes for losing weight and maintaining weight loss?
  • How do the healthcare plans of various countries differ from each other?
  • What are the most effective ways to treat depression ?
  • What are the pros and cons of genetically modified foods?
  • Which methods are most effective for improving memory?
  • What can be done to lower healthcare costs in the US?
  • What factors contributed to the current opioid crisis?
  • Analyze the history and impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic .
  • Are low-carbohydrate or low-fat diets more effective for weight loss?
  • How much exercise should the average adult be getting each week?
  • Which methods are most effective to get parents to vaccinate their children?
  • What are the pros and cons of clean needle programs?
  • How does stress affect the body?
  • Discuss the history of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
  • What were the causes and effects of the Salem Witch Trials?
  • Who was responsible for the Iran-Contra situation?
  • How has New Orleans and the government's response to natural disasters changed since Hurricane Katrina?
  • What events led to the fall of the Roman Empire?
  • What were the impacts of British rule in India ?
  • Was the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki necessary?
  • What were the successes and failures of the women's suffrage movement in the United States?
  • What were the causes of the Civil War?
  • How did Abraham Lincoln's assassination impact the country and reconstruction after the Civil War?
  • Which factors contributed to the colonies winning the American Revolution?
  • What caused Hitler's rise to power?
  • Discuss how a specific invention impacted history.
  • What led to Cleopatra's fall as ruler of Egypt?
  • How has Japan changed and evolved over the centuries?
  • What were the causes of the Rwandan genocide ?


  • Why did Martin Luther decide to split with the Catholic Church?
  • Analyze the history and impact of a well-known cult (Jonestown, Manson family, etc.)
  • How did the sexual abuse scandal impact how people view the Catholic Church?
  • How has the Catholic church's power changed over the past decades/centuries?
  • What are the causes behind the rise in atheism/ agnosticism in the United States?
  • What were the influences in Siddhartha's life resulted in him becoming the Buddha?
  • How has media portrayal of Islam/Muslims changed since September 11th?


  • How has the earth's climate changed in the past few decades?
  • How has the use and elimination of DDT affected bird populations in the US?
  • Analyze how the number and severity of natural disasters have increased in the past few decades.
  • Analyze deforestation rates in a certain area or globally over a period of time.
  • How have past oil spills changed regulations and cleanup methods?
  • How has the Flint water crisis changed water regulation safety?
  • What are the pros and cons of fracking?
  • What impact has the Paris Climate Agreement had so far?
  • What have NASA's biggest successes and failures been?
  • How can we improve access to clean water around the world?
  • Does ecotourism actually have a positive impact on the environment?
  • Should the US rely on nuclear energy more?
  • What can be done to save amphibian species currently at risk of extinction?
  • What impact has climate change had on coral reefs?
  • How are black holes created?
  • Are teens who spend more time on social media more likely to suffer anxiety and/or depression?
  • How will the loss of net neutrality affect internet users?
  • Analyze the history and progress of self-driving vehicles.
  • How has the use of drones changed surveillance and warfare methods?
  • Has social media made people more or less connected?
  • What progress has currently been made with artificial intelligence ?
  • Do smartphones increase or decrease workplace productivity?
  • What are the most effective ways to use technology in the classroom?
  • How is Google search affecting our intelligence?
  • When is the best age for a child to begin owning a smartphone?
  • Has frequent texting reduced teen literacy rates?


How to Write a Great Research Paper

Even great research paper topics won't give you a great research paper if you don't hone your topic before and during the writing process. Follow these three tips to turn good research paper topics into great papers.

#1: Figure Out Your Thesis Early

Before you start writing a single word of your paper, you first need to know what your thesis will be. Your thesis is a statement that explains what you intend to prove/show in your paper. Every sentence in your research paper will relate back to your thesis, so you don't want to start writing without it!

As some examples, if you're writing a research paper on if students learn better in same-sex classrooms, your thesis might be "Research has shown that elementary-age students in same-sex classrooms score higher on standardized tests and report feeling more comfortable in the classroom."

If you're writing a paper on the causes of the Civil War, your thesis might be "While the dispute between the North and South over slavery is the most well-known cause of the Civil War, other key causes include differences in the economies of the North and South, states' rights, and territorial expansion."

#2: Back Every Statement Up With Research

Remember, this is a research paper you're writing, so you'll need to use lots of research to make your points. Every statement you give must be backed up with research, properly cited the way your teacher requested. You're allowed to include opinions of your own, but they must also be supported by the research you give.

#3: Do Your Research Before You Begin Writing

You don't want to start writing your research paper and then learn that there isn't enough research to back up the points you're making, or, even worse, that the research contradicts the points you're trying to make!

Get most of your research on your good research topics done before you begin writing. Then use the research you've collected to create a rough outline of what your paper will cover and the key points you're going to make. This will help keep your paper clear and organized, and it'll ensure you have enough research to produce a strong paper.

What's Next?

Are you also learning about dynamic equilibrium in your science class? We break this sometimes tricky concept down so it's easy to understand in our complete guide to dynamic equilibrium .

Thinking about becoming a nurse practitioner? Nurse practitioners have one of the fastest growing careers in the country, and we have all the information you need to know about what to expect from nurse practitioner school .

Want to know the fastest and easiest ways to convert between Fahrenheit and Celsius? We've got you covered! Check out our guide to the best ways to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit (or vice versa).

These recommendations are based solely on our knowledge and experience. If you purchase an item through one of our links, PrepScholar may receive a commission.

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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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How to Select a Research Topic: A Step-by-Step Guide

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by  Antony W

June 6, 2024

how to select a research topic

Learning how to select a research topic can be the difference between failing your assignment and writing a comprehensive research paper. That’s why in this guide we’ll teach you how to select a research topic step-by-step.

You don’t need this guide if your professor has already given you a list of topics to consider for your assignment . You can skip to our guide on how to write a research paper .

If they have left it up to you to choose a topic to investigate, which they must approve before you start working on your research study, we suggest that you read the process shared in this post.

Choosing a topic after finding your research problem is important because:

  • The topic guides your research and gives you a mean to not only arrive at other interesting topics but also direct you to discover new knowledge
  • The topic you choose will govern what you say and ensures you keep a logical flow of information.

Picking a topic for a research paper can be challenging and sometimes intimidating, but it’s not impossible. In the following section, we show you how to choose the best research topic that your instructor can approve after the first review.

How to Select a Research Topic 

Below are four steps to follow to find the most suitable topic for your research paper assignment:

Step 1: Consider a Topic that Interests You 

how to find a topic for research paper

If your professor has asked you to choose a topic for your research paper, it means you can choose just about any subject to focus on in your area of study. A significant first step to take is to consider topics that interest you.

An interesting topic should meet two very important conditions.

First, it should be concise. The topic you choose should not be too broad or two narrow. Rather, it should be something focused on a specific issue. Second, the topic should allow you to find enough sources to cite in the research stage of your assignment.

The best way to determine if the research topic is interesting is to do some free writing for about 10 minutes. As you free write, think about the number of questions that people ask about the topic and try to consider why they’re important. These questions are important because they will make the research stage easier for you.

You’ll probably have a long list of interesting topics to consider for your research assignment. That’s a good first step because it means your options aren’t limited. However, you need to narrow down to only one topic for the assignment, so it’s time to start brainstorming.

Step 2: Brainstorm Your Topics 

how to find a topic for research paper

You aren’t doing research at this stage yet. You are only trying to make considerations to determine which topic will suit your research assignment.

The brainstorming stage isn’t difficult at all. It should take only a couple of hours or a few days depending on how you approach.

We recommend talking to your professor, classmates, and friends about the topics that you’ve picked and ask for their opinion. Expect mixed opinions from this audience and then consider the topics that make the most sense. Note what topics picked their interest the most and put them on top of the list.

You’ll end up removing some topics from your initial list after brainstorming, and that’s completely fine. The goal here is to end up with a topic that interests you as well as your readers.

Step 3: Define Your Topics 

how to find a topic for research paper

Check once again to make sure that your topic is a subject that you can easily define. You want to make sure the topic isn’t too broad or too narrow.

Often, a broad topic presents overwhelming amount of information, which makes it difficult to write a comprehensive research paper. A narrow topic, on the other hand, means you’ll find very little information, and therefore it can be difficult to do your assignment.

The length of the research paper, as stated in the assignment brief, should guide your topic selection.

Narrow down your list to topics that are:

  • Broad enough to allows you to find enough scholarly articles and journals for reference
  • Narrow enough to fit within the expected word count and the scope of the research

Topics that meet these two conditions should be easy to work on as they easily fit within the constraints of the research assignment.

Step 4: Read Background Information of Selected Topics  

how to find a topic for research paper

You probably have two or three topics by the time you get to this step. Now it’s time to read the background information on the topics to decide which topic to work on.

This step is important because it gives you a clear overview of the topic, enabling you to see how it relates to broader, narrower, and related concepts. Preliminary research also helps you to find keywords commonly used to describe the topic, which may be useful in further research.

It’s important to note how easy or difficult it is to find information on the topic.

Look at different sources of information to be sure you can find enough references for the topic. Such periodic indexes scan journals, newspaper articles, and magazines to find the information you’re looking for. You can even use web search engines. Google and Bing are currently that best options to consider because they make it easy for searchers to find relevant information on scholarly topics.

If you’re having a hard time to find references for a topic that you’ve so far considered for your research paper, skip it and go to the next one. Doing so will go a long way to ensure you have the right topic to work on from start to finish.

Get Research Paper Writing Help 

If you’ve found your research topic but you feel so stuck that you can’t proceed with the assignment without some assistance, we are here to help. With our research paper writing service ,  we can help you handle the assignment within the shortest time possible.

We will research your topic, develop a research question, outline the project, and help you with writing. We also get you involved in the process, allowing you to track the progress of your order until the delivery stage.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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How to Write a Research Paper: Choosing Your Topic

Choosing Your Topic

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  • Choose a topic you are interested in, and can find information about.
  • Your opinion of the topic might change as you conduct your research and find out more about the subject.
  • Choose a topic that is not too broad or too narrow. The first will be hard to keep focused and the second might be hard to find information about.

Rethinking Your Topic

You may discover that you’re looking for information by search terms that are not the most effective. Databases use search terminology called Subject Terms . Find these descriptive words to help with your search. For example: "death penalty" is often classified as "capital punishment."

Write all of those search terms down to keep track of them. These terms might give you new ways of thinking about your topic.. Maybe come up with a question or two for things you’re curious about. Those questions will help you focus your paper.

Narrowing Your Topic

After you have found some information, try to narrow your topic. If your topic is too broad, it will be hard to keep a focus in your paper and the information range will be too large. Adjust your topic to a topic field that is specific enough to research without having large amounts of articles, but still general enough to have some relevant information sources.

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How to Choose and Develop a Research Topic: Ideas and Examples

Discover strategies for choosing and developing a compelling research topic. Generate ideas, refine your topic, and conduct effective research.

How to Choose and Develop a Research Topic: Ideas and Examples

Kate Windsor

Jun 26, 2024

How to Choose and Develop a Research Topic: Ideas and Examples

Selecting the right research paper topic is a crucial step in the research process. A well-chosen topic can lay the foundation for a successful research project, while a poorly chosen one can lead to frustration and wasted effort. Choosing an interesting research topic can be challenging, especially for those new to the research field. 

This article aims to provide guidance and inspiration for researchers seeking to choose and develop a compelling research topic and/or topics to write. 

mobile mockup listening.com

Understanding the Characteristics of a Good Research Topic

A good research topic should possess several key characteristics:

  • Originality and novelty: The topic should contribute new knowledge or insights to the field, rather than simply rehashing existing research.
  • **Feasibility and relevance: **The topic should be feasible to research within the given timeframe and resources, and relevant to the researcher's field of study.
  • **Significance and impact: **The topic should have the potential to make a significant impact on the field and contribute to the advancement of knowledge.

Strategies for Generating Research Topic Ideas

Generating research topic ideas or thinking of topics to write a research on can be a daunting task, but there are several strategies that can help:

Brainstorming Techniques

  • Mind mapping: Create a visual representation of your ideas and how they connect to each other.
  • Freewriting: Write down your thoughts and ideas without censoring yourself, and then review what you've written to identify potential topics.
  • Questioning: Ask yourself questions about your field of study, such as "What are the current gaps in knowledge?" or "What are the most pressing issues facing the field?".

Exploring Personal Interests and Experiences

Your personal interests and experiences can be a rich source of inspiration for research topics. Consider what you are passionate about and how it intersects with your field of study for your research paper ideas. Choose a topic that interests you.

Keeping Up with Current Trends and Developments

  • Reading academic journals and publications: Stay up-to-date with the latest research in your field by regularly reading academic journals and publications.
  • Attending conferences and seminars: Attend conferences and seminars to learn about current trends and developments in your field, and to network with other researchers.

Seeking Inspiration from AI for Research

AI for research can be a valuable tool for generating research topic ideas. AI algorithms can analyze vast amounts of data and identify patterns and trends that may not be immediately apparent to human researchers.

Easily pronounces technical words in any field

Narrowing Down and Refining Your Research Topic

Once you have generated some potential research topics, the next step is to narrow down and refine your topic:

  • Identifying a broad area of interest: Start by identifying a broad area of interest within your field of study.
  • Conducting preliminary research: Conduct preliminary research to gain a better understanding of the existing research in your area of interest.
  • Formulating a specific research question: Formulate a specific research question that addresses a gap in the existing research or explores a new angle on a familiar topic. This research question will serve as the basis for your thesis or thesis statement.
  • Considering the scope and feasibility of the topic: Consider the scope and feasibility of your topic, taking into account the timeframe and resources available to you.
  • Ensuring the topic aligns with the requirements of your research paper or scientific paper: Make sure your topic aligns with the requirements of your research paper or scientific paper, such as word count, formatting, and citation style.

Developing Your Research Topic

Once you have narrowed down and refined your research topic, the next step is to develop it further:

Conducting a Literature Review

  • Identifying key sources and references: Identify the key sources and references in your field of study that are relevant to your research topic.
  • Synthesizing and analyzing existing research: Synthesize and analyze the existing research to identify gaps in knowledge and potential areas for further exploration.

Formulating Hypotheses or Research Objectives

Formulate hypotheses or research objectives based on your analysis of the existing research and your own insights and observations.

Defining Key Concepts and Variables

Define the key concepts and variables that are central to your research topic, and operationalize them in a way that is measurable and testable.

Outlining the Research Methodology

Outline the research methodology you will use to investigate your research topic, including data collection methods, sampling strategies, and data analysis techniques.

Tips on How to Write Faster and Efficiently

Writing a research paper can be a time-consuming process, but there are several tips and strategies that can help you  write faster and more efficiently:

  • Break your writing into manageable chunks and set achievable goals for each writing session.
  • Use outlines and mind maps to organize your thoughts and ideas before you start writing.
  • Minimize distractions by finding a quiet workspace and turning off notifications on your devices.
  • Take regular breaks to recharge and avoid burnout.
  • Utilize writing tools and software, such as Grammarly or Scrivener , to streamline your writing process and improve the quality of your work.

Research Topic Ideas and Examples

Here are some examples of research topics in various fields of study:

Social Sciences

  • The impact of social media on interpersonal relationships
  • The role of education in reducing income inequality

Natural Sciences

  • Exploring the potential of renewable energy sources
  • Investigating the effects of climate change on biodiversity
  • Analyzing the influence of popular culture on literature
  • Examining the evolution of language in the digital age

Business and Economics

  • The impact of remote work on employee productivity and job satisfaction
  • Investigating the role of corporate social responsibility in consumer decision-making

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Research Topic

When choosing a research topic, there are several common mistakes to avoid:

  • **Choosing a topic that is too broad or too narrow: **A topic that is too broad may lack focus and depth, while a topic that is too narrow may limit the potential impact and significance of the research.
  • Failing to consider the relevance and significance of the topic: A topic that is not relevant or significant to the field may not be worth researching, even if it is personally interesting to the researcher.
  • **Neglecting to conduct sufficient preliminary research: **Failing to conduct sufficient preliminary research can lead to a lack of understanding of the existing research in the field, and may result in a topic that has already been thoroughly explored by other researchers. This can lead to wasted time and effort, as well as a lack of originality in the research.
  • I**gnoring the importance of a well-crafted research paper title: **A well-crafted  research paper title can help to attract readers and convey the significance of the research. Ignoring the importance of the title can lead to a lack of engagement with the research.  A strong title should be concise, informative, and engaging, accurately reflecting the content and purpose of the research.

Choosing and developing a research topic is a crucial step in the research process, and one that requires careful consideration and planning. By understanding the characteristics of a good research topic, employing strategies for generating ideas, narrowing down and refining your topic, and developing it further through a literature review and research methodology, you can set yourself up for success in your research endeavors.

While the process of topic selection can be challenging, it is also an opportunity to explore your passions and interests, and to contribute new knowledge and insights to your field of study. By investing time and effort in selecting a compelling and feasible research topic, you can lay the foundation for a good research paper and a successful and impactful research project. 

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How to find Research Papers: A Cheat Sheet for Graduate Students

Aruna Kumarasiri

  • July 23, 2022

How to find research papers

“I will read this paper later.” I thought to myself before adding another paper to my overflowing internet browser.

Of course, I didn’t read it later.

Since my workflow was unorganized, I missed out on reading many important papers.

This was a crucial period in my undergraduate career. I had been working with a company for my final year project and knew success would require a solid intellectual foundation. For many hours, I read papers, determined to master the literature in my field.

“How to find research papers quickly?” has been a never-ending question for me.

How to find research papers_meme

However, I was unable to succeed despite my best intentions, largely due to inefficiency. In addition, I did not have a system in place for keeping track of new papers being published daily in my topic area or checking if I had missed key studies.

Nothing is worse than forgetting where you saved an important research paper. If I couldn’t find that specific paper, I couldn’t do anything else, and sometimes a day would pass before I found it.

As I was about to begin my PhD, I convinced myself that I should be more organized.

This is the first post of the four-part blog series:  The Bulletproof Literature Management System . Follow the links below to read the other posts in the series:

  • How to How to find Research Papers (You are here)
  • How to Manage Research Papers
  • How to Read Research Papers
  • How to Organize Research Papers

My workflow has evolved through many iterations, and I have finally found a system that suits my needs after lots of trial and error.

These tips will help you how to find research papers quickly and more efficiently.

Get recommendations from your supervisor

You may have already received a folder of information from your supervisor regarding your thesis topic. Your supervisor should have already been working on the proposal before you were hired for a funded project.

My supervisor, for example, has a folder named “Literature” for each project folder that contains all the important papers one might need to complete that project.

Therefore, asking your supervisor is one of the most straightforward ways to find research papers.

Even though your supervisor has not put up a folder like that, you can still ask them for recommendations, and they can point out a couple of pertinent articles. From there, you can find the references in the papers they recommended.

Use feed aggregators

Feed aggregators, such as Feedly , Inoreader , and NewsBlur , help me organize my feeds. In the morning, I dedicate five minutes to scanning my feed. For most papers, I just glance at the title and scroll past. Whenever I come across something interesting, I add it to my ‘Read Later’ folder.

Instead of storing papers in an unsecured location, my papers are more secure. As a result, it is much easier for me to look at that folder later on.

Use literature mapping tools

ResearchRabbit , Inciteful , Litmaps , and Connected Papers are literature-mapping tools you can use to dig deeper into a topic. It lets you see which papers are the most groundbreaking in a given field based on their citation networks.

This might not be very helpful if you’re doing research in a relatively new area. Finding relevant research papers in such cases may be more challenging.

This is why checking research databases would be a better option.

Use standard research databases

Scopus has strong searching capabilities and publishes metrics that can measure the relative importance of papers in their fields. However, it may take up to 2 years before an article is included in Scopus.

It has more features for sorting and filtering, so you might not feel overwhelmed when searching.

Therefore, if you are just starting your research, SCOPUS might be an excellent option for finding research papers.


In addition to traditional searching for publications, ResearchGate offers the following features:

  • Follow researchers in your field, so you can keep up with their work.
  • Keep up-to-date with the research projects of other researchers by following their research projects, and
  • Comment on publications, ask questions, and send direct messages to interact with others.

As most of the comments on ResearchGate are coming from experts in their respective fields, the QnA section may be a great resource for finding the right paper for your research.

An RSS(Really Simple Syndication) feed, as the name implies, is a straightforward solution. By subscribing to RSS, users can access content from specific websites.

You can find RSS feeds for nearly every major journal and preprint server on their home pages – just look for the orange icon. As new articles are added to PubMed or Google Scholar, you can even subscribe to specific keywords.

Use academic textbooks the right way

If you are new to a particular research area, it would be best to start by reading textbooks to understand the topic better.

Despite the lack of depth and detail in a textbook, it can provide you with the basic concepts you need to read further. Furthermore, textbooks often include extensive lists of references as well as this information to get you started . Download the relevant articles from these references.

You might feel overwhelmed if you try to read an academic textbook from beginning to end. For this reason, read only the sections which contain the information you need for your project.

Review papers are game changers

A review paper on your topic is a great starting point for finding good references and getting a broad overview of your research topic.

After reading the review paper, you can read the references cited therein.

You are reading a much more comprehensive summary of the topic than you would have found reading ten individual research papers on the same topic if you found a highly relevant review paper for your research.

Look for technical reports and theses

Make sure you don’t limit yourself to research papers when looking for references. A technical report or code document on your topic may contain important citations (as well as practical information).

There is nothing that compares to a PhD thesis when it comes to the depth and extent of analytical work. See which references students have cited in their theses on your topic.

If you find a relevant thesis for your literature review, you will have extensive information about the research topic in one place, saving you a ton of time.

Google Scholar

The best for the last!

Due to its versatility and efficiency in finding academic papers, I decided to include Google Scholar separately from the database section.

I enjoy using Google Scholar among all the fancy databases available. One drawback to Google Scholar is that it lacks the ability to search for keywords and filter results.

Therefore, if you are just starting your research and aren’t sure what “keywords” to search for, Google Scholar might not be your first choice.

The advantage of Google Scholar is that if you are already familiar with your field of study and already know what you are doing, you will be able to find relevant research papers more quickly.

Use Google Scholar’s search function to locate relevant articles. Furthermore, you can subscribe to updates from colleagues in your field to access the latest references. The publisher of a journal paper may also report an article faster to Google Scholar than another database, which can take up to two years to include an article.

Images courtesy: Internet marketing vector created by jcomp – www.freepik.com

Aruna Kumarasiri

Aruna Kumarasiri

Founder at Proactive Grad, Materials Engineer, Researcher, and turned author. In 2019, he started his professional carrier as a materials engineer with the continuation of his research studies. His exposure to both academic and industrial worlds has provided many opportunities for him to give back to young professionals.

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Research Process

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Finding a Research Topic

Which step of the research process takes the most time?

A. Finding a topic B. Researching a topic C. Both

How did you answer the above question? Do you spend most of your efforts actually researching a topic, or do you spend a lot of time and energy finding a topic? Ideally, you’ll want to spend fairly equal amounts of effort on both. Finding an appropriate and manageable topic can sometimes be just as hard as researching a topic.

A good research topic will have a body of related research which is accessible and manageable. Identifying a topic with these characteristics at the beginning  of the research process will ultimately save you time.

Finding a research topic that is interesting, relevant, feasible, and worthy of your time may take substantial effort so you should be prepared to invest your time accordingly. Considering your options, doing some background work on each option, and ultimately settling on a topic that is manageable will spare you many of the frustrations that come from attempting research on a topic that, for whatever reason, may not be appropriate.

Remember that as you are searching for a research topic you will need to be able to find enough information about your topic(s) in a book or scholarly journal. If you can only find information about your topic(s) in current event sources (newspapers, magazines, etc.) then the topic might be too new to have a large body of published scholarly information. If this is the case, you may want to reconsider the topic(s).

So how do you find a research topic? Unfortunately there’s no directory of topics that you pick and choose from, but there are a few relatively easy techniques that you can use to find a relevant and manageable topic. A good starting point may be to view the Library's Resources for Finding a Research Topic Workshop below.

The sub-pages in this section (on the left-hand menu) offer various tips for where and how to locate resources to develop your research topic. And for additional information on selecting a research topic, see the resources below.

  • Defining a Topic - SAGE Research Methods
  • Develop My Research Idea - Academic Writer Note: You MUST create an Academic Writer account AND start a paper in order to access this tool. Once you have done so, open a paper and click Research Lab Book in the left navigation menu.
  • The Process for Developing Questions - ASC Guide

Resources for Finding a Research Topic Workshop

This workshop will introduce you to library resources which can be used to locate potential topics for a research paper or dissertation. This workshop explores websites, reference books, and scholarly articles, as well as review criteria to consider when selecting a topic.

  • Resources for Finding a Research Topic Workshop Outline

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  • Last Updated: Jun 12, 2024 1:44 PM
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How to Craft Your Ideal Thesis Research Topic

How to Craft Your Ideal Thesis Research Topic

Table of contents

how to find a topic for research paper

Catherine Miller

Writing your undergraduate thesis is probably one of the most interesting parts of studying, especially because you get to choose your area of study. But as both a student and a teacher who’s helped countless students develop their research topics, I know this freedom can be just as intimidating as it is liberating.

Fortunately, there’a a step-by-step process you can follow that will help make the whole process a lot easier. In this article, I’ll show you how to choose a unique, specific thesis topic that’s true to your passions and interests, while making a contribution to your field.

how to find a topic for research paper

Choose a topic that you’re interested in

First things first: double-check with your teachers or supervisor if there are any constraints on your research topic. Once your parameters are clear, it’s time to identify what lights you up — after all, you’re going to be spending a lot of time thinking about it.

Within your field of study, you probably already have some topics that have grabbed your attention more than others. This can be a great place to start. Additionally, consider using the rest of your academic and extra-curricular interests as a source of ideas. At this stage, you only need a broad topic before you narrow it down to a specific question. 

If you’re feeling stuck, here are some things to try:

  • Look back through old course notes to remind yourself of topics you previously covered. Do any of these inspire you?
  • Talk to potential supervisors about your ideas, as they can point you toward areas you might not have considered.
  • Think about the things you enjoy in everyday life — whether that’s cycling, cinema, cooking, or fashion — then consider if there are any overlaps with your field of study.
  • Imagine you have been asked to give a presentation or record a podcast in the next three days. What topics would you feel confident discussing?
  • Watch a selection of existing lectures or explainer videos, or listen to podcasts by experts in your field. Note which topics you feel curious to explore further.
  • Discuss your field of study with teachers friends and family, some with existing knowledge and some without. Which aspects do you enjoy talking about? 

By doing all this, you might uncover some unusual and exciting avenues for research. For example, when writing my Master’s dissertation, I decided to combine my field of study (English teaching methodology) with one of my passions outside work (creative writing). In my undergraduate course, a friend drew on her lived experience of disability to look into the literary portrayal of disability in the ancient world. 

Do your research

Once you’ve chosen your topic of interest, it’s time to dive into research. This is a really important part of this early process because it allows you to:

  • See what other people have written about the topic — you don’t want to cover the same old ground as everyone else.
  • Gain perspective on the big questions surrounding the topic. 
  • Go deeper into the parts that interest you to help you decide where to focus.
  • Start building your bibliography and a bank of interesting quotations. 

A great way to start is to visit your library for an introductory book. For example, the “A Very Short Introduction” series from the Oxford University Press provides overviews of a range of themes. Similar types of overviews may have the title “ A Companion to [Subject]” or “[Subject] A Student Companion”. Ask your librarian or teacher if you’re not sure where to begin. 

Your introductory volume can spark ideas for further research, and the bibliography can give you some pointers about where to go next. You can also use keywords to research online via academic sites like JStor or Google Scholar. Check which subscriptions are available via your institution.

At this stage, you may not wish to read every single paper you come across in full — this could take a very long time and not everything will be relevant. Summarizing software like Wordtune could be very useful here.

Just upload a PDF or link to an online article using Wordtune, and it will produce a summary of the whole paper with a list of key points. This helps you to quickly sift through papers to grasp their central ideas and identify which ones to read in full. 

Screenshot of Wordtune's summarizing tool

Get Wordtune for free > Get Wordtune for free >

You can also use Wordtune for semantic search. In this case, the tool focuses its summary around your chosen search term, making it even easier to get what you need from the paper.

how to find a topic for research paper

As you go, make sure you keep organized notes of what you’ve read, including the author and publication information and the page number of any citations you want to use. 

Some people are happy to do this process with pen and paper, but if you prefer a digital method, there are several software options, including Zotero , EndNote , and Mendeley . Your institution may have an existing subscription so check before you sign up.

Narrowing down your thesis research topic

Now you’ve read around the topic, it’s time to narrow down your ideas so you can craft your final question. For example, when it came to my undergraduate thesis, I knew I wanted to write about Ancient Greek religion and I was interested in the topic of goddesses. So, I:

  • Did some wide reading around the topic of goddesses
  • Learned that the goddess Hera was not as well researched as others and that there were some fascinating aspects I wanted to explore
  • Decided (with my supervisor’s support) to focus on her temples in the Argive region of Greece

how to find a topic for research paper

As part of this process, it can be helpful to consider the “5 Ws”: why, what, who, when, and where, as you move from the bigger picture to something more precise. 

Why did you choose this research topic?

Come back to the reasons you originally chose your theme. What grabbed you? Why is this topic important to you — or to the wider world? In my example, I knew I wanted to write about goddesses because, as a woman, I was interested in how a society in which female lives were often highly controlled dealt with having powerful female deities. My research highlighted Hera as one of the most powerful goddesses, tying into my key interest.

What are some of the big questions about your topic?

During your research, you’ll probably run into the same themes time and time again. Some of the questions that arise may not have been answered yet or might benefit from a fresh look. 

Equally, there may be questions that haven’t yet been asked, especially if you are approaching the topic from a modern perspective or combining research that hasn’t been considered before. This might include taking a post-colonial, feminist, or queer approach to older texts or bringing in research using new scientific methods.

In my example, I knew there were still controversies about why so many temples to the goddess Hera were built in a certain region, and was keen to explore these further.

Who is the research topic relevant to?

Considering the “who” might help you open up new avenues. Is there a particular audience you want to reach? What might they be interested in? Is this a new audience for this field? Are there people out there who might be affected by the outcome of this research — for example, people with a particular medical condition — who might be able to use your conclusions?

Which period will you focus on?

Depending on the nature of your field, you might be able to choose a timeframe, which can help narrow the topic down. For example, you might focus on historical events that took place over a handful of years, look at the impact of a work of literature at a certain point after its publication, or review scientific progress over the last five years. 

With my thesis, I decided to focus on the time when the temples were built rather than considering the hundreds of years for which they have existed, which would have taken me far too long.

Where does your topic relate to?

Place can be another means of narrowing down the topic. For example, consider the impact of your topic on a particular neighborhood, city, or country, rather than trying to process a global question. 

In my example, I chose to focus my research on one area of Greece, where there were lots of temples to Hera. This meant skipping other important locations, but including these would have made the thesis too wide-ranging.

Create an outline and get feedback

Once you have an idea of what you are going to write about, create an outline or summary and get feedback from your teacher(s). It’s okay if you don’t know exactly how you’re going to answer your thesis question yet, but based on your research you should have a rough plan of the key points you want to cover. So, for me, the outline was as follows:

  • Context: who was the goddess Hera?
  • Overview of her sanctuaries in the Argive region
  • Their initial development 
  • Political and cultural influences
  • The importance of the mythical past

In the final thesis, I took a strong view on why the goddess was so important in this region, but it took more research, writing, and discussion with my supervisor to pin down my argument.

To choose a thesis research topic, find something you’re passionate about, research widely to get the big picture, and then move to a more focused view. Bringing a fresh perspective to a popular theme, finding an underserved audience who could benefit from your research, or answering a controversial question can make your thesis stand out from the crowd.

For tips on how to start writing your thesis, don’t miss our advice on writing a great research abstract and a stellar literature review . And don’t forget that Wordtune can also support you with proofreading, making it even easier to submit a polished thesis.

How do you come up with a research topic for a thesis?

To help you find a thesis topic, speak to your professor, look through your old course notes, think about what you already enjoy in everyday life, talk about your field of study with friends and family, and research podcasts and videos to find a topic that is interesting for you. It’s a good idea to refine your topic so that it’s not too general or broad.  

Do you choose your own thesis topic?

Yes, you usually choose your own thesis topic. You can get help from your professor(s), friends, and family to figure out which research topic is interesting to you. 

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How to generate topic ideas for research papers (5 tips)

How to generate topic ideas for research papers

Before you can successfully write a research paper , you need to decide on a compelling and manageable topic. In this post, we discuss five tips for generating research paper topics.

1. Make a list of your interests

If you have the opportunity to choose your own topic, it’s a great idea to start with your personal interests. Make a list of your interests on one half of a sheet of paper. Then, on the other half, list the wider social, historical, or intellectual concepts that correspond to your interest.

For example, if you really like cats, you might think about connecting your interest in cats to broader societal issues like animal rights, the state of domestic animal shelters, or even the relationship between modern domestic cats and their larger ancestors.

2. Use Wikipedia

Although your instructor will likely discourage you from using Wikipedia as a source for your paper, it’s a great tool for generating topic ideas . Most Wikipedia entries include introductory paragraphs that contain valuable, alternative keywords and phrases for the subject. Once you’ve taken note of those, you can use them to conduct more systematic research.

Additionally, many Wikipedia articles include both reference lists of the sources that were cited in the article and further reading sections. Many of the sources that are cited in Wikipedia are peer-reviewed, which means that you can use them in your paper.

3. Do preliminary research

If you have a general idea of what you want to write about, you can conduct some preliminary research in order to formulate a more specific topic. Use your school library’s databases or Google scholar to search for peer-reviewed books or articles on your tentative topic.

The strongest topics are those that respond to gaps or puzzles within existing scholarly research . When you have a basic understanding of the current research, you can more easily narrow or broaden your topic idea.

Occasionally, preliminary research may prompt you to change your topic completely. You may find that your original idea is not feasible. This can save you a lot of time later on when you are actually drafting your paper.

4. Ask a librarian

Librarians can help you at any stage of the research process. You might consider scheduling a research consultation with a librarian to help with generating keywords and phrases or with narrowing down topic ideas.

Librarians can also help you conduct preliminary research. They know which databases or websites are best for finding credible sources. Additionally, librarians can assist with citing your sources when it’s time to create your citations and bibliography.

You can also use BibGuru’s citation generator to automatically create citations in whatever style your instructor requires.

5. Consult your class notes

If you’ve taken good notes during class, then you might want to return to them when it’s time to come up with topic ideas. Look back at places in the textbook that you highlighted or at any notes that you marked as interesting or perplexing.

If you’re thinking ahead and want to take notes that you can use later on, consider using a two-column approach. In one column, record your actual notes from class discussions, textbooks, or homework. In the second column, pull out quotes or ideas that seem particularly thought-provoking. These can easily become the seeds for research paper topic ideas.

Frequently Asked Questions about how to generate topic ideas for research papers

A research topic is the general subject of a research paper. Your overall topic determines the shape of your primary research question and thesis statement.

You can generate research topics by doing preliminary research, consulting with a librarian, or evaluating your personal interests.

If you are able to choose your own topic, you might consider making a list of your own interests and then translating those items into wider social issues. For example, if you really like cats, you might think about connecting your interest in cats to broader societal issues like animal rights.

The first step in choosing a topic is to establish whether your idea is feasible within the scope of the assignment. For instance, if you are writing an argumentative paper, you’ll need to be sure that your topic is actually arguable.

The strongest topics are those that respond to gaps or puzzles within existing scholarly research. When you have a basic understanding of the current research, you can more easily narrow or broaden your topic idea.

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Tress Academic

researcher thinking about paper topic

#103: How to find a paper topic

November 2, 2021 by Tress Academic

Is writing a journal paper high up on your agenda? Then one of the first questions to clarify is what you’re going to write about. What is the topic of your paper? We know identifying a topic can sometimes be a painful process. Therefore, we’ve provided 10 ideas for how you can find the topic for your next journal paper.    

Why can’t you just sit down and write about what comes to mind? Isn’t writing a creative process? You’re a lucky writer if you can both be in the mood for writing at all, and actually have the time to do it. Choosing a topic isn’t all that difficult, right? 

Well, yes, but you’ll soon realise that writing a paper is more than just sitting down and typing something on your laptop. You need to know what you want to say, what knowledge you want to report, and what discussion you want to stimulate. And you need to know whether what you want to write about has a chance of getting published or whether it’s suitable for journal publication. Journals don’t accept just any topic. 

We think it’s worth spending a bit of time choosing a good topic for your next paper. Here, we suggest 10 ideas on how to identify a topic and provide a free worksheet “Identify your paper topic” to help you further. 

how to find a topic for research paper

1. Get inspired by other papers

If you want to write a journal paper, why not first look into the journals in your field and read some of the published papers? Find out how they’re written, what and how much they cover, how they’re structured, and consider if you could do something similar. Reading other papers can provide great inspiration for what you could write. 

2. Browse for open questions

Are there any open questions in your field that you could address in a paper? You have probably worked on one such question, and could provide some valuable input in a paper. Think about questions that are burning in your field but still remain open, and what you could contribute to advance the field. 

3. Review your research notes

Make a quick overview of the research you have done so far. Which questions have you been working on and what have you found? Look through your lab book, the draft results, or the data you’ve collected—is there anything that could be turned into a paper? Do you have any unpublished findings or materials that you never published although they would be suitable for a paper?

how to find a topic for research paper

4. Go for something that interests you

You’ll have the greatest motivation to write a paper if it’s about a topic that really interests you. So find out what the cool questions are you’re working on and which ones you’re burning to answer most. Start working on such a topic. When you’re motivated and interested, you’re willing to invest a bit more time into this paper, you’ll write a better paper, and finish it earlier. 

5. Browse for review paper topics

If you’re in the early stages of a research project, or if you gained a good overview of a specific research question or field through an extensive literature study, consider writing a review paper. You can systematically summarise your knowledge in this field and make it available to peers. 

6. Look for novel aspects in your research

Focus on the aspects of your research that are new. What have you done that other studies have not done yet? It doesn’t have to be something groundbreaking, but if there’s a novel element in your research, use it as a starting point for a paper. This novel aspect is an important advantage of your research compared to others.  

7. Connect to existing research

Your research is most likely embedded in a wider field, and you’re not the only one working in it. This can be an advantage as well. Think about how your research is linked to other studies. You can probably connect with previously published work and further develop their thoughts, or provide additional confirming results or even new findings—each case would be a good basis for your paper. 

how to find a topic for research paper

8. Focus on what you can deliver

Sometimes you have too many ideas about papers that you want to write, but some of these papers would require additional research, or at least substantial literature search and study. A more pragmatic approach is to focus on what you’ve got on your plate already. It might not be related to the coolest and hottest questions in your fieldt, but it’s something that you can write about because you’ve already got it. You only need to utilize it! 

9. Look for a call for papers and special issues 

Sometimes, journals initiate a call for papers on a specific subject, or they plan a complete special issue of their journal. These are attractive offers for you as an author. If you have been working on a topic related to such a call, you would not only have an incentive to write a paper now, but also have an indication of which journal you could submit to. As they are calling for papers on a specific topic, they have a particular interest in papers in that specific field. 

10. Talk to a colleague or supervisor

When brainstorming possible ideas for a paper topic, it can be helpful to discuss these ideas with a fellow colleague or a supervisor. By explaining ideas to them, you will learn how plausible and convincing some of the ideas are, and which ideas ultimately aren’t as suitable for your next paper as you originally thought. Having these collegial sparring partners is valuable—you will for sure get helpful feedback from them to fine-tune one of your paper ideas. 

In an ideal world, the topic for your next paper would originate organically from the research that you just completed. You did this project and therefore, you’re going to write a paper about it. If it works out like this for you, great, do it! But sometimes, everyday life as a researcher is far from ideal. Projects don’t always progress as you want, they’re delayed or scrapped completely, but you nonetheless want to produce a research output: a journal paper. 

And when you’re at the beginning of your career as a researcher, you probably don’t have so many alternative projects to fall back on to identify a topic for your next paper. But this doesn’t mean you cannot publish. The 10 suggestions described above will help you to come up with topics for your next paper, even if everyday research is not progressing as you had planned. You can still write a paper. Consider the 10 suggestions carefully, and you’ll see there is for sure an option for you to get your next paper started. To help you further, we’ve created a free worksheet with questions you can ask yourself to identify a possible topic for the paper. 

P.S. What often helps us to find a topic for a publication is to go for a walk outside and brainstorm possible topics. It’s sometimes easier to leave the office and do the thought exercise outside. Or you can go to a cafe or a bar and think about it there. For example, deciding on the topic of this blog post (as well as the entire writing of it) happened on a business trip in the bar of a hotel in Berlin. Sometimes it just helps to go somewhere else to come up with a good idea and make it a reality. 

Relevant resources: 

  • Worksheet “Identify your paper topic”
  • Blog post #79: 5 decisions that make writing your paper so much easier
  • Blog post #66: Writer’s block: Stuck on your paper, with no idea how to move forward?  
  • Blog post #64: How to work on your paper without struggle
  • Blog post #5: How to get started with writing papers?

More information

Do you want to successfully write and publish a journal paper? If so, please sign up to receive our free guides.

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Q. How can I choose a good topic for my research paper?

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Answered By: Woodruff Library Reference Last Updated: Mar 12, 2024     Views: 591928

How do you decide what to write about when confronted with a research paper? You want a focused topic!

Here are some things to consider:

  • Make sure your topic meets the assignment requirements. Ask your professor for feedback if you are unsure.
  • Choose a topic that is interesting to you.  It may seem obvious, but this will make the research process more fun and engaging for you.
  • Consider the scope of your topic. If your topic is too broad it may be hard to find information that is focused and relevant; if your topic is too narrow it may be hard to find any information at all.

Here's one strategy for developing a research topic once you have a broad topic in mind:

  • Background research will help you develop your topic and hone or change it in more appropriate ways.  Knowing more about your topic's background can only help you develop a more effective topic, and therefore, research paper.
  • Brainstorm concepts.  Once you think of a broad topic that interests you, try to brainstorm all of the words or concepts you can that might be related to that topic (and write them down!). For example, if your topic is "polar bears," you might think of the following words and topics in association: ice, cubs, pollution, hunting, diet, climate change, and environmental icon. 
  • Develop a research question . Once you have come up with a broad topic and done some background research, you may want to develop a research question, or a question you're going to answer in your paper by doing more, in-depth research.
  • What's your general approach to the topic?  Think about some general approaches that may help you further develop your topic: use a historical angle by focusing on a particular time period; a geographical angle, focusing on a particular part of the world; or a sociological angle, focusing on a particular group of people.
  • Start doing some exploratory, in-depth research. As you do more in-depth research, like looking for scholarly articles, books, and other sources to include in your paper, you can and probably will modify or refine your topic based on what you find.
  • Research is a dynamic process. Don't be afraid to discover new things and modify or refine your topic.

The topic development process will help you to develop your thesis , which is essentially your proposed answer to your research question. You will then be ready to use the sources you've found, and find more sources in order to support that thesis, or to answer your research question.

Here's an example of how the topic development process above can lead you to a thesis:

Resources that can help you develop your topic:

  • Your instructor, course readings, class notes, Wikipedia, and Google can all be helpful in terms of getting ideas for broad topics.
  • A Research Guide for a particular subject created by a subject librarian is great for helping you choose where to begin your research. These online guides will identify encyclopedias, books, databases, and other materials to help you get started with research. You can also ask a librarian at the Library Service Desk.
  • Library resources like Credo Reference Unlimited , Gale Virtual Reference Library ,  CQ Researcher and subject-specific encyclopedias can help you come up with topic ideas because they provide great overviews and introductions to topics. You can find links to these kinds of resources in the  Research Guides mentioned above. These will probably not be scholarly sources you can use in your paper, but they may lead you to more in-depth, scholarly resources that you will want to use in your paper.

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  • How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

Published on January 2, 2023 by Shona McCombes . Revised on September 11, 2023.

What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic .

There are five key steps to writing a literature review:

  • Search for relevant literature
  • Evaluate sources
  • Identify themes, debates, and gaps
  • Outline the structure
  • Write your literature review

A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes , and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.

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Table of contents

What is the purpose of a literature review, examples of literature reviews, step 1 – search for relevant literature, step 2 – evaluate and select sources, step 3 – identify themes, debates, and gaps, step 4 – outline your literature review’s structure, step 5 – write your literature review, free lecture slides, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions, introduction.

  • Quick Run-through
  • Step 1 & 2

When you write a thesis , dissertation , or research paper , you will likely have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to:

  • Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context
  • Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research
  • Position your work in relation to other researchers and theorists
  • Show how your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate
  • Evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.

Writing literature reviews is a particularly important skill if you want to apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.

Literature review guide

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Writing literature reviews can be quite challenging! A good starting point could be to look at some examples, depending on what kind of literature review you’d like to write.

  • Example literature review #1: “Why Do People Migrate? A Review of the Theoretical Literature” ( Theoretical literature review about the development of economic migration theory from the 1950s to today.)
  • Example literature review #2: “Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines” ( Methodological literature review about interdisciplinary knowledge acquisition and production.)
  • Example literature review #3: “The Use of Technology in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Thematic literature review about the effects of technology on language acquisition.)
  • Example literature review #4: “Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Chronological literature review about how the concept of listening skills has changed over time.)

You can also check out our templates with literature review examples and sample outlines at the links below.

Download Word doc Download Google doc

Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic .

If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research problem and questions .

Make a list of keywords

Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, and list any synonyms and related terms. You can add to this list as you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search.

  • Social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok
  • Body image, self-perception, self-esteem, mental health
  • Generation Z, teenagers, adolescents, youth

Search for relevant sources

Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:

  • Your university’s library catalogue
  • Google Scholar
  • Project Muse (humanities and social sciences)
  • Medline (life sciences and biomedicine)
  • EconLit (economics)
  • Inspec (physics, engineering and computer science)

You can also use boolean operators to help narrow down your search.

Make sure to read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.

You likely won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on your topic, so it will be necessary to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your research question.

For each publication, ask yourself:

  • What question or problem is the author addressing?
  • What are the key concepts and how are they defined?
  • What are the key theories, models, and methods?
  • Does the research use established frameworks or take an innovative approach?
  • What are the results and conclusions of the study?
  • How does the publication relate to other literature in the field? Does it confirm, add to, or challenge established knowledge?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?

Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.

You can use our template to summarize and evaluate sources you’re thinking about using. Click on either button below to download.

Take notes and cite your sources

As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.

It is important to keep track of your sources with citations to avoid plagiarism . It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography , where you compile full citation information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.

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To begin organizing your literature review’s argument and structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:

  • Trends and patterns (in theory, method or results): do certain approaches become more or less popular over time?
  • Themes: what questions or concepts recur across the literature?
  • Debates, conflicts and contradictions: where do sources disagree?
  • Pivotal publications: are there any influential theories or studies that changed the direction of the field?
  • Gaps: what is missing from the literature? Are there weaknesses that need to be addressed?

This step will help you work out the structure of your literature review and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to existing knowledge.

  • Most research has focused on young women.
  • There is an increasing interest in the visual aspects of social media.
  • But there is still a lack of robust research on highly visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat—this is a gap that you could address in your own research.

There are various approaches to organizing the body of a literature review. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).


The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order.

Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.

If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.

For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access.


If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. For example:

  • Look at what results have emerged in qualitative versus quantitative research
  • Discuss how the topic has been approached by empirical versus theoretical scholarship
  • Divide the literature into sociological, historical, and cultural sources


A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework . You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts.

You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.

Like any other academic text , your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion . What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.

The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.

Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.

As you write, you can follow these tips:

  • Summarize and synthesize: give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
  • Analyze and interpret: don’t just paraphrase other researchers — add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
  • Critically evaluate: mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
  • Write in well-structured paragraphs: use transition words and topic sentences to draw connections, comparisons and contrasts

In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.

When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Not a language expert? Check out Scribbr’s professional proofreading services !

This article has been adapted into lecture slides that you can use to teach your students about writing a literature review.

Scribbr slides are free to use, customize, and distribute for educational purposes.

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If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility


  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .

It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.

There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:

  • To familiarize yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic
  • To ensure that you’re not just repeating what others have already done
  • To identify gaps in knowledge and unresolved problems that your research can address
  • To develop your theoretical framework and methodology
  • To provide an overview of the key findings and debates on the topic

Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.

The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your thesis or dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .

A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other  academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .

An  annotated bibliography is a list of  source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a  paper .  

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McCombes, S. (2023, September 11). How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/dissertation/literature-review/

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How to Write Catchy Research Paper Titles with Examples

Hey there, fellow researchers! Have you ever felt the struggle of coming up with the perfect title for your paper? You’re not alone. The title is like the headline of your favorite news article – it’s got to be catchy yet informative. Let’s dive into some tips and tricks to ensure your title stands out in the academic crowd.

1. Why is the Research Paper Title Important?

Every word in your title is crucial. It’s the first thing a reviewer or reader will see, and it can determine whether your paper gets read or skipped.

✖ Title is too long, wordy, and confusing An In-depth Examination into The Overall Chance of Becoming a World-Renowned Athlete vs Getting an Executive Position in a Fortune 500 Company ✖ Title is written for a small group of readers Examining Humor in Asian Nations as Expressed in Instagram Videos ✔ Title is short and to the point Autonomous Cars: The Ethical Dilemma

A great title is a concise summary of your research and a sneak peek into your work’s unique aspects and main findings. It’s a balance between being specific and informative without overwhelming the reader with details.

2. Rules for Writing Good Titles

Rules for writing great titles are like rules for good writing in general. Let’s look at some basic rules to follow while crafting a fitting title for your research paper.

2.1 Be Specific and Avoid Being Generic

A generic title is broad, vague, and lacks specificity about the research findings. It does not highlight the research’s unique factors or the study’s contribution.

✖ Generic title An Analysis of Healthcare Data Privacy ✔ Improved title Assessing the Effectiveness of Encryption Techniques in Protecting User Data Privacy in a Healthcare Organization _ Focus of research _ Context _ Aspect being studied

2.2 Highlight Your Main Findings and Unique Aspects

Craft the perfect title using three steps.

2.3 Make it Concise and Short

While a five-word short title may seem ideal, when trying to include the specificity of focus, method, and context, you are likelier to have an 8-12 word title. This length is perfect for journal articles.

✖ Not concise A Comprehensive Examination of the Use and Impact of AI-Driven Predictive Analytics for Improving Patient Outcomes in Healthcare Settings Including Hospitals, Labs, Physician’s Offices and Primary Care Facilities ✔ Concise AI-Driven Predictive Analytics in Healthcare: Improving Patient Outcomes

2.4 Attract Attention to Your Work

You want people to be able to find your research article easily through a Google search. Specificity is essential. Using vague adjectives like novel or unique to describe a method doesn’t mean anything, and these words are not likely to be entered into a search bar. Ask yourself, what would the person likely type into the search bar?

✖ Title with poor searchability A Novel Technique for Learning Science ✔ Title with good searchability AI Driven Exercises for Elementary Science Classes

3. Common Questions

Many questions arise when writing an article title. We will answer some of the most common questions, starting with writing mechanics.

3.1 Should Titles be Grammatically Correct?

You might wonder if using prepositions (for, in, of, for, by) in a title is okay. The answer is yes. It is often necessary for the title to make sense and be grammatically correct. Using articles (the, a, an) correctly is also essential. Let’s look at some examples.

Please remember, a countable singular noun (factor, cause, risk) must be preceded by an article. Are verbs acceptable in titles?  Absolutely. Verbs make titles more dynamic.

Tip: Use the …ing form of verbs rather than vague nouns.
✖ Using abstract nouns The examination and categorization of educational software for high schools ✔ Replace abstract nouns with …ing form of verb Examining and categorizing educational software for high schools

Using verbs in the second example adds action words that depict the tasks performed in the study.

3.2 Can I Add Humor to My Title?

Humor can make a title more engaging and memorable, but it must be balanced with relevance to the research topic. The humor must not detract from the study’s credibility.

3.3 Can I Formulate My Paper Title as a Question?

Titles that ask questions are well-suited to abstracts submitted to conferences. Questioning titles are informal and catch the reader’s attention quickly.  The question must be aligned with the primary focus of the research.

Rule: A title can end with a question mark. However, no other punctuation is required at the end of a title.

3.4 What is the Difference Between Conference and Journal Titles?

When you submit an abstract to a conference, you want it noticed so it will be accepted as a presentation. However, you also hope it will be published in the conference proceedings. You want to attract attention, but the title can’t be too witty as to lose professionalism. Two-part titles work well to blend fun and professionalism.

3.5 When is a Two-Part Title a Good Idea

Two-part titles can pose a question in the first part to grab attention, with the second part providing a more academic description of the content. Two-part questions can also use the second part to explain the first part. Two-part questions must be specific, and the two parts must be connected.

✖ Poorly written two-part title : first and second parts don’t connect Advanced Algorithms in Machine Learning: Can They Really Improve Anything? ✔ Improved title Advanced Algorithms in Predictive Analytics: Are They Transforming Healthcare Outcomes?

The poorly written title does not strongly connect the first and second parts. “Can They Really Improve Anything?” isn’t specific enough to connect to the first part, which also lacks specificity.

Crafting an engaging and informative research article title is crucial for capturing attention and ensuring your work is read. You can create titles that stand out by being specific, highlighting unique findings, keeping titles concise, and ensuring grammatical correctness. Remember, a well-placed question or a bit of humor can enhance your title, but it must remain relevant and professional. Whether for journals or conferences, a well-crafted title can make a difference in the searchability and impact of your research. Happy titling!

If you have any questions, please drop a comment below, and we will answer as soon as possible. We also recommend you to refer to our other blogs on  academic writing tools ,   academic writing resources ,  academic writing phrases ,  research paper examples  and  research paper writing tips  which are relevant to the topic discussed in this blog. 

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how to find a topic for research paper

Scientific breakthroughs: 2024 emerging trends to watch

how to find a topic for research paper

December 28, 2023


Across disciplines and industries, scientific discoveries happen every day, so how can you stay ahead of emerging trends in a thriving landscape? At CAS, we have a unique view of recent scientific breakthroughs, the historical discoveries they were built upon, and the expertise to navigate the opportunities ahead. In 2023, we identified the top scientific breakthroughs , and 2024 has even more to offer. New trends to watch include the accelerated expansion of green chemistry, the clinical validation of CRISPR, the rise of biomaterials, and the renewed progress in treating the undruggable, from cancer to neurodegenerative diseases. To hear what the experts from Lawrence Liverpool National Lab and Oak Ridge National Lab are saying on this topic, join us for a free webinar on January 25 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. EDT for a panel discussion on the trends to watch in 2024.

The ascension of AI in R&D


While the future of AI has always been forward-looking, the AI revolution in chemistry and drug discovery has yet to be fully realized. While there have been some high-profile set-backs , several breakthroughs should be watched closely as the field continues to evolve. Generative AI is making an impact in drug discovery , machine learning is being used more in environmental research , and large language models like ChatGPT are being tested in healthcare applications and clinical settings.

Many scientists are keeping an eye on AlphaFold, DeepMind’s protein structure prediction software that revolutionized how proteins are understood. DeepMind and Isomorphic Labs have recently announced how their latest model shows improved accuracy, can generate predictions for almost all molecules in the Protein Data Bank, and expand coverage to ligands, nucleic acids, and posttranslational modifications . Therapeutic antibody discovery driven by AI is also gaining popularity , and platforms such as the RubrYc Therapeutics antibody discovery engine will help advance research in this area.

Though many look at AI development with excitement, concerns over accurate and accessible training data , fairness and bias , lack of regulatory oversight , impact on academia, scholarly research and publishing , hallucinations in large language models , and even concerns over infodemic threats to public health are being discussed. However, continuous improvement is inevitable with AI, so expect to see many new developments and innovations throughout 2024.

‘Greener’ green chemistry


Green chemistry is a rapidly evolving field that is constantly seeking innovative ways to minimize the environmental impact of chemical processes. Here are several emerging trends that are seeing significant breakthroughs:

  • Improving green chemistry predictions/outcomes : One of the biggest challenges in green chemistry is predicting the environmental impact of new chemicals and processes. Researchers are developing new computational tools and models that can help predict these impacts with greater accuracy. This will allow chemists to design safer and more environmentally friendly chemicals.
  • Reducing plastics: More than 350 million tons of plastic waste is generated every year. Across the landscape of manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers, reducing the use of single-use plastics and microplastics is critical. New value-driven approaches by innovators like MiTerro that reuse industrial by-products and biomass waste for eco-friendly and cheaper plastic replacements will soon be industry expectations. Lowering costs and plastic footprints will be important throughout the entire supply chain.    
  • Alternative battery chemistry: In the battery and energy storage space, finding alternatives to scarce " endangered elements" like lithium and cobalt will be critical. While essential components of many batteries, they are becoming scarce and expensive. New investments in lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries that do not use nickel and cobalt have expanded , with 45% of the EV market share being projected for LFP in 2029. Continued research is projected for more development in alternative materials like sodium, iron, and magnesium, which are more abundant, less expensive, and more sustainable.
  • More sustainable catalysts : Catalysts speed up a chemical reaction or decrease the energy required without getting consumed. Noble metals are excellent catalysts; however, they are expensive and their mining causes environmental damage. Even non-noble metal catalysts can also be toxic due to contamination and challenges with their disposal. Sustainable catalysts are made of earth-abundant elements that are also non-toxic in nature. In recent years, there has been a growing focus on developing sustainable catalysts that are more environmentally friendly and less reliant on precious metals. New developments with catalysts, their roles, and environmental impact will drive meaningful progress in reducing carbon footprints.  
  • Recycling lithium-ion batteries: Lithium-ion recycling has seen increased investments with more than 800 patents already published in 2023. The use of solid electrolytes or liquid nonflammable electrolytes may improve the safety and durability of LIBs and reduce their material use. Finally, a method to manufacture electrodes without solvent s could reduce the use of deprecated solvents such as N-methylpyrrolidinone, which require recycling and careful handling to prevent emissions.

Rise of biomaterials


New materials for biomedical applications could revolutionize many healthcare segments in 2024. One example is bioelectronic materials, which form interfaces between electronic devices and the human body, such as the brain-computer interface system being developed by Neuralink. This system, which uses a network of biocompatible electrodes implanted directly in the brain, was given FDA approval to begin human trials in 2023.

  • Bioelectronic materials: are often hybrids or composites, incorporating nanoscale materials, highly engineered conductive polymers, and bioresorbable substances. Recently developed devices can be implanted, used temporarily, and then safely reabsorbed by the body without the need for removal. This has been demonstrated by a fully bioresorbable, combined sensor-wireless power receiver made from zinc and the biodegradable polymer, poly(lactic acid).
  • Natural biomaterials: that are biocompatible and naturally derived (such as chitosan, cellulose nanomaterials, and silk) are used to make advanced multifunctional biomaterials in 2023. For example, they designed an injectable hydrogel brain implant for treating Parkinson’s disease, which is based on reversible crosslinks formed between chitosan, tannic acid, and gold nanoparticles.
  • Bioinks : are used for 3D printing of organs and transplant development which could revolutionize patient care. Currently, these models are used for studying organ architecture like 3D-printed heart models for cardiac disorders and 3D-printed lung models to test the efficacy of drugs. Specialized bioinks enhance the quality, efficacy, and versatility of 3D-printed organs, structures, and outcomes. Finally, new approaches like volumetric additive manufacturing (VAM) of pristine silk- based bioinks are unlocking new frontiers of innovation for 3D printing.

To the moon and beyond


The global Artemis program is a NASA-led international space exploration program that aims to land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon by 2025 as part of the long-term goal of establishing a sustainable human presence on the Moon. Additionally, the NASA mission called Europa Clipper, scheduled for a 2024 launch, will orbit around Jupiter and fly by Europa , one of Jupiter’s moons, to study the presence of water and its habitability. China’s mission, Chang’e 6 , plans to bring samples from the moon back to Earth for further studies. The Martian Moons Exploration (MMX) mission by Japan’s JAXA plans to bring back samples from Phobos, one of the Mars moons. Boeing is also expected to do a test flight of its reusable space capsule Starliner , which can take people to low-earth orbit.

The R&D impact of Artemis extends to more fields than just aerospace engineering, though:

  • Robotics: Robots will play a critical role in the Artemis program, performing many tasks, such as collecting samples, building infrastructure, and conducting scientific research. This will drive the development of new robotic technologies, including autonomous systems and dexterous manipulators.
  • Space medicine: The Artemis program will require the development of new technologies to protect astronauts from the hazards of space travel, such as radiation exposure and microgravity. This will include scientific discoveries in medical diagnostics, therapeutics, and countermeasures.
  • Earth science: The Artemis program will provide a unique opportunity to study the Moon and its environment. This will lead to new insights into the Earth's history, geology, and climate.
  • Materials science: The extreme space environment will require new materials that are lightweight, durable, and radiation resistant. This will have applications in many industries, including aerospace, construction, and energy.
  • Information technology: The Artemis program will generate a massive amount of data, which will need to be processed, analyzed, and shared in real time. This will drive the development of new IT technologies, such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

The CRISPR pay-off


After years of research, setbacks, and minimal progress, the first formal evidence of CRISPR as a therapeutic platform technology in the clinic was realized. Intellia Therapeutics received FDA clearance to initiate a pivotal phase 3 trial of a new drug for the treatment of hATTR, and using the same Cas9 mRNA, got a new medicine treating a different disease, angioedema. This was achieved by only changing 20 nucleotides of the guide RNA, suggesting that CRISPR can be used as a therapeutic platform technology in the clinic.

The second great moment for CRISPR drug development technology came when Vertex and CRISPR Therapeutics announced the authorization of the first CRISPR/Cas9 gene-edited therapy, CASGEVY™, by the United Kingdom MHRA, for the treatment of sickle cell disease and transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia. This was the first approval of a CRISPR-based therapy for human use and is a landmark moment in realizing the potential of CRISPR to improve human health.

In addition to its remarkable genome editing capability, the CRISPR-Cas system has proven to be effective in many applications, including early cancer diagnosis . CRISPR-based genome and transcriptome engineering and CRISPR-Cas12a and CRISPR-Cas13a appear to have the necessary characteristics to be robust detection tools for cancer therapy and diagnostics. CRISPR-Cas-based biosensing system gives rise to a new era for precise diagnoses of early-stage cancers.

MIT engineers have also designed a new nanoparticle DNA-encoded nanosensor for urinary biomarkers that could enable early cancer diagnoses with a simple urine test. The sensors, which can detect cancerous proteins, could also distinguish the type of tumor or how it responds to treatment.

Ending cancer


The immuno-oncology field has seen tremendous growth in the last few years. Approved products such as cytokines, vaccines, tumor-directed monoclonal antibodies, and immune checkpoint blockers continue to grow in market size. Novel therapies like TAC01-HER2 are currently undergoing clinical trials. This unique therapy uses autologous T cells, which have been genetically engineered to incorporate T cell Antigen Coupler (TAC) receptors that recognize human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) presence on tumor cells to remove them. This could be a promising therapy for metastatic, HER2-positive solid tumors.

Another promising strategy aims to use the CAR-T cells against solid tumors in conjunction with a vaccine that boosts immune response. Immune boosting helps the body create more host T cells that can target other tumor antigens that CAR-T cells cannot kill.

Another notable trend is the development of improved and effective personalized therapies. For instance, a recently developed personalized RNA neoantigen vaccine, based on uridine mRNA–lipoplex nanoparticles, was found effective against pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Major challenges in immuno-oncology are therapy resistance, lack of predictable biomarkers, and tumor heterogenicity. As a result, devising novel treatment strategies could be a future research focus.

Decarbonizing energy


Multiple well-funded efforts are underway to decarbonize energy production by replacing fossil fuel-based energy sources with sources that generate no (or much less) CO2 in 2024.

One of these efforts is to incorporate large-scale energy storage devices into the existing power grid. These are an important part of enabling the use of renewable sources since they provide additional supply and demand for electricity to complement renewable sources. Several types of grid-scale storage that vary in the amount of energy they can store and how quickly they can discharge it into the grid are under development. Some are physical (flywheels, pumped hydro, and compressed air) and some are chemical (traditional batteries, flow batteries , supercapacitors, and hydrogen ), but all are the subject of active chemistry and materials development research. The U.S. government is encouraging development in this area through tax credits as part of the Inflation Reduction Act and a $7 billion program to establish regional hydrogen hubs.

Meanwhile, nuclear power will continue to be an active R&D area in 2024. In nuclear fission, multiple companies are developing small modular reactors (SMRs) for use in electricity production and chemical manufacturing, including hydrogen. The development of nuclear fusion reactors involves fundamental research in physics and materials science. One major challenge is finding a material that can be used for the wall of the reactor facing the fusion plasma; so far, candidate materials have included high-entropy alloys and even molten metals .

Neurodegenerative diseases


Neurodegenerative diseases are a major public health concern, being a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. While there is currently no cure for any neurodegenerative disease, new scientific discoveries and understandings of these pathways may be the key to helping patient outcomes.

  • Alzheimer’s disease: Two immunotherapeutics have received FDA approval to reduce both cognitive and functional decline in individuals living with early Alzheimer's disease. Aducannumab (Aduhelm®) received accelerated approval in 2021 and is the first new treatment approved for Alzheimer’s since 2003 and the first therapy targeting the disease pathophysiology, reducing beta-amyloid plaques in the brains of early Alzheimer’s disease patients. Lecanemab (Leqembi®) received traditional approval in 2023 and is the first drug targeting Alzheimer’s disease pathophysiology to show clinical benefits, reducing the rate of disease progression and slowing cognitive and functional decline in adults with early stages of the disease.
  • Parkinson’s disease: New treatment modalities outside of pharmaceuticals and deep brain stimulation are being researched and approved by the FDA for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease symptoms. The non-invasive medical device, Exablate Neuro (approved by the FDA in 2021), uses focused ultrasound on one side of the brain to provide relief from severe symptoms such as tremors, limb rigidity, and dyskinesia. 2023 brought major news for Parkinson’s disease research with the validation of the biomarker alpha-synuclein. Researchers have developed a tool called the α-synuclein seeding amplification assay which detects the biomarker in the spinal fluid of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and individuals who have not shown clinical symptoms.
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS): Two pharmaceuticals have seen FDA approval in the past two years to slow disease progression in individuals with ALS. Relyvrio ® was approved in 2022 and acts by preventing or slowing more neuron cell death in patients with ALS. Tofersen (Qalsody®), an antisense oligonucleotide, was approved in 2023 under the accelerated approval pathway. Tofersen targets RNA produced from mutated superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) genes to eliminate toxic SOD1 protein production. Recently published genetic research on how mutations contribute to ALS is ongoing with researchers recently discovering how NEK1 gene mutations lead to ALS. This discovery suggests a possible rational therapeutic approach to stabilizing microtubules in ALS patients.

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Fall 2024 Semester

Undergraduate courses.

Composition courses that offer many sections (ENGL 101, 201, 277 and 379) are not listed on this schedule unless they are tailored to specific thematic content or particularly appropriate for specific programs and majors.

  • 100-200 level

ENGL 151.S01: Introduction to English Studies

Tuesday and Thursday, 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Sharon Smith

ENGL 151 serves as an introduction to both the English major and the discipline of English studies. In this class, you will develop the thinking, reading, writing and research practices that define both the major and the discipline. Much of the semester will be devoted to honing your literary analysis skills, and we will study and discuss texts from several different genres—poetry, short fiction, the novel, drama and film—as well as some literary criticism. As we do so, we will explore the language of the discipline, and you will learn a variety of key literary terms and concepts. In addition, you will develop your skills as both a writer and researcher within the discipline of English.

ENGL 201.ST1 Composition II: The Mind/Body Connection

In this section of English 201, students will use research and writing to learn more about problems that are important to them and articulate ways to address those problems. The course will focus specifically on issues related to the mind, the body and the relationship between them. The topics we will discuss during the course will include the correlation between social media and body image; the efficacy of sex education programs; the degree to which beliefs about race and gender influence school dress codes; and the unique mental and physical challenges faced by college students today. In this course, you will be learning about different approaches to argumentation, analyzing the arguments of others and constructing your own arguments. At the same time, you will be honing your skills as a researcher and developing your abilities as a persuasive and effective writer.

ENGL 201.S10 Composition II: Environmental Writing   

Monday/Wednesday/Friday 1-1:50 p.m.

Gwen Horsley

English 201 will help students develop the ability to think critically and analytically and to write effectively for other university courses and careers. This course will provide opportunities to develop analytical skills that will help students become critical readers and effective writers. Specifically, in this class, students will:

  • Focus on the relationships between world environments, land, animals and humankind.
  • Read various essays by environmental, conservational and regional authors.
  • Produce student writings. 

Students will improve their writing skills by reading essays and applying techniques they witness in others’ work and those learned in class. This class is also a course in logical and creative thought. Students will write about humankind’s place in the world and our influence on the land and animals, places that hold special meaning to them or have influenced their lives and stories of their own families and their places and passions in the world. Students will practice writing in an informed and persuasive manner, in language that engages and enlivens readers by using vivid verbs and avoiding unnecessary passives, nominalizations and expletive constructions.

Students will prepare writing assignments based on readings and discussions of essays included in "Literature and the Environment " and other sources. They may use "The St. Martin’s Handbook," as well as other sources, to review grammar, punctuation, mechanics and usage as needed.

ENGL 201.13 Composition II: Writing the Environment

Tuesday and Thursday 9:30-10:45 a.m.

Paul Baggett

For generations, environmentalists have relied on the power of prose to change the minds and habits of their contemporaries. In the wake of fires, floods, storms and droughts, environmental writing has gained a new sense of urgency, with authors joining activists in their efforts to educate the public about the grim realities of climate change. But do they make a difference? Have reports of present and future disasters so saturated our airwaves that we no longer hear them? How do writers make us care about the planet amidst all the noise? In this course, students will examine the various rhetorical strategies employed by some of today’s leading environmental writers and filmmakers. And while analyzing their different arguments, students also will strengthen their own strategies of argumentation as they research and develop essays that explore a range of environmental concerns.

ENGL 201 Composition II: Food Writing

S17 Tuesday and Thursday 12:30-1:45 p.m.

S18 Tuesday and Thursday 2-3:15 p.m.

Jodi Andrews

In this composition class, students will critically analyze essays about food, food systems and environments, food cultures, the intersections of personal choice, market forces and policy and the values underneath these forces. Students will learn to better read like writers, noting authors’ purpose, audience organizational moves, sentence-level punctuation and diction. We will read a variety of essays including research-intensive arguments and personal narratives which intersect with one of our most primal needs as humans: food consumption. Students will rhetorically analyze texts, conduct advanced research, reflect on the writing process and write essays utilizing intentional rhetorical strategies. Through doing this work, students will practice the writing moves valued in every discipline: argument, evidence, concision, engaging prose and the essential research skills for the 21st century.

ENGL 221.S01 British Literature I

Michael S. Nagy

English 221 is a survey of early British literature from its inception in the Old English period with works such as "Beowulf" and the “Battle of Maldon,” through the Middle Ages and the incomparable writings of Geoffrey Chaucer and the Gawain - poet, to the Renaissance and beyond. Students will explore the historical and cultural contexts in which all assigned reading materials were written, and they will bring that information to bear on class discussion. Likely themes that this class will cover include heroism, humor, honor, religion, heresy and moral relativity. Students will write one research paper in this class and sit for two formal exams: a midterm covering everything up to that point in the semester, and a comprehensive final. Probable texts include the following:

  • The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Middle Ages. Ed. Alfred David, M. H. Abrams, and Stephen Greenblatt. 9th ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012.
  • The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Sixteenth Century and Early Seventeenth Century. Ed. George M. Logan, Stephen Greenblatt, Barbara K Lewalski, and M. H. Abrams. 9th ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012.
  • The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century. Ed. George M. Logan, Stephen Greenblatt, Barbara K Lewalski, and M. H. Abrams. 9th ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012.
  • Gibaldi, Joseph. The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th ed. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 2003.
  • Any Standard College Dictionary.

ENGL 240.S01 Juvenile Literature Elementary-5th Grade

Monday, Wednesday and Friday noon-12:50 p.m.

April Myrick

A survey of the history of literature written for children and adolescents, and a consideration of the various types of juvenile literature. Text selection will focus on the themes of imagination and breaking boundaries.

ENGL 240.ST1 Juvenile Literature Elementary-5th Grade

Randi Anderson

In English 240 students will develop the skills to interpret and evaluate various genres of literature for juvenile readers. This particular section will focus on various works of literature at approximately the K-5 grade level. We will read a large range of works that fall into this category, as well as information on the history, development and genre of juvenile literature.

Readings for this course include classical works such as "Hatchet," "Little Women", "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" and "Brown Girl Dreaming," as well as newer works like "Storm in the Barn," "Anne Frank’s Diary: A Graphic Adaptation," "Lumberjanes," and a variety of picture books. These readings will be paired with chapters from "Reading Children’s Literature: A Critical Introduction " to help develop understanding of various genres, themes and concepts that are both related to juvenile literature and also present in our readings.

In addition to exposing students to various genres of writing (poetry, historical fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, picture books, graphic novels, etc.) this course will also allow students to engage in a discussion of larger themes present in these works such as censorship, race and gender. Students’ understanding of these works and concepts will be developed through readings, research, discussion posts, exams and writing assignments designed to get students to practice analyzing poetry, picture books, informational books and transitional/easy readers.

ENGL 241.S01: American Literature I

Tuesday and Thursday 12:30-1:45 p.m.

This course provides a broad, historical survey of American literature from the early colonial period to the Civil War. Ranging across historical periods and literary genres—including early accounts of contact and discovery, narratives of captivity and slavery, poetry of revolution, essays on gender equality and stories of industrial exploitation—this class examines how subjects such as colonialism, nationhood, religion, slavery, westward expansion, race, gender and democracy continue to influence how Americans see themselves and their society.

Required Texts

  • The Norton Anthology of American Literature: Package 1, Volumes A and B Beginnings to 1865, Ninth Edition. (ISBN 978-0-393-26454-8)

ENGL 283.S01 Introduction to Creative Writing

Steven Wingate

Students will explore the various forms of creative writing (fiction, nonfiction and poetry) not one at a time in a survey format—as if there were decisive walls of separation between then—but as intensely related genres that share much of their creative DNA. Through close reading and work on personal texts, students will address the decisions that writers in any genre must face on voice, rhetorical position, relationship to audience, etc. Students will produce and revise portfolios of original creative work developed from prompts and research. This course fulfills the same SGR #2 requirements ENGL 201; note that the course will involve a research project. Successful completion of ENGL 101 (including by test or dual credit) is a prerequisite.

ENGL 283.S02 Introduction to Creative Writing

Jodilyn Andrews

This course introduces students to the craft of writing, with readings and practice in at least two genres (including fiction, poetry and drama).

ENGL 283.ST1 Introduction to Creative Writing

Amber Jensen, M.A., M.F.A.

This course explores creative writing as a way of encountering the world, research as a component of the creative writing process, elements of craft and their rhetorical effect and drafting, workshop and revision as integral parts of writing polished literary creative work. Student writers will engage in the research practices that inform the writing of literature and in the composing strategies and writing process writers use to create literary texts. Through their reading and writing of fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction, students will learn about craft elements, find examples of those craft elements in published works and apply these elements in their own creative work, developed through weekly writing activities, small group and large group workshop and conferences with the instructor. Work will be submitted, along with a learning reflection and revision plan in each genre and will then be revised and submitted as a final portfolio at the end of the semester to demonstrate continued growth in the creation of polished literary writing.

  • 300-400 level

ENGL 424.S01 Language Arts Methods grades 7-12  

Tuesday 6-8:50 p.m.

Danielle Harms

Techniques, materials and resources for teaching English language and literature to middle and secondary school students. Required of students in the English education option.

AIS/ENGL 447.S01: American Indian Literature of the Present 

Thursdays 3-6 p.m.

This course introduces students to contemporary works by authors from various Indigenous nations. Students examine these works to enhance their historical understanding of Indigenous peoples, discover the variety of literary forms used by those who identify as Indigenous writers, and consider the cultural and political significance of these varieties of expression. Topics and questions to be explored include:

  • Genre: What makes Indigenous literature indigenous?
  • Political and Cultural Sovereignty: Why have an emphasis on tribal specificity and calls for “literary separatism” emerged in recent decades, and what are some of the critical conversations surrounding such particularized perspectives?
  • Gender and Sexuality: What are the intersecting concerns of Indigenous Studies and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and how might these research fields inform one another?
  • Trans-Indigeneity: What might we learn by comparing works across different Indigenous traditions, and what challenges do such comparisons present?
  • Aesthetics: How do Indigenous writers understand the dynamics between tradition and creativity?
  • Visual Forms: What questions or concerns do visual representations (television and film) by or about Indigenous peoples present?

Possible Texts

  • Akiwenzie-Damm, Kateri and Josie Douglas (eds), Skins: Contemporary Indigenous Writing. IAD Press, 2000. (978-1864650327)
  • Erdrich, Louise, The Sentence. Harper, 2021 (978-0062671127)
  • Harjo, Joy, Poet Warrior: A Memoir. Norton, 2021 (978-0393248524)
  • Harjo, Sterlin and Taika Waititi, Reservation Dogs (selected episodes)
  • Talty, Morgan. Night of the Living Rez, 2022, Tin House (978-1953534187)
  • Wall Kimmerer, Robin. Braiding Sweet Grass, Milkweed Editions (978-1571313560)
  • Wilson, Diane. The Seed Keeper: A Novel. Milkweed Editions (978-1571311375)
  • Critical essays by Alexie, Allen, Cohen, Cox, King, Kroeber, Ortiz, Piatote, Ross and Sexton, Smith, Taylor, Teuton, Treuer, Vizenor, and Womack.

ENGL 472.S01: Film Criticism

Tuesdays 2-4:50 p.m.

Jason McEntee

Do you have an appreciation for, and enjoy watching, movies? Do you want to study movies in a genre-oriented format (such as those we typically call the Western, the screwball comedy, the science fiction or the crime/gangster, to name a few)? Do you want to explore the different critical approaches for talking and writing about movies (such as auteur, feminist, genre or reception)?

In this class, you will examine movies through viewing and defining different genres while, at the same time, studying and utilizing different styles of film criticism. You will share your discoveries in both class discussions and short writings. The final project will be a formal written piece of film criticism based on our work throughout the semester. The course satisfies requirements and electives for all English majors and minors, including both the Film Studies and Professional Writing minors. (Note: Viewing of movies outside of class required and may require rental and/or streaming service fees.)

ENGL 476.ST1: Fiction

In this workshop-based creative writing course, students will develop original fiction based on strong attention to the fundamentals of literary storytelling: full-bodied characters, robust story lines, palpable environments and unique voices. We will pay particular attention to process awareness, to the integrity of the sentence, and to authors' commitments to their characters and the places in which their stories unfold. Some workshop experience is helpful, as student peer critique will be an important element of the class.

ENGL 479.01 Capstone: The Gothic

Wednesday 3-5:50 p.m.

With the publication of Horace Walpole’s "The Castle of Otranto " in 1764, the Gothic officially came into being. Dark tales of physical violence and psychological terror, the Gothic incorporates elements such as distressed heroes and heroines pursued by tyrannical villains; gloomy estates with dark corridors, secret passageways and mysterious chambers; haunting dreams, troubling prophecies and disturbing premonitions; abduction, imprisonment and murder; and a varied assortment of corpses, apparitions and “monsters.” In this course, we will trace the development of Gothic literature—and some film—from the eighteenth-century to the present time. As we do so, we will consider how the Gothic engages philosophical beliefs about the beautiful and sublime; shapes psychological understandings of human beings’ encounters with horror, terror, the fantastic and the uncanny; and intervenes in the social and historical contexts in which it was written. We’ll consider, for example, how the Gothic undermines ideals related to domesticity and marriage through representations of domestic abuse, toxicity and gaslighting. In addition, we’ll discuss Gothic texts that center the injustices of slavery and racism. As many Gothic texts suggest, the true horrors of human existence often have less to do with inexplicable supernatural phenomena than with the realities of the world in which we live. 

ENGL 485.S01: Undergraduate Writing Center Learning Assistants 

Flexible Scheduling

Nathan Serfling

Since their beginnings in the 1920s and 30s, writing centers have come to serve numerous functions: as hubs for writing across the curriculum initiatives, sites to develop and deliver workshops and resource centers for faculty as well as students, among other functions. But the primary function of writing centers has necessarily and rightfully remained the tutoring of student writers. This course will immerse you in that function in two parts. During the first four weeks, you will explore writing center praxis—that is, the dialogic interplay of theory and practice related to writing center work. This part of the course will orient you to writing center history, key theoretical tenets and practical aspects of writing center tutoring. Once we have developed and practiced this foundation, you will begin work in the writing center as a tutor, responsible for assisting a wide variety of student clients with numerous writing tasks. Through this work, you will learn to actively engage with student clients in the revision of a text, respond to different student needs and abilities, work with a variety of writing tasks and rhetorical situations, and develop a richer sense of writing as a complex and negotiated social process.

Graduate Courses

Engl 572.s01: film criticism, engl 576.st1 fiction.

In this workshop-based creative writing course, students will develop original fiction based on strong attention to the fundamentals of literary storytelling: full-bodied characters, robust story lines, palpable environments and unique voices. We will pay particular attention to process awareness, to the integrity of the sentence and to authors' commitments to their characters and the places in which their stories unfold. Some workshop experience is helpful, as student peer critique will be an important element of the class.

ENGL 605.S01 Seminar in Teaching Composition

Thursdays 1-3:50 p.m.

This course will provide you with a foundation in the pedagogies and theories (and their attendant histories) of writing instruction, a foundation that will prepare you to teach your own writing courses at SDSU and elsewhere. As you will discover through our course, though, writing instruction does not come with any prescribed set of “best” practices. Rather, writing pedagogies stem from and continue to evolve because of various and largely unsettled conversations about what constitutes effective writing and effective writing instruction. Part of becoming a practicing writing instructor, then, is studying these conversations to develop a sense of what “good writing” and “effective writing instruction” might mean for you in our particular program and how you might adapt that understanding to different programs and contexts.

As we read about, discuss and research writing instruction, we will address a variety of practical and theoretical topics. The practical focus will allow us to attend to topics relevant to your immediate classroom practices: designing a curriculum and various types of assignments, delivering the course content and assessing student work, among others. Our theoretical topics will begin to reveal the underpinnings of these various practical matters, including their historical, rhetorical, social and political contexts. In other words, we will investigate the praxis—the dialogic interaction of practice and theory—of writing pedagogy. As a result, this course aims to prepare you not only as a writing teacher but also as a nascent writing studies/writing pedagogy scholar.

At the end of this course, you should be able to engage effectively in the classroom practices described above and participate in academic conversations about writing pedagogy, both orally and in writing. Assessment of these outcomes will be based primarily on the various writing assignments you submit and to a smaller degree on your participation in class discussions and activities.

ENGL 726.S01: The New Woman, 1880–1900s 

Thursdays 3–5:50 p.m.

Katherine Malone

This course explores the rise of the New Woman at the end of the nineteenth century. The label New Woman referred to independent women who rebelled against social conventions. Often depicted riding bicycles, smoking cigarettes and wearing masculine clothing, these early feminists challenged gender roles and sought broader opportunities for women’s employment and self-determination. We will read provocative fiction and nonfiction by New Women writers and their critics, including authors such as Sarah Grand, Mona Caird, George Egerton, Amy Levy, Ella Hepworth Dixon, Grant Allen and George Gissing. We will analyze these exciting texts through a range of critical lenses and within the historical context of imperialism, scientific and technological innovation, the growth of the periodical press and discourse about race, class and gender. In addition to writing an argumentative seminar paper, students will complete short research assignments and lead discussion.

ENGL 792.ST1 Women in War: Female Authors and Characters in Contemporary War Lit

In this course, we will explore the voices of female authors and characters in contemporary literature of war. Drawing from various literary theories, our readings and discussion will explore the contributions of these voices to the evolving literature of war through archetypal and feminist criticism. We will read a variety of short works (both theoretical and creative) and complete works such as (selections subject to change): "Eyes Right" by Tracy Crow, "Plenty of Time When We Get Home" by Kayla Williams, "You Know When the Men are Gone" by Siobhan Fallon, "Still, Come Home" by Katie Schultz and "The Fine Art of Camouflage" by Lauren Johnson.


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  8. Research Guides: Finding a Paper Topic: Introduction

    Introduction. This guide is aimed at law students selecting a research paper topic. You should aim to find a specific, original topic that you find intriguing. The process for choosing a topic varies but might involve the following steps. Brainstorm about areas of interest.

  9. How to Choose a Dissertation Topic

    Step 3: Look for books and articles. Step 4: Find a niche. Step 5: Consider the type of research. Step 6: Determine the relevance. Step 7: Make sure it's plausible. Step 8: Get your topic approved. Other interesting articles. Frequently asked questions about dissertation topics.

  10. 113 Great Research Paper Topics

    113 Great Research Paper Topics. One of the hardest parts of writing a research paper can be just finding a good topic to write about. Fortunately we've done the hard work for you and have compiled a list of 113 interesting research paper topics. They've been organized into ten categories and cover a wide range of subjects so you can easily ...

  11. How to Select a Research Topic: A Step-by-Step Guide

    Below are four steps to follow to find the most suitable topic for your research paper assignment: Step 1: Consider a Topic that Interests You . If your professor has asked you to choose a topic for your research paper, it means you can choose just about any subject to focus on in your area of study. A significant first step to take is to ...

  12. Choosing a Research Topic

    A good way to get started is by brainstorming ideas. The Purdue OWL (n.d.) guide to choosing a topic describes the brainstorming process: start thinking about the research project, set a timer, and write down all ideas that occur to you. Then, examine the list to look for patterns or trends among the topic ideas.

  13. How to Write a Research Paper: Choosing Your Topic

    Choose a topic you are interested in, and can find information about. Your opinion of the topic might change as you conduct your research and find out more about the subject. Choose a topic that is not too broad or too narrow. The first will be hard to keep focused and the second might be hard to find information about.

  14. How to Choose and Develop a Research Topic: Ideas and Examples

    Selecting the right research paper topic is a crucial step in the research process. A well-chosen topic can lay the foundation for a successful research project, while a poorly chosen one can lead to frustration and wasted effort. Choosing an interesting research topic can be challenging, especially for those new to the research field.

  15. How to find Research Papers: A Cheat Sheet for Graduate Students

    From there, you can find the references in the papers they recommended. Use feed aggregators. Feed aggregators, such as Feedly, Inoreader, and NewsBlur, help me organize my feeds. In the morning, I dedicate five minutes to scanning my feed. For most papers, I just glance at the title and scroll past.

  16. Finding a Research Topic

    Resources for Finding a Research Topic Workshop. This workshop will introduce you to library resources which can be used to locate potential topics for a research paper or dissertation. This workshop explores websites, reference books, and scholarly articles, as well as review criteria to consider when selecting a topic.

  17. Your Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing a Thesis Research Topic.

    Choose a topic that you're interested in. First things first: double-check with your teachers or supervisor if there are any constraints on your research topic. Once your parameters are clear, it's time to identify what lights you up — after all, you're going to be spending a lot of time thinking about it.

  18. How to generate topic ideas for research papers (5 tips)

    In this post, we discuss five tips for generating research paper topics. 1. Make a list of your interests. If you have the opportunity to choose your own topic, it's a great idea to start with your personal interests. Make a list of your interests on one half of a sheet of paper. Then, on the other half, list the wider social, historical, or ...

  19. #103: How to find a paper topic

    Journals don't accept just any topic. We think it's worth spending a bit of time choosing a good topic for your next paper. Here, we suggest 10 ideas on how to identify a topic and provide a free worksheet "Identify your paper topic" to help you further. 1. Get inspired by other papers.


    Microsoft Word - topic.doc. DEVELOPING A RESEARCH TOPIC. Every good research project has a well-defined topic. Selecting and developing a topic is an ongoing process by which you define and refine your ideas. You can then focus your research strategies to find relevant and appropriate information. Before you begin the research process, be sure ...

  21. Narrowing a Topic and Developing a Research Question

    Begin the research and writing process using the following tips: Research your question: Now that you have a research question, you can begin exploring possible answers to it. Your research question allows you to begin researching in a clear direction. Create a thesis statement: Once you have a clear understanding of your research question and ...

  22. How can I choose a good topic for my research paper?

    Here are some things to consider: Make sure your topic meets the assignment requirements. Ask your professor for feedback if you are unsure. Choose a topic that is interesting to you. It may seem obvious, but this will make the research process more fun and engaging for you. Consider the scope of your topic. If your topic is too broad it may be ...

  23. How to Write a Research Question

    1. Choose a topic. When writing any research paper, you need to choose a subject that you're interested in, which makes the research easier to complete. It should also be a topic that is specific enough to give you the chance to contribute new knowledge but not so specific that you can't find any previous discussion of it. 2. Browse the ...

  24. How to Find Research Papers Effectively: 25 Best Academic Websites

    1. Google Scholar - The Ultimate Academic Search Engine. Google Scholar is a free-to-use search engine that indexes scholarly articles and other academic materials across disciplines. Users can access a wide range of research papers, articles, theses, and books through Google Scholar.

  25. How to Write a Literature Review

    A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question. It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation, or research paper, in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.

  26. How to Write Catchy Research Paper Titles with Examples

    Let's look at some basic rules to follow while crafting a fitting title for your research paper. 2.1 Be Specific and Avoid Being Generic. A generic title is broad, vague, and lacks specificity about the research findings. It does not highlight the research's unique factors or the study's contribution. Generic title

  27. Webinar: Emerging trends to watch in 2024

    Dr. Arnold Lumsdaine finished off the webinar with the topic of fusion energy. He started with a call to action that the future of civilization depends on energy and the urgent need for carbon-free energy sources to meet the world's growing energy needs.

  28. Fall 2024 Semester

    Students will write one research paper in this class and sit for two formal exams: a midterm covering everything up to that point in the semester, and a comprehensive final. Probable texts include the following:The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Middle Ages. Ed. Alfred David, M. H. Abrams, and Stephen Greenblatt. 9th ed.