Students are assigned so many academic papers these days that it’s no wonder many experience fatigue when it comes to writing papers. However, with a fresh perspective, that can change, and one of the most important times to have a fresh perspective is when choosing research paper topics.
While students often approach research paper topics as little more than rote repetition of their sources, this is the wrong way to go about it if they want to provide their readers with an innovative point of view. Even the most overworked subject matter can offer a fresh perspective for the writer and reader, if the writer just knows where to look for it. Whether the topic is one the writer has written about before, or it’s a brand new one, it’s easy to be innovative with a little bit of thought put into it.
The best way to come up with a fresh topic for a research paper is to read about the topic with an open mind. Do a search online or in the library for some basic info about the topic. The student doesn’t need to find surprising subject matter on the topic, either—that’s not necessary to come up with their own great theme. In fact, it is often better to stick to very basic background information (encyclopedia articles, for example) at this stage.
While reading, the student should jot down their personal thoughts about what they’ve read, highlight any intriguing facts, and most importantly, make a list of questions they have about the topic that require further investigation. Once they feel they have a good background understanding of the topic, the student should read over the notes, highlights, and questions that they’ve written down. They should especially take note of the questions, and do a bit of research on those that interest them more than the others. They should continue to jot down more questions as they go and think about hypothetical answers.
By following the above strategy, an innovative topic will almost always reveal itself. Questioning and critical thinking are the backbone of a research paper, and by starting the process of topic selection by employing them, a student will come up with an innovative topic that motivates them to write an innovative research paper.
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