What Is the Secret of Selecting Impressive Research Paper Topics?


A strong research paper topic should be specific, focused, and debatable. You can craft such a topic from any general idea that you have – just follow the simple technique below.

  • Select your general area of interest.
  • For a research paper in architecture, it can be “modern style.” For a chemistry paper, you may choose “organic matter.”

  • Pick an individual research subject within your area.
  • If you are going to write about modern style in architecture, select a single representative of this school, e. g. Frank Lloyd Wright. If you want to write about organic matter, select a single kind of it, e. g. compost and soil.

  • Choose a single aspect of your research subject.
  • You can’t write a research paper on Frank Lloyd Wright – that’s a too broad topic. Take a narrower focus, such as “architecture principles of F. L. Wright” or “influence of F. L. Wright.”

  • Repeat the steps above two or three times.
  • This point is extremely important because in the process of your research, you may discover unexpected obstacles that will prevent you from exploring this topic (for example, not enough literature in your school or college library). Therefore, it is better to have three or four topic options. If one fails, you can pick the next one. You may select your other topics from the same general area of interest or from different ones.

  • Check source availability for each topic.
  • When you have a list of several broad research topics, look for sources you can use for the first topic on the list. Explore both your academic library and the Internet. See whether you have enough relevant sources: 2-3 items for 1-2 page research paper, 4-8 for 3-5 pages, and 12-20 for 10-15 pages. Keep a proper balance: include not only websites and periodicals (unless specifically required by your instructor) but books and scholarly articles as well. Next, do the same for each of the following topics. Cross out the topics for which you can’t find enough relevant sources.

  • Make your final choice.
  • Select the topic for which you have the best sources. Refine it by making one or two phrases more specific: not “architectural principles of F. L. Wright” but “functionality as a core architectural principles of F. L. Wright.”

  • Turn your topic into a debatable statement.
  • For example, “Functionality as a core architectural principle introduced by Frank Lloyd Wright remains underlying in American architecture today.”

  • Get your topic approved by your instructor – and you can write on it.