One of the most important stages of writing a college paper is selecting and narrowing the topic. The following guide will go through this step with you!
Sometimes, you’ll be given a list of possible questions and themes for your college paper, and other times you will have the freedom to choose your own topic. This freedom can be both great and terrifying. If you have difficulties choosing what to write about, start with a few ideas and choose the best one after several steps. You can also consult with your instructor about the best topic choices.
How to Choose Good Paper Topics
Think about the things related to the course that you are interested in. If nothing interests you, look through the textbook, instructor-recommended resources, and current periodicals for possible ideas.
Then you need to narrow your ideas from subjects to topics. A subject is a broad concept: the Cold War, abortion, global warming. These are not paper topics. You can narrow a subject by looking at its smaller parts or by choosing a specific time period, or place to cover. You may also need to do a little general research if you don’t know much about the subject.
Writing Your Topic as a Question
Once you have a specific topic for your paper, write your topic as a question that your paper will answer. Doing this is a great way to focus your paper and ensure that you meet the paper’s purpose.
For instance, an argumentative paper has a yes/no question, such as “Should animal organs be used for human transplants?” or “Was it right that the U.S. used an atomic bomb in World War II?” And then your paper would argue in accordance with the answer to the question.
An analytical paper most likely has a why/how question, such as “How could the EU reform its agricultural subsidies?” or “Why has childhood obesity been increasing in the United States?” Your paper will analyze different answers, justifying your point of view to the reader.
Characteristics of a Good Paper Topic
Your question does not have a simple answer. A good question has several alternative answers or no accepted answer. In other words, there is no “right” answer to your question. Your paper will justify your own best answers, and it will require research and critical thinking to do this.
Your question is worth answering. The readers should care about the answer to your question. It should have some importance.
The topic is the right size for the length of the paper. Make sure you will not have too little or too much to say for the number of pages allowed.
There is enough information available in the form of reliable sources. If you find too much information, you will need to narrow your topic further; if you find too little information, you should widen your topic.
If you need to find a topic, read through Best ‘Writing Titles’ Exercises to Help You. If you need expert assistance with your paper writing, visit terranetwork.org.