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Term Paper Topics

"Before you even consider the "topics" issue, take some time now to find out how to save yourself headaches and agony by thoroughly understand the term paper topic. Where shall I begin, how shall I write, how shall I start my research and what shall I do with all these term paper topics? "

"Once you have chosen a topic, become very familiar with it: read and reread the appropriate portions of the text, check the endnotes for any additional information, and do some research to see whether any critics have written on similar topics. While you should be using most of your own ideas, reading articles by other writers may help you to focus your topic or understand something you don't know. See the Bibliographic and Research Tips on this site for more information on how to find appropriate materials. When you are comfortable with your material, develop your thesis. Look over any notes you may have taken in your research or in class and see whether they support some underlying trend. Select two or three arguments or examples that can be used in defense of your thesis, and explore them thoroughly."

"Maybe you already have a topic in mind. Or perhaps you aren't sure what you want the topic of your speech or paper to be. Either way, this four-step guide will help you to choose a topic, find background information, narrow the focus of your topic, and write a topic statement that will help guide the development of your speech or paper."

Generate Ideas

"Think about the following questions. Better yet, take a pen and paper and write down some responses. You will, of course, need to keep the parameters of the assignment in mind. It is okay to think broadly at this point. You will narrow your topic by looking at some background information and asking yourself some questions about your topic. "

Find Background Information

"Look at your list of topics. You might have to discard topics as not appropriate for this assignment. Choose one or two that interest you the most as potential topics. Keep in mind your audience and the assignment. "

"The topics on your list are quite broad. A way to start to narrow your topic is to look at some general background information about the subject. "

  • One of the best places to look for background information is in encyclopedias. The Library has many encyclopedias, both general ones, like Encyclopaedia Britannica, and more specific ones such asthe Concise Encyclopaedia of Foods and Nutrition.

"As you read the encyclopedia entries, note interesting facts or ideas. (Write down some answers to these questions.) The example below shows how you can move from a simple idea (here, coffee) to an actual topic. Be sure to include the source(s) of your information, since you will need this information for your bibliography."

Narrow Your Topic

"By now you have a general topic (or two) and some background information. Your topic is probably still too broad and needs to be more manageable."

"Take a look at the questions that you answered about your topic and brainstorm what some narrower aspects of the topic might be. Write down your ideas. "

"Here's a list following the example of the topic coffee: "

  • History of coffee growing.
  • Popularity of coffeehouses.
  • Impact of coffee on the world economy.
  • How caffeine works in the human body.
  • Coffee - from growing to brewing.

"Review the list that you just made. Choose one or two narrower topics. Keep the following in mind: "

  • Who is your audience? Which of these narrower topics will be the most interesting to both you and your audience? Which topics will be understood by the audience? (Is the audience a professor reading a paper, or other students listening to a presentation?)
  • What are the specifics of the assignment? Which topics will fit? (Note that the above examples are all informative in nature, perhaps not good for a persuasive speech or paper. A related topic focused on chemistry might interest you, but not be appropriate for an economics course.)
  • How long do you have to cover the topic? Is it still too broad?
  • Which of these narrower topics interests you the most? After all, you need to do further research on this topic... it will be more difficult if it doesn't interest you.

"Now that you have settled on a more specific topic, write it down as topic statement."

Write a Topic Statement

"A topic statement expresses the topic and purpose of your paper or speech. You will refer to the topic statement as you start your research. Referring to your topic statement during research can help you stay focused. "

"Continuing the theme of coffee, here is an example topic statement:"

"I will persuade the reader that moderate consumption of coffee is beneficial. I will use recent information on the health aspects (mental and physical) of coffee consumption. I will also address the negative aspects of excessive coffee drinking. Background information will include how caffeine is processed by the human body."

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