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English Composition  

A guide for writing research papers
Last Updated: Jun 12, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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About this guide

This guide provides resoruces and links to resoruces about undergraduate research and composition.

How to pick a Research Topic

There are many topics that you can write about, and choosing just one can be very challegning .  
Ask yourself these questions to help you focus your interest and make it a workable research topic:
  •    WHAT are you interested in?
  •    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?
  •    WHY did you choose the topic? What interests you about it? Do you have an opinion about the issues involved?
  •    WHERE is your topic important: at the local, national or international level? Are there specific places affected by the topic?
  •    WHEN is or was your topic important? Is it a current event or an historical issue? Do you want to research your topic as it changes over time?

  •    WHO provides information on this topic? Who publishes or produces information about it? Who is affected by your topic? Do you know which organizations or institutions focus on or are involved with this topic?
After getting an idea of what might be a good research topic follow these steps:
  1.    Narrow your topic to something manageable.  Use database filters: If your topic is too broad, you will find too much information and     not be able to focus.   

  2.   Review the guidelines on topic selection outlined in your assignment. Ask your professor for suggestions

  3.    Refer to lecture notes and required texts to refresh your knowledge of the course and assignment.

  4.   Talk about research ideas with a friend. He or she may be able to help focus your topic by discussing issues that didn't occur to you at      first.

  5.    Don't make it harder than it has to be!   You are learning how to write a research paper- don't pick a subject that you can't research    organize and write in one term.

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Bryan Fuller
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