Selecting a Research Topic: Tips for Students

Update on

Coursework is one of the main dreads of student life, and so you need to prepare carefully before you choose the topic of your term paper. In the first year, a 30-40 page paper seems completely unrealistic. By the third year, people either learn how to write big research papers or continue to dread them until they graduate.

To avoid staying in the second group, you need to start small – choose the right topic for your first term paper.

Coursework as a contribution to the future

Coursework as a contribution to the future

At university, unfortunately, you cannot write one term paper and forget about this case forever. There is one more paper ahead, a diploma, and maybe even a master's thesis. Each of them may be dedicated to a new topic. Then from year to year, you will have to collect a new theoretical part and conduct “field” research for practice.

There is another way – take a voluminous topic and research some part of it every year.

Let's say you're interested in social media, and you want to write about it. For example: “The impact of social media on society.” But there are many social networks, and they can affect different groups of people in different ways.

So this big topic can be saved until the diploma, and coursework can be dedicated to the impact of social networks on teenagers and how social networks influence people.

What are the advantages of this approach?

  • You won't have to re-study all the material written on the topic every year, it will be enough to look at what came out in the previous year;
  • You will have a full-fledged first chapter ready for graduation;
  • You have a good grasp of the topic, and you can easily answer the trickiest questions of the committee.

How to choose a term paper topic? Step-by-step instruction

How to choose a term paper topic

We are in favor of coursework topics that complement each other and add up to a voluminous diploma. But this is just a recommendation. If you like to live for today, then feel free to take a topic that you like, even if it has no continuation.

But next, let's talk about the steps you must take when choosing a term paper topic. Before choosing a term paper topic, you need to:

Step 1. Decide on a supervisor. Good supervisors, who easily find common ground with students, understand the trends, and are always ready to help, are taken apart even faster than hotcakes.

So quickly look for one with whom you are most interesting and relaxed to communicate, and sign up with him.

Step 2. Look at the topics that are offered in the department. No, we do not advise you to take them. But as a source of inspiration, such a list is fine. You can decide on the direction and understand what kind of wording is usually used.

Step 3. Make a list of things that interest you. Writing about things that don't interest you at all is a disaster. You'll bore yourself, your advisor, and then the committee with an inarticulate performance. And you'll upset your parents with a bad grade.

So before you seriously proceed to the selection of topics, make a list of things that are interesting to you. Don't be shy – it's just an outline. If you like watching videos on YouTube or Eagle and Tails, put them in, too. Maybe you and your thesis advisor can figure out how to make it into a worthwhile topic. But to make it not too difficult for him, add a couple of traditional but still interesting topics to your list as well.

Step 4. Discuss the topics with your supervisor. This is where brainstorming time comes in. Together with your professor, weed out the most unpromising topics and try to formulate those that appeal to both of you.

In the end, you should have two or three topics left. That should be enough for the next step.

Step 5. Check the amount of information on the topic. If you ever become a scholar, you will hope that no one has written anything on your topic yet. But when choosing a term paper topic, the lack of information is a big disadvantage. It is desirable that the sources for the future work were enough. As for me, when i need help writing an essay, I search for it.

So you'll be sure to get the right amount of work. And teachers like it when at the end of the term paper is a list of 20-30 references.

How to find sources for the reference list?

If at this stage you were able to decide on the topic of your term paper, then feel free to write to your tutor and start writing.

There is too much information or too little. What to do?

First, let's deal with the saddest option – there is not enough information. In this case, it is better to take another topic, because:

  • you will have a hard time writing even the first paper;
  • you will not be able to continue this topic in the next term paper or diploma;
  • the committee is unlikely to like that your sources are “sucked out of thin air”.

It's best to go back to step #2 rather than suffer from the wrong topic for the rest of the year (especially in May).

What if there is a lot of information on a topic? This situation is much more favorable. You can recall the option we suggested at the beginning of this article and turn your current topic into a future diploma topic.

To choose a topic for this year's term paper, draw a mindmap, or mind map, associative map, mind map. Put your current topic in the center and think of possible subtopics for it. For example:

If you can't do it yourself, look for similar topics in banks of essays and term papers. We told you which ones offer good related options.

When the map is ready, try to choose 4-5 topics from it and discuss them with your supervisor.

Pin It on Pinterest