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A good topic


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Suggestions on finding a research paper topic

Suggestions on finding a research paper topic

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  • 1. A good topic • Interesting and important to you. • Something you would like to learn more about. • Something on which you can keep an open mind. • Something argumentative—people might disagree. • Narrowed so that you can explore it in detail in about 3000 words.
  • 2. Some types of claims that are arguments • Taking a stand on a controversy – The goal of bilingual education should be to preserve the student’s first language while building skills in the target language. – Stem cell research should be allowed on embryonic cells that would otherwise be destroyed, but we should not purposely create cells for research.
  • 3. Some types of claims that are arguments • Evaluating something – The sequester has helped to reduce the deficit but at a great cost to the economic recovery. – The Hawaii Convention Center, while architecturally successful, is unlikely to be an economic success. – The Common Core Standards will improve public education. – The rise of social media has had more positive than negative effects.
  • 4. Some types of claims that are arguments • Proposing a solution – Mandatory premarital counseling and a waiting period of six months between applying for a license and getting married would help to decrease the number of divorces. – To decrease the shortage of health professionals, programs that pay for medical school or nursing school in exchange for service in underserved areas should be expanded.
  • 5. Some types of claims that are arguments • Arguing for a particular interpretation or way of understanding something or explaining its significance or causes when other possible interpretations exist. – Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin was successful in reaching a female audience because it appealed to her readers’ maternal instincts and religious values. – More examples on next page
  • 6. Interpretations etc. • One of the main contributors to the rise of eating disorders among young women is the distorted idea of beauty represented in the media and by the fashion industry. • The current cultural fascination with Zombies is a reflection of our fear that the human race is destroying itself with overpopulation, pollution, global warming and other dangers we are helpless to reverse.
  • 7. Where to get ideas • The media • Your academic interests • Your personal interests
  • 8. Online sites for ideas where you can read both sides • • Opinion sections of news and cultural magazine sites-or you can browse in the library • Site with a list of potential topics-but no background:
  • 9. Some periodicals that have substantive articles • Atlantic Monthly • Commonweal • Harper’s • National Geographic • New Yorker • Pacific Standard • Scientific American
  • 10. Some news and commentary websites with opinion sections • CNN • Huffington Post • Newsweek • Salon • Slate • Time
  • 11. Ideas for academic topics • Expand on something you worked on previously (Give me a copy of your old paper) • Ask a professor for suggestions. • Browse through some journals in your field. • Type your area of interest and “controversy” into a search engine.
  • 12. Pitfalls to avoid • If you choose an academic topic be sure it – is not too technical or complex – does not require too much time to research • If you choose a subject of personal interest – Be sure it can be discussed in relation to a variety of electronic or print sources not just your own experience • Plagiarizing from other students, term paper mill, Internet etc. leads to failing the course.
  • 13. Over the next 2 weeks • We will do several activities designed to help you explore topics. • For example, today we will work on an interest inventory. • Your goal is to pick a topic by Feb. 6 and spend some time investigating it by Feb. 9 when your proposal is due.