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Writing The Research Paper A Handbook (7th ed) - Ch 2 choosing a topic

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Writing The Research Paper Winker - Ch 2 choosing a topic
Winkler McCuen-Metherell
Seventh Edition

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Writing The Research Paper A Handbook (7th ed) - Ch 2 choosing a topic

  1. 1. 22Choosing A Topic
  2. 2. How to Choose a Topic • Choosing a topic – the most important step in writing a research paper. • Choose a topic you like, are interested in, are an expert • Can be contemporary topic, or historical • If you can’t decide, browse at library, review books, magazines, newspapers, online public-access catalogue (OPAC) • OPAC - availability of books in library – now moving to “next generation” catalog systems (more similar to Google) – See pg. 13-14
  3. 3. How to Choose a Topic • Other ways to find a topic: • Ask the librarian – CD-Roms, online databases • Internet search - Google • Encyclopedias • Library of Congress Online http://catalog.loc.gov/ • 14 million records representing books, serials, computer files, manuscripts, cartographic materials, music, sound recordings, and visual materials • Encyclopedia Online http://www.encyclopedia.com/ • Free access to nearly 200,000 reference entries from sources you can cite related pictures, videos, topic summaries, and newspaper and magazine articles • Britannica http://www.britannica.com/
  4. 4. How to Choose a Topic • Take your time searching for a topic • Will you enjoy writing about the topic? • Keep looking if you have doubts – avoid boredom • Ask yourself questions about your interests • What do I really like? • What do I want to write about? • If you like literature, what kind of literature? • Assignment: Think about two possible topics to present to the class
  5. 5. Topics to Avoid • Topics that are too BIG • If a lot of books have been written about the topic • Bibliography is often too big • Solution is to narrow the topic • Example: India in the age of Moguls • Narrowed to: • “Royal Monuments of India during the Age of Moguls”
  6. 6. Topics to Avoid • Topics based on a single source • Research paper is intended to expose you to opinions of different authorities, books, articles, etc. • Choose a topic that is broad enough to be researched from multiple sources • Example: Biography/ life of a person • If person is not well known • Or may be “charmed” by compelling biography • Example: James Monroe  Monroe Doctine (use multiple sources)
  7. 7. Topics to Avoid • Topics that are too technical • Depends on the class • “Heisenberg’s Principle of Indeterminacy as it applies to Subparticle Research” • Good for Physics class, but not an English class
  8. 8. Topics to Avoid • Topics that are too trivial • A trivial topic can be obvious, or insignificant, does not inspire best writing • Examples: • History of the Tennis Ball • How to Diaper an Unruly Baby • Growing Carrots in my Backyard
  9. 9. Topics to Avoid • Topics that are overused • Topics that are subject to heated public debate, with familiar positions: • U.S. Examples: abortion, legalization of drugs, capital punishment, global warming, animal cruelty • Important topics, BUT, tend to use well-known arguments/prejudices • If you do use, try a new angle: Effects of RU-48 on surgical abortions
  10. 10. Topics to Avoid • Topics that are contemporary • Avoid topics that are being hotly debated currently • Should be avoided because: 1. Difficult to find unbiased sources 2. Information usually from newspapers, magazines with speculative reporting, no scholarly comment • Try finding an equivalent topic in the past: • Example: revolutionary war in Cuba (instead of current war)
  11. 11. Narrowing the Topic • “Python cannot swallow an elephant” • Experiment with your topic: pursue on train of thought, where does it lead? An arguable thesis? • Consider the length of the paper versus the size of the topic • Use trial and error
  12. 12. Narrowing the Topic

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