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Research & Write a Paper

A guide to help you through your research methods class or other semester-long research projects.

Choosing a Topic

Things to Consider

  1. The topic of your paper is wide open, up to you, as long as it follows the instructions your instructor gave you. And yes, you should choose a topic that has some interest to you personally.
  2. Look through your class notes and readings for: an idea, an historical period, one book/article/essay, one theme, two things or concepts to compare or a particular theory.
  3. Try to do as much reading as you can, taking notes as you go. Be flexible. You may not find enough or any research in the literature that supports your idea.
  4. Talk to others about your idea. After you’ve done some research, reading, note taking, try putting some of your information done on paper either in a very rough draft or an outline. Talk to your professor about your project, show her/him your rough draft/outline and ask him/her if you’re on the right track.

Narrow Your Topic

To narrow your topic, you really need to have a pretty good understanding of the overall topic.

Your topic shouldn’t be about World War II but some smaller aspect of the whole war: did FDR know about the attack at Pearl Harbor before it happened? Was the bombing of Hiroshima justified?

See Narrowing a Topic for an example of narrowing the topic “Internet Security” at the University of Idaho.


Last Updated: Oct 29, 2022 3:55 PM