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One of the hardest parts of writing a research paper can be just finding a good topic to write about. Fortunately we've done the hard work for you and have compiled a list of 113 interesting research paper topics. They've been organized into ten categories and cover a wide range of subjects so you can easily find the best topic for you.

In addition to the list of good research topics, we've included advice on what makes a good research paper topic and how you can use your topic to start writing a great paper.

What Makes a Good Research Paper Topic?

Not all research paper topics are created equal, and you want to make sure you choose a great topic before you start writing. Below are the three most important factors to consider to make sure you choose the best research paper topics.

#1: It's Something You're Interested In

A paper is always easier to write if you're interested in the topic, and you'll be more motivated to do in-depth research and write a paper that really covers the entire subject. Even if a certain research paper topic is getting a lot of buzz right now or other people seem interested in writing about it, don't feel tempted to make it your topic unless you genuinely have some sort of interest in it as well.

#2: There's Enough Information to Write a Paper

Even if you come up with the absolute best research paper topic and you're so excited to write about it, you won't be able to produce a good paper if there isn't enough research about the topic. This can happen for very specific or specialized topics, as well as topics that are too new to have enough research done on them at the moment. Easy research paper topics will always be topics with enough information to write a full-length paper.

Trying to write a research paper on a topic that doesn't have much research on it is incredibly hard, so before you decide on a topic, do a bit of preliminary searching and make sure you'll have all the information you need to write your paper.

#3: It Fits Your Teacher's Guidelines

Don't get so carried away looking at lists of research paper topics that you forget any requirements or restrictions your teacher may have put on research topic ideas. If you're writing a research paper on a health-related topic, deciding to write about the impact of rap on the music scene probably won't be allowed, but there may be some sort of leeway. For example, if you're really interested in current events but your teacher wants you to write a research paper on a history topic, you may be able to choose a topic that fits both categories, like exploring the relationship between the US and North Korea. No matter what, always get your research paper topic approved by your teacher first before you begin writing.

113 Good Research Paper Topics

Below are 113 good research topics to help you get you started on your paper. We've organized them into ten categories to make it easier to find the type of research paper topics you're looking for.


  • Discuss the main differences in art from the Italian Renaissance and the Northern Renaissance .
  • Analyze the impact a famous artist had on the world.
  • How is sexism portrayed in different types of media (music, film, video games, etc.)? Has the amount/type of sexism changed over the years?
  • How has the music of slaves brought over from Africa shaped modern American music?
  • How has rap music evolved in the past decade?
  • How has the portrayal of minorities in the media changed?


Current Events

  • What have been the impacts of China's one child policy?
  • How have the goals of feminists changed over the decades?
  • How has the Trump presidency changed international relations?
  • Analyze the history of the relationship between the United States and North Korea.
  • What factors contributed to the current decline in the rate of unemployment?
  • What have been the impacts of states which have increased their minimum wage?
  • How do US immigration laws compare to immigration laws of other countries?
  • How have the US's immigration laws changed in the past few years/decades?
  • How has the Black Lives Matter movement affected discussions and view about racism in the US?
  • What impact has the Affordable Care Act had on healthcare in the US?
  • What factors contributed to the UK deciding to leave the EU (Brexit)?
  • What factors contributed to China becoming an economic power?
  • Discuss the history of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies  (some of which tokenize the S&P 500 Index on the blockchain) .
  • Do students in schools that eliminate grades do better in college and their careers?
  • Do students from wealthier backgrounds score higher on standardized tests?
  • Do students who receive free meals at school get higher grades compared to when they weren't receiving a free meal?
  • Do students who attend charter schools score higher on standardized tests than students in public schools?
  • Do students learn better in same-sex classrooms?
  • How does giving each student access to an iPad or laptop affect their studies?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of the Montessori Method ?
  • Do children who attend preschool do better in school later on?
  • What was the impact of the No Child Left Behind act?
  • How does the US education system compare to education systems in other countries?
  • What impact does mandatory physical education classes have on students' health?
  • Which methods are most effective at reducing bullying in schools?
  • Do homeschoolers who attend college do as well as students who attended traditional schools?
  • Does offering tenure increase or decrease quality of teaching?
  • How does college debt affect future life choices of students?
  • Should graduate students be able to form unions?


  • What are different ways to lower gun-related deaths in the US?
  • How and why have divorce rates changed over time?
  • Is affirmative action still necessary in education and/or the workplace?
  • Should physician-assisted suicide be legal?
  • How has stem cell research impacted the medical field?
  • How can human trafficking be reduced in the United States/world?
  • Should people be able to donate organs in exchange for money?
  • Which types of juvenile punishment have proven most effective at preventing future crimes?
  • Has the increase in US airport security made passengers safer?
  • Analyze the immigration policies of certain countries and how they are similar and different from one another.
  • Several states have legalized recreational marijuana. What positive and negative impacts have they experienced as a result?
  • Do tariffs increase the number of domestic jobs?
  • Which prison reforms have proven most effective?
  • Should governments be able to censor certain information on the internet?
  • Which methods/programs have been most effective at reducing teen pregnancy?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of the Keto diet?
  • How effective are different exercise regimes for losing weight and maintaining weight loss?
  • How do the healthcare plans of various countries differ from each other?
  • What are the most effective ways to treat depression ?
  • What are the pros and cons of genetically modified foods?
  • Which methods are most effective for improving memory?
  • What can be done to lower healthcare costs in the US?
  • What factors contributed to the current opioid crisis?
  • Analyze the history and impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic .
  • Are low-carbohydrate or low-fat diets more effective for weight loss?
  • How much exercise should the average adult be getting each week?
  • Which methods are most effective to get parents to vaccinate their children?
  • What are the pros and cons of clean needle programs?
  • How does stress affect the body?
  • Discuss the history of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
  • What were the causes and effects of the Salem Witch Trials?
  • Who was responsible for the Iran-Contra situation?
  • How has New Orleans and the government's response to natural disasters changed since Hurricane Katrina?
  • What events led to the fall of the Roman Empire?
  • What were the impacts of British rule in India ?
  • Was the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki necessary?
  • What were the successes and failures of the women's suffrage movement in the United States?
  • What were the causes of the Civil War?
  • How did Abraham Lincoln's assassination impact the country and reconstruction after the Civil War?
  • Which factors contributed to the colonies winning the American Revolution?
  • What caused Hitler's rise to power?
  • Discuss how a specific invention impacted history.
  • What led to Cleopatra's fall as ruler of Egypt?
  • How has Japan changed and evolved over the centuries?
  • What were the causes of the Rwandan genocide ?


  • Why did Martin Luther decide to split with the Catholic Church?
  • Analyze the history and impact of a well-known cult (Jonestown, Manson family, etc.)
  • How did the sexual abuse scandal impact how people view the Catholic Church?
  • How has the Catholic church's power changed over the past decades/centuries?
  • What are the causes behind the rise in atheism/ agnosticism in the United States?
  • What were the influences in Siddhartha's life resulted in him becoming the Buddha?
  • How has media portrayal of Islam/Muslims changed since September 11th?


  • How has the earth's climate changed in the past few decades?
  • How has the use and elimination of DDT affected bird populations in the US?
  • Analyze how the number and severity of natural disasters have increased in the past few decades.
  • Analyze deforestation rates in a certain area or globally over a period of time.
  • How have past oil spills changed regulations and cleanup methods?
  • How has the Flint water crisis changed water regulation safety?
  • What are the pros and cons of fracking?
  • What impact has the Paris Climate Agreement had so far?
  • What have NASA's biggest successes and failures been?
  • How can we improve access to clean water around the world?
  • Does ecotourism actually have a positive impact on the environment?
  • Should the US rely on nuclear energy more?
  • What can be done to save amphibian species currently at risk of extinction?
  • What impact has climate change had on coral reefs?
  • How are black holes created?
  • Are teens who spend more time on social media more likely to suffer anxiety and/or depression?
  • How will the loss of net neutrality affect internet users?
  • Analyze the history and progress of self-driving vehicles.
  • How has the use of drones changed surveillance and warfare methods?
  • Has social media made people more or less connected?
  • What progress has currently been made with artificial intelligence ?
  • Do smartphones increase or decrease workplace productivity?
  • What are the most effective ways to use technology in the classroom?
  • How is Google search affecting our intelligence?
  • When is the best age for a child to begin owning a smartphone?
  • Has frequent texting reduced teen literacy rates?


How to Write a Great Research Paper

Even great research paper topics won't give you a great research paper if you don't hone your topic before and during the writing process. Follow these three tips to turn good research paper topics into great papers.

#1: Figure Out Your Thesis Early

Before you start writing a single word of your paper, you first need to know what your thesis will be. Your thesis is a statement that explains what you intend to prove/show in your paper. Every sentence in your research paper will relate back to your thesis, so you don't want to start writing without it!

As some examples, if you're writing a research paper on if students learn better in same-sex classrooms, your thesis might be "Research has shown that elementary-age students in same-sex classrooms score higher on standardized tests and report feeling more comfortable in the classroom."

If you're writing a paper on the causes of the Civil War, your thesis might be "While the dispute between the North and South over slavery is the most well-known cause of the Civil War, other key causes include differences in the economies of the North and South, states' rights, and territorial expansion."

#2: Back Every Statement Up With Research

Remember, this is a research paper you're writing, so you'll need to use lots of research to make your points. Every statement you give must be backed up with research, properly cited the way your teacher requested. You're allowed to include opinions of your own, but they must also be supported by the research you give.

#3: Do Your Research Before You Begin Writing

You don't want to start writing your research paper and then learn that there isn't enough research to back up the points you're making, or, even worse, that the research contradicts the points you're trying to make!

Get most of your research on your good research topics done before you begin writing. Then use the research you've collected to create a rough outline of what your paper will cover and the key points you're going to make. This will help keep your paper clear and organized, and it'll ensure you have enough research to produce a strong paper.

What's Next?

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These recommendations are based solely on our knowledge and experience. If you purchase an item through one of our links, PrepScholar may receive a commission.

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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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Research Topics & Ideas: Education

170+ Research Ideas To Fast-Track Your Project

Topic Kickstarter: Research topics in education

If you’re just starting out exploring education-related topics for your dissertation, thesis or research project, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll help kickstart your research topic ideation process by providing a hearty list of research topics and ideas , including examples from actual dissertations and theses..

PS – This is just the start…

We know it’s exciting to run through a list of research topics, but please keep in mind that this list is just a starting point . To develop a suitable education-related research topic, you’ll need to identify a clear and convincing research gap , and a viable plan of action to fill that gap.

If this sounds foreign to you, check out our free research topic webinar that explores how to find and refine a high-quality research topic, from scratch. Alternatively, if you’d like hands-on help, consider our 1-on-1 coaching service .

Overview: Education Research Topics

  • How to find a research topic (video)
  • List of 50+ education-related research topics/ideas
  • List of 120+ level-specific research topics 
  • Examples of actual dissertation topics in education
  • Tips to fast-track your topic ideation (video)
  • Free Webinar : Topic Ideation 101
  • Where to get extra help

Education-Related Research Topics & Ideas

Below you’ll find a list of education-related research topics and idea kickstarters. These are fairly broad and flexible to various contexts, so keep in mind that you will need to refine them a little. Nevertheless, they should inspire some ideas for your project.

  • The impact of school funding on student achievement
  • The effects of social and emotional learning on student well-being
  • The effects of parental involvement on student behaviour
  • The impact of teacher training on student learning
  • The impact of classroom design on student learning
  • The impact of poverty on education
  • The use of student data to inform instruction
  • The role of parental involvement in education
  • The effects of mindfulness practices in the classroom
  • The use of technology in the classroom
  • The role of critical thinking in education
  • The use of formative and summative assessments in the classroom
  • The use of differentiated instruction in the classroom
  • The use of gamification in education
  • The effects of teacher burnout on student learning
  • The impact of school leadership on student achievement
  • The effects of teacher diversity on student outcomes
  • The role of teacher collaboration in improving student outcomes
  • The implementation of blended and online learning
  • The effects of teacher accountability on student achievement
  • The effects of standardized testing on student learning
  • The effects of classroom management on student behaviour
  • The effects of school culture on student achievement
  • The use of student-centred learning in the classroom
  • The impact of teacher-student relationships on student outcomes
  • The achievement gap in minority and low-income students
  • The use of culturally responsive teaching in the classroom
  • The impact of teacher professional development on student learning
  • The use of project-based learning in the classroom
  • The effects of teacher expectations on student achievement
  • The use of adaptive learning technology in the classroom
  • The impact of teacher turnover on student learning
  • The effects of teacher recruitment and retention on student learning
  • The impact of early childhood education on later academic success
  • The impact of parental involvement on student engagement
  • The use of positive reinforcement in education
  • The impact of school climate on student engagement
  • The role of STEM education in preparing students for the workforce
  • The effects of school choice on student achievement
  • The use of technology in the form of online tutoring

Level-Specific Research Topics

Looking for research topics for a specific level of education? We’ve got you covered. Below you can find research topic ideas for primary, secondary and tertiary-level education contexts. Click the relevant level to view the respective list.

Research Topics: Pick An Education Level

Primary education.

  • Investigating the effects of peer tutoring on academic achievement in primary school
  • Exploring the benefits of mindfulness practices in primary school classrooms
  • Examining the effects of different teaching strategies on primary school students’ problem-solving skills
  • The use of storytelling as a teaching strategy in primary school literacy instruction
  • The role of cultural diversity in promoting tolerance and understanding in primary schools
  • The impact of character education programs on moral development in primary school students
  • Investigating the use of technology in enhancing primary school mathematics education
  • The impact of inclusive curriculum on promoting equity and diversity in primary schools
  • The impact of outdoor education programs on environmental awareness in primary school students
  • The influence of school climate on student motivation and engagement in primary schools
  • Investigating the effects of early literacy interventions on reading comprehension in primary school students
  • The impact of parental involvement in school decision-making processes on student achievement in primary schools
  • Exploring the benefits of inclusive education for students with special needs in primary schools
  • Investigating the effects of teacher-student feedback on academic motivation in primary schools
  • The role of technology in developing digital literacy skills in primary school students
  • Effective strategies for fostering a growth mindset in primary school students
  • Investigating the role of parental support in reducing academic stress in primary school children
  • The role of arts education in fostering creativity and self-expression in primary school students
  • Examining the effects of early childhood education programs on primary school readiness
  • Examining the effects of homework on primary school students’ academic performance
  • The role of formative assessment in improving learning outcomes in primary school classrooms
  • The impact of teacher-student relationships on academic outcomes in primary school
  • Investigating the effects of classroom environment on student behavior and learning outcomes in primary schools
  • Investigating the role of creativity and imagination in primary school curriculum
  • The impact of nutrition and healthy eating programs on academic performance in primary schools
  • The impact of social-emotional learning programs on primary school students’ well-being and academic performance
  • The role of parental involvement in academic achievement of primary school children
  • Examining the effects of classroom management strategies on student behavior in primary school
  • The role of school leadership in creating a positive school climate Exploring the benefits of bilingual education in primary schools
  • The effectiveness of project-based learning in developing critical thinking skills in primary school students
  • The role of inquiry-based learning in fostering curiosity and critical thinking in primary school students
  • The effects of class size on student engagement and achievement in primary schools
  • Investigating the effects of recess and physical activity breaks on attention and learning in primary school
  • Exploring the benefits of outdoor play in developing gross motor skills in primary school children
  • The effects of educational field trips on knowledge retention in primary school students
  • Examining the effects of inclusive classroom practices on students’ attitudes towards diversity in primary schools
  • The impact of parental involvement in homework on primary school students’ academic achievement
  • Investigating the effectiveness of different assessment methods in primary school classrooms
  • The influence of physical activity and exercise on cognitive development in primary school children
  • Exploring the benefits of cooperative learning in promoting social skills in primary school students

Secondary Education

  • Investigating the effects of school discipline policies on student behavior and academic success in secondary education
  • The role of social media in enhancing communication and collaboration among secondary school students
  • The impact of school leadership on teacher effectiveness and student outcomes in secondary schools
  • Investigating the effects of technology integration on teaching and learning in secondary education
  • Exploring the benefits of interdisciplinary instruction in promoting critical thinking skills in secondary schools
  • The impact of arts education on creativity and self-expression in secondary school students
  • The effectiveness of flipped classrooms in promoting student learning in secondary education
  • The role of career guidance programs in preparing secondary school students for future employment
  • Investigating the effects of student-centered learning approaches on student autonomy and academic success in secondary schools
  • The impact of socio-economic factors on educational attainment in secondary education
  • Investigating the impact of project-based learning on student engagement and academic achievement in secondary schools
  • Investigating the effects of multicultural education on cultural understanding and tolerance in secondary schools
  • The influence of standardized testing on teaching practices and student learning in secondary education
  • Investigating the effects of classroom management strategies on student behavior and academic engagement in secondary education
  • The influence of teacher professional development on instructional practices and student outcomes in secondary schools
  • The role of extracurricular activities in promoting holistic development and well-roundedness in secondary school students
  • Investigating the effects of blended learning models on student engagement and achievement in secondary education
  • The role of physical education in promoting physical health and well-being among secondary school students
  • Investigating the effects of gender on academic achievement and career aspirations in secondary education
  • Exploring the benefits of multicultural literature in promoting cultural awareness and empathy among secondary school students
  • The impact of school counseling services on student mental health and well-being in secondary schools
  • Exploring the benefits of vocational education and training in preparing secondary school students for the workforce
  • The role of digital literacy in preparing secondary school students for the digital age
  • The influence of parental involvement on academic success and well-being of secondary school students
  • The impact of social-emotional learning programs on secondary school students’ well-being and academic success
  • The role of character education in fostering ethical and responsible behavior in secondary school students
  • Examining the effects of digital citizenship education on responsible and ethical technology use among secondary school students
  • The impact of parental involvement in school decision-making processes on student outcomes in secondary schools
  • The role of educational technology in promoting personalized learning experiences in secondary schools
  • The impact of inclusive education on the social and academic outcomes of students with disabilities in secondary schools
  • The influence of parental support on academic motivation and achievement in secondary education
  • The role of school climate in promoting positive behavior and well-being among secondary school students
  • Examining the effects of peer mentoring programs on academic achievement and social-emotional development in secondary schools
  • Examining the effects of teacher-student relationships on student motivation and achievement in secondary schools
  • Exploring the benefits of service-learning programs in promoting civic engagement among secondary school students
  • The impact of educational policies on educational equity and access in secondary education
  • Examining the effects of homework on academic achievement and student well-being in secondary education
  • Investigating the effects of different assessment methods on student performance in secondary schools
  • Examining the effects of single-sex education on academic performance and gender stereotypes in secondary schools
  • The role of mentoring programs in supporting the transition from secondary to post-secondary education

Tertiary Education

  • The role of student support services in promoting academic success and well-being in higher education
  • The impact of internationalization initiatives on students’ intercultural competence and global perspectives in tertiary education
  • Investigating the effects of active learning classrooms and learning spaces on student engagement and learning outcomes in tertiary education
  • Exploring the benefits of service-learning experiences in fostering civic engagement and social responsibility in higher education
  • The influence of learning communities and collaborative learning environments on student academic and social integration in higher education
  • Exploring the benefits of undergraduate research experiences in fostering critical thinking and scientific inquiry skills
  • Investigating the effects of academic advising and mentoring on student retention and degree completion in higher education
  • The role of student engagement and involvement in co-curricular activities on holistic student development in higher education
  • The impact of multicultural education on fostering cultural competence and diversity appreciation in higher education
  • The role of internships and work-integrated learning experiences in enhancing students’ employability and career outcomes
  • Examining the effects of assessment and feedback practices on student learning and academic achievement in tertiary education
  • The influence of faculty professional development on instructional practices and student outcomes in tertiary education
  • The influence of faculty-student relationships on student success and well-being in tertiary education
  • The impact of college transition programs on students’ academic and social adjustment to higher education
  • The impact of online learning platforms on student learning outcomes in higher education
  • The impact of financial aid and scholarships on access and persistence in higher education
  • The influence of student leadership and involvement in extracurricular activities on personal development and campus engagement
  • Exploring the benefits of competency-based education in developing job-specific skills in tertiary students
  • Examining the effects of flipped classroom models on student learning and retention in higher education
  • Exploring the benefits of online collaboration and virtual team projects in developing teamwork skills in tertiary students
  • Investigating the effects of diversity and inclusion initiatives on campus climate and student experiences in tertiary education
  • The influence of study abroad programs on intercultural competence and global perspectives of college students
  • Investigating the effects of peer mentoring and tutoring programs on student retention and academic performance in tertiary education
  • Investigating the effectiveness of active learning strategies in promoting student engagement and achievement in tertiary education
  • Investigating the effects of blended learning models and hybrid courses on student learning and satisfaction in higher education
  • The role of digital literacy and information literacy skills in supporting student success in the digital age
  • Investigating the effects of experiential learning opportunities on career readiness and employability of college students
  • The impact of e-portfolios on student reflection, self-assessment, and showcasing of learning in higher education
  • The role of technology in enhancing collaborative learning experiences in tertiary classrooms
  • The impact of research opportunities on undergraduate student engagement and pursuit of advanced degrees
  • Examining the effects of competency-based assessment on measuring student learning and achievement in tertiary education
  • Examining the effects of interdisciplinary programs and courses on critical thinking and problem-solving skills in college students
  • The role of inclusive education and accessibility in promoting equitable learning experiences for diverse student populations
  • The role of career counseling and guidance in supporting students’ career decision-making in tertiary education
  • The influence of faculty diversity and representation on student success and inclusive learning environments in higher education

Research topic idea mega list

Education-Related Dissertations & Theses

While the ideas we’ve presented above are a decent starting point for finding a research topic in education, they are fairly generic and non-specific. So, it helps to look at actual dissertations and theses in the education space to see how this all comes together in practice.

Below, we’ve included a selection of education-related research projects to help refine your thinking. These are actual dissertations and theses, written as part of Master’s and PhD-level programs, so they can provide some useful insight as to what a research topic looks like in practice.

  • From Rural to Urban: Education Conditions of Migrant Children in China (Wang, 2019)
  • Energy Renovation While Learning English: A Guidebook for Elementary ESL Teachers (Yang, 2019)
  • A Reanalyses of Intercorrelational Matrices of Visual and Verbal Learners’ Abilities, Cognitive Styles, and Learning Preferences (Fox, 2020)
  • A study of the elementary math program utilized by a mid-Missouri school district (Barabas, 2020)
  • Instructor formative assessment practices in virtual learning environments : a posthumanist sociomaterial perspective (Burcks, 2019)
  • Higher education students services: a qualitative study of two mid-size universities’ direct exchange programs (Kinde, 2020)
  • Exploring editorial leadership : a qualitative study of scholastic journalism advisers teaching leadership in Missouri secondary schools (Lewis, 2020)
  • Selling the virtual university: a multimodal discourse analysis of marketing for online learning (Ludwig, 2020)
  • Advocacy and accountability in school counselling: assessing the use of data as related to professional self-efficacy (Matthews, 2020)
  • The use of an application screening assessment as a predictor of teaching retention at a midwestern, K-12, public school district (Scarbrough, 2020)
  • Core values driving sustained elite performance cultures (Beiner, 2020)
  • Educative features of upper elementary Eureka math curriculum (Dwiggins, 2020)
  • How female principals nurture adult learning opportunities in successful high schools with challenging student demographics (Woodward, 2020)
  • The disproportionality of Black Males in Special Education: A Case Study Analysis of Educator Perceptions in a Southeastern Urban High School (McCrae, 2021)

As you can see, these research topics are a lot more focused than the generic topic ideas we presented earlier. So, in order for you to develop a high-quality research topic, you’ll need to get specific and laser-focused on a specific context with specific variables of interest.  In the video below, we explore some other important things you’ll need to consider when crafting your research topic.

Get 1-On-1 Help

If you’re still unsure about how to find a quality research topic within education, check out our Research Topic Kickstarter service, which is the perfect starting point for developing a unique, well-justified research topic.

Research Topic Kickstarter - Need Help Finding A Research Topic?

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Hi i am an Deputy Principal in a primary school. My wish is to srudy foe Master’s degree in Education.Please advice me on which topic can be relevant for me. Thanks.

NKWAIN Chia Charles

Every topic proposed above on primary education is a starting point for me. I appreciate immensely the team that has sat down to make a detail of these selected topics just for beginners like us. Be blessed.

Nkwain Chia Charles

Kindly help me with the research questions on the topic” Effects of workplace conflict on the employees’ job performance”. The effects can be applicable in every institution,enterprise or organisation.

Kelvin Kells Grant

Greetings, I am a student majoring in Sociology and minoring in Public Administration. I’m considering any recommended research topic in the field of Sociology.

Sulemana Alhassan

I’m a student pursuing Mphil in Basic education and I’m considering any recommended research proposal topic in my field of study


Research Defense for students in senior high

Kupoluyi Regina

Kindly help me with a research topic in educational psychology. Ph.D level. Thank you.

Project-based learning is a teaching/learning type,if well applied in a classroom setting will yield serious positive impact. What can a teacher do to implement this in a disadvantaged zone like “North West Region of Cameroon ( hinterland) where war has brought about prolonged and untold sufferings on the indegins?

Damaris Nzoka

I wish to get help on topics of research on educational administration

I wish to get help on topics of research on educational administration PhD level


I am also looking for such type of title

Afriyie Saviour

I am a student of undergraduate, doing research on how to use guidance and counseling to address unwanted teenage pregnancy in school


the topics are very good regarding research & education .

William AU Mill

Can i request your suggestion topic for my Thesis about Teachers as an OFW. thanx you


Would like to request for suggestions on a topic in Economics of education,PhD level

Aza Hans

Would like to request for suggestions on a topic in Economics of education


Hi 👋 I request that you help me with a written research proposal about education the format

Cynthia abuabire

Am offering degree in education senior high School Accounting. I want a topic for my project work

Sarah Moyambo

l would like to request suggestions on a topic in managing teaching and learning, PhD level (educational leadership and management)

request suggestions on a topic in managing teaching and learning, PhD level (educational leadership and management)

Ernest Gyabaah

I would to inquire on research topics on Educational psychology, Masters degree

Aron kirui

I am PhD student, I am searching my Research topic, It should be innovative,my area of interest is online education,use of technology in education

revathy a/p letchumanan

request suggestion on topic in masters in medical education .

D.Newlands PhD.

Look at British Library as they keep a copy of all PhDs in the UK to access Open University and 6 other university e-archives, pdf downloads mostly available, all free.


May I also ask for a topic based on mathematics education for college teaching, please?


Please I am a masters student of the department of Teacher Education, Faculty of Education Please I am in need of proposed project topics to help with my final year thesis


Am a PhD student in Educational Foundations would like a sociological topic. Thank

muhammad sani

please i need a proposed thesis project regardging computer science


Greetings and Regards I am a doctoral student in the field of philosophy of education. I am looking for a new topic for my thesis. Because of my work in the elementary school, I am looking for a topic that is from the field of elementary education and is related to the philosophy of education.

shantel orox

Masters student in the field of curriculum, any ideas of a research topic on low achiever students


In the field of curriculum any ideas of a research topic on deconalization in contextualization of digital teaching and learning through in higher education

Omada Victoria Enyojo

Amazing guidelines


I am a graduate with two masters. 1) Master of arts in religious studies and 2) Master in education in foundations of education. I intend to do a Ph.D. on my second master’s, however, I need to bring both masters together through my Ph.D. research. can I do something like, ” The contribution of Philosophy of education for a quality religion education in Kenya”? kindly, assist and be free to suggest a similar topic that will bring together the two masters. thanks in advance


Hi, I am an Early childhood trainer as well as a researcher, I need more support on this topic: The impact of early childhood education on later academic success.


I’m a student in upper level secondary school and I need your support in this research topics: “Impact of incorporating project -based learning in teaching English language skills in secondary schools”.

Fitsum Ayele

Although research activities and topics should stem from reflection on one’s practice, I found this site valuable as it effectively addressed many issues we have been experiencing as practitioners.

Lavern Stigers

Your style is unique in comparison to other folks I’ve read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this site.

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academic writing research topics

100 Interesting Research Paper Topics for High Schoolers

What’s covered:, how to pick the right research topic, elements of a strong research paper.

  • Interesting Research Paper Topics

Composing a research paper can be a daunting task for first-time writers. In addition to making sure you’re using concise language and your thoughts are organized clearly, you need to find a topic that draws the reader in.

CollegeVine is here to help you brainstorm creative topics! Below are 100 interesting research paper topics that will help you engage with your project and keep you motivated until you’ve typed the final period. 

A research paper is similar to an academic essay but more lengthy and requires more research. This added length and depth is bittersweet: although a research paper is more work, you can create a more nuanced argument, and learn more about your topic. Research papers are a demonstration of your research ability and your ability to formulate a convincing argument. How well you’re able to engage with the sources and make original contributions will determine the strength of your paper. 

You can’t have a good research paper without a good research paper topic. “Good” is subjective, and different students will find different topics interesting. What’s important is that you find a topic that makes you want to find out more and make a convincing argument. Maybe you’ll be so interested that you’ll want to take it further and investigate some detail in even greater depth!

For example, last year over 4000 students applied for 500 spots in the Lumiere Research Scholar Program , a rigorous research program founded by Harvard researchers. The program pairs high-school students with Ph.D. mentors to work 1-on-1 on an independent research project . The program actually does not require you to have a research topic in mind when you apply, but pro tip: the more specific you can be the more likely you are to get in!


The introduction to a research paper serves two critical functions: it conveys the topic of the paper and illustrates how you will address it. A strong introduction will also pique the interest of the reader and make them excited to read more. Selecting a research paper topic that is meaningful, interesting, and fascinates you is an excellent first step toward creating an engaging paper that people will want to read.

Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is technically part of the introduction—generally the last sentence of it—but is so important that it merits a section of its own. The thesis statement is a declarative sentence that tells the reader what the paper is about. A strong thesis statement serves three purposes: present the topic of the paper, deliver a clear opinion on the topic, and summarize the points the paper will cover.

An example of a good thesis statement of diversity in the workforce is:

Diversity in the workplace is not just a moral imperative but also a strategic advantage for businesses, as it fosters innovation, enhances creativity, improves decision-making, and enables companies to better understand and connect with a diverse customer base.

The body is the largest section of a research paper. It’s here where you support your thesis, present your facts and research, and persuade the reader.

Each paragraph in the body of a research paper should have its own idea. The idea is presented, generally in the first sentence of the paragraph, by a topic sentence. The topic sentence acts similarly to the thesis statement, only on a smaller scale, and every sentence in the paragraph with it supports the idea it conveys.

An example of a topic sentence on how diversity in the workplace fosters innovation is:

Diversity in the workplace fosters innovation by bringing together individuals with different backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences, which stimulates creativity, encourages new ideas, and leads to the development of innovative solutions to complex problems.

The body of an engaging research paper flows smoothly from one idea to the next. Create an outline before writing and order your ideas so that each idea logically leads to another.

The conclusion of a research paper should summarize your thesis and reinforce your argument. It’s common to restate the thesis in the conclusion of a research paper.

For example, a conclusion for a paper about diversity in the workforce is:

In conclusion, diversity in the workplace is vital to success in the modern business world. By embracing diversity, companies can tap into the full potential of their workforce, promote creativity and innovation, and better connect with a diverse customer base, ultimately leading to greater success and a more prosperous future for all.

Reference Page

The reference page is normally found at the end of a research paper. It provides proof that you did research using credible sources, properly credits the originators of information, and prevents plagiarism.

There are a number of different formats of reference pages, including APA, MLA, and Chicago. Make sure to format your reference page in your teacher’s preferred style.

  • Analyze the benefits of diversity in education.
  • Are charter schools useful for the national education system?
  • How has modern technology changed teaching?
  • Discuss the pros and cons of standardized testing.
  • What are the benefits of a gap year between high school and college?
  • What funding allocations give the most benefit to students?
  • Does homeschooling set students up for success?
  • Should universities/high schools require students to be vaccinated?
  • What effect does rising college tuition have on high schoolers?
  • Do students perform better in same-sex schools?
  • Discuss and analyze the impacts of a famous musician on pop music.
  • How has pop music evolved over the past decade?
  • How has the portrayal of women in music changed in the media over the past decade?
  • How does a synthesizer work?
  • How has music evolved to feature different instruments/voices?
  • How has sound effect technology changed the music industry?
  • Analyze the benefits of music education in high schools.
  • Are rehabilitation centers more effective than prisons?
  • Are congestion taxes useful?
  • Does affirmative action help minorities?
  • Can a capitalist system effectively reduce inequality?
  • Is a three-branch government system effective?
  • What causes polarization in today’s politics?
  • Is the U.S. government racially unbiased?
  • Choose a historical invention and discuss its impact on society today.
  • Choose a famous historical leader who lost power—what led to their eventual downfall?
  • How has your country evolved over the past century?
  • What historical event has had the largest effect on the U.S.?
  • Has the government’s response to national disasters improved or declined throughout history?
  • Discuss the history of the American occupation of Iraq.
  • Explain the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
  • Is literature relevant in modern society?
  • Discuss how fiction can be used for propaganda.
  • How does literature teach and inform about society?
  • Explain the influence of children’s literature on adulthood.
  • How has literature addressed homosexuality?
  • Does the media portray minorities realistically?
  • Does the media reinforce stereotypes?
  • Why have podcasts become so popular?
  • Will streaming end traditional television?
  • What is a patriot?
  • What are the pros and cons of global citizenship?
  • What are the causes and effects of bullying?
  • Why has the divorce rate in the U.S. been declining in recent years?
  • Is it more important to follow social norms or religion?
  • What are the responsible limits on abortion, if any?
  • How does an MRI machine work?
  • Would the U.S. benefit from socialized healthcare?
  • Elderly populations
  • The education system
  • State tax bases
  • How do anti-vaxxers affect the health of the country?
  • Analyze the costs and benefits of diet culture.
  • Should companies allow employees to exercise on company time?
  • What is an adequate amount of exercise for an adult per week/per month/per day?
  • Discuss the effects of the obesity epidemic on American society.
  • Are students smarter since the advent of the internet?
  • What departures has the internet made from its original design?
  • Has digital downloading helped the music industry?
  • Discuss the benefits and costs of stricter internet censorship.
  • Analyze the effects of the internet on the paper news industry.
  • What would happen if the internet went out?
  • How will artificial intelligence (AI) change our lives?
  • What are the pros and cons of cryptocurrency?
  • How has social media affected the way people relate with each other?
  • Should social media have an age restriction?
  • Discuss the importance of source software.
  • What is more relevant in today’s world: mobile apps or websites?
  • How will fully autonomous vehicles change our lives?
  • How is text messaging affecting teen literacy?

Mental Health

  • What are the benefits of daily exercise?
  • How has social media affected people’s mental health?
  • What things contribute to poor mental and physical health?
  • Analyze how mental health is talked about in pop culture.
  • Discuss the pros and cons of more counselors in high schools.
  • How does stress affect the body?
  • How do emotional support animals help people?
  • What are black holes?
  • Discuss the biggest successes and failures of the EPA.
  • How has the Flint water crisis affected life in Michigan?
  • Can science help save endangered species?
  • Is the development of an anti-cancer vaccine possible?


  • What are the effects of deforestation on climate change?
  • Is climate change reversible?
  • How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect global warming and climate change?
  • Are carbon credits effective for offsetting emissions or just marketing?
  • Is nuclear power a safe alternative to fossil fuels?
  • Are hybrid vehicles helping to control pollution in the atmosphere?
  • How is plastic waste harming the environment?
  • Is entrepreneurism a trait people are born with or something they learn?
  • How much more should CEOs make than their average employee?
  • Can you start a business without money?
  • Should the U.S. raise the minimum wage?
  • Discuss how happy employees benefit businesses.
  • How important is branding for a business?
  • Discuss the ease, or difficulty, of landing a job today.
  • What is the economic impact of sporting events?
  • Are professional athletes overpaid?
  • Should male and female athletes receive equal pay?
  • What is a fair and equitable way for transgender athletes to compete in high school sports?
  • What are the benefits of playing team sports?
  • What is the most corrupt professional sport?

Where to Get More Research Paper Topic Ideas

If you need more help brainstorming topics, especially those that are personalized to your interests, you can use CollegeVine’s free AI tutor, Ivy . Ivy can help you come up with original research topic ideas, and she can also help with the rest of your homework, from math to languages.

Disclaimer: This post includes content sponsored by Lumiere Education.

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academic writing research topics

academic writing research topics

How to Write a Research Paper

Use the links below to jump directly to any section of this guide:

Research Paper Fundamentals

How to choose a topic or question, how to create a working hypothesis or thesis, common research paper methodologies, how to gather and organize evidence , how to write an outline for your research paper, how to write a rough draft, how to revise your draft, how to produce a final draft, resources for teachers .

It is not fair to say that no one writes anymore. Just about everyone writes text messages, brief emails, or social media posts every single day. Yet, most people don't have a lot of practice with the formal, organized writing required for a good academic research paper. This guide contains links to a variety of resources that can help demystify the process. Some of these resources are intended for teachers; they contain exercises, activities, and teaching strategies. Other resources are intended for direct use by students who are struggling to write papers, or are looking for tips to make the process go more smoothly.

The resources in this section are designed to help students understand the different types of research papers, the general research process, and how to manage their time. Below, you'll find links from university writing centers, the trusted Purdue Online Writing Lab, and more.

What is an Academic Research Paper?

"Genre and the Research Paper" (Purdue OWL)

There are different types of research papers. Different types of scholarly questions will lend themselves to one format or another. This is a brief introduction to the two main genres of research paper: analytic and argumentative. 

"7 Most Popular Types of Research Papers" (

This resource discusses formats that high school students commonly encounter, such as the compare and contrast essay and the definitional essay. Please note that the inclusion of this link is not an endorsement of this company's paid service.

How to Prepare and Plan Out Writing a Research Paper

Teachers can give their students a step-by-step guide like these to help them understand the different steps of the research paper process. These guides can be combined with the time management tools in the next subsection to help students come up with customized calendars for completing their papers.

"Ten Steps for Writing Research Papers" (American University)  

This resource from American University is a comprehensive guide to the research paper writing process, and includes examples of proper research questions and thesis topics.

"Steps in Writing a Research Paper" (SUNY Empire State College)

This guide breaks the research paper process into 11 steps. Each "step" links to a separate page, which describes the work entailed in completing it.

How to Manage Time Effectively

The links below will help students determine how much time is necessary to complete a paper. If your sources are not available online or at your local library, you'll need to leave extra time for the Interlibrary Loan process. Remember that, even if you do not need to consult secondary sources, you'll still need to leave yourself ample time to organize your thoughts.

"Research Paper Planner: Timeline" (Baylor University)

This interactive resource from Baylor University creates a suggested writing schedule based on how much time a student has to work on the assignment.

"Research Paper Planner" (UCLA)

UCLA's library offers this step-by-step guide to the research paper writing process, which also includes a suggested planning calendar.

There's a reason teachers spend a long time talking about choosing a good topic. Without a good topic and a well-formulated research question, it is almost impossible to write a clear and organized paper. The resources below will help you generate ideas and formulate precise questions.

"How to Select a Research Topic" (Univ. of Michigan-Flint)

This resource is designed for college students who are struggling to come up with an appropriate topic. A student who uses this resource and still feels unsure about his or her topic should consult the course instructor for further personalized assistance.

"25 Interesting Research Paper Topics to Get You Started" (Kibin)

This resource, which is probably most appropriate for high school students, provides a list of specific topics to help get students started. It is broken into subsections, such as "paper topics on local issues."

"Writing a Good Research Question" (Grand Canyon University)

This introduction to research questions includes some embedded videos, as well as links to scholarly articles on research questions. This resource would be most appropriate for teachers who are planning lessons on research paper fundamentals.

"How to Write a Research Question the Right Way" (Kibin)

This student-focused resource provides more detail on writing research questions. The language is accessible, and there are embedded videos and examples of good and bad questions.

It is important to have a rough hypothesis or thesis in mind at the beginning of the research process. People who have a sense of what they want to say will have an easier time sorting through scholarly sources and other information. The key, of course, is not to become too wedded to the draft hypothesis or thesis. Just about every working thesis gets changed during the research process.

CrashCourse Video: "Sociology Research Methods" (YouTube)

Although this video is tailored to sociology students, it is applicable to students in a variety of social science disciplines. This video does a good job demonstrating the connection between the brainstorming that goes into selecting a research question and the formulation of a working hypothesis.

"How to Write a Thesis Statement for an Analytical Essay" (YouTube)

Students writing analytical essays will not develop the same type of working hypothesis as students who are writing research papers in other disciplines. For these students, developing the working thesis may happen as a part of the rough draft (see the relevant section below). 

"Research Hypothesis" (Oakland Univ.)

This resource provides some examples of hypotheses in social science disciplines like Political Science and Criminal Justice. These sample hypotheses may also be useful for students in other soft social sciences and humanities disciplines like History.

When grading a research paper, instructors look for a consistent methodology. This section will help you understand different methodological approaches used in research papers. Students will get the most out of these resources if they use them to help prepare for conversations with teachers or discussions in class.

"Types of Research Designs" (USC)

A "research design," used for complex papers, is related to the paper's method. This resource contains introductions to a variety of popular research designs in the social sciences. Although it is not the most intuitive site to read, the information here is very valuable. 

"Major Research Methods" (YouTube)

Although this video is a bit on the dry side, it provides a comprehensive overview of the major research methodologies in a format that might be more accessible to students who have struggled with textbooks or other written resources.

"Humanities Research Strategies" (USC)

This is a portal where students can learn about four methodological approaches for humanities papers: Historical Methodologies, Textual Criticism, Conceptual Analysis, and the Synoptic method.

"Selected Major Social Science Research Methods: Overview" (National Academies Press)

This appendix from the book  Using Science as Evidence in Public Policy , printed by National Academies Press, introduces some methods used in social science papers.

"Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: 6. The Methodology" (USC)

This resource from the University of Southern California's library contains tips for writing a methodology section in a research paper.

How to Determine the Best Methodology for You

Anyone who is new to writing research papers should be sure to select a method in consultation with their instructor. These resources can be used to help prepare for that discussion. They may also be used on their own by more advanced students.

"Choosing Appropriate Research Methodologies" (Palgrave Study Skills)

This friendly and approachable resource from Palgrave Macmillan can be used by students who are just starting to think about appropriate methodologies.

"How to Choose Your Research Methods" (NFER (UK))

This is another approachable resource students can use to help narrow down the most appropriate methods for their research projects.

The resources in this section introduce the process of gathering scholarly sources and collecting evidence. You'll find a range of material here, from introductory guides to advanced explications best suited to college students. Please consult the LitCharts  How to Do Academic Research guide for a more comprehensive list of resources devoted to finding scholarly literature.

Google Scholar

Students who have access to library websites with detailed research guides should start there, but people who do not have access to those resources can begin their search for secondary literature here.

"Gathering Appropriate Information" (Texas Gateway)

This resource from the Texas Gateway for online resources introduces students to the research process, and contains interactive exercises. The level of complexity is suitable for middle school, high school, and introductory college classrooms.

"An Overview of Quantitative and Qualitative Data Collection Methods" (NSF)

This PDF from the National Science Foundation goes into detail about best practices and pitfalls in data collection across multiple types of methodologies.

"Social Science Methods for Data Collection and Analysis" (Swiss FIT)

This resource is appropriate for advanced undergraduates or teachers looking to create lessons on research design and data collection. It covers techniques for gathering data via interviews, observations, and other methods.

"Collecting Data by In-depth Interviewing" (Leeds Univ.)

This resource contains enough information about conducting interviews to make it useful for teachers who want to create a lesson plan, but is also accessible enough for college juniors or seniors to make use of it on their own.

There is no "one size fits all" outlining technique. Some students might devote all their energy and attention to the outline in order to avoid the paper. Other students may benefit from being made to sit down and organize their thoughts into a lengthy sentence outline. The resources in this section include strategies and templates for multiple types of outlines. 

"Topic vs. Sentence Outlines" (UC Berkeley)

This resource introduces two basic approaches to outlining: the shorter topic-based approach, and the longer, more detailed sentence-based approach. This resource also contains videos on how to develop paper paragraphs from the sentence-based outline.

"Types of Outlines and Samples" (Purdue OWL)

The Purdue Online Writing Lab's guide is a slightly less detailed discussion of different types of outlines. It contains several sample outlines.

"Writing An Outline" (Austin C.C.)

This resource from a community college contains sample outlines from an American history class that students can use as models.

"How to Structure an Outline for a College Paper" (YouTube)

This brief (sub-2 minute) video from the ExpertVillage YouTube channel provides a model of outline writing for students who are struggling with the idea.

"Outlining" (Harvard)

This is a good resource to consult after completing a draft outline. It offers suggestions for making sure your outline avoids things like unnecessary repetition.

As with outlines, rough drafts can take on many different forms. These resources introduce teachers and students to the various approaches to writing a rough draft. This section also includes resources that will help you cite your sources appropriately according to the MLA, Chicago, and APA style manuals.

"Creating a Rough Draft for a Research Paper" (Univ. of Minnesota)

This resource is useful for teachers in particular, as it provides some suggested exercises to help students with writing a basic rough draft. 

Rough Draft Assignment (Duke of Definition)

This sample assignment, with a brief list of tips, was developed by a high school teacher who runs a very successful and well-reviewed page of educational resources.

"Creating the First Draft of Your Research Paper" (Concordia Univ.)

This resource will be helpful for perfectionists or procrastinators, as it opens by discussing the problem of avoiding writing. It also provides a short list of suggestions meant to get students writing.

Using Proper Citations

There is no such thing as a rough draft of a scholarly citation. These links to the three major citation guides will ensure that your citations follow the correct format. Please consult the LitCharts How to Cite Your Sources guide for more resources.

Chicago Manual of Style Citation Guide

Some call  The Chicago Manual of Style , which was first published in 1906, "the editors' Bible." The manual is now in its 17th edition, and is popular in the social sciences, historical journals, and some other fields in the humanities.

APA Citation Guide

According to the American Psychological Association, this guide was developed to aid reading comprehension, clarity of communication, and to reduce bias in language in the social and behavioral sciences. Its first full edition was published in 1952, and it is now in its sixth edition.

MLA Citation Guide

The Modern Language Association style is used most commonly within the liberal arts and humanities. The  MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing  was first published in 1985 and (as of 2008) is in its third edition.

Any professional scholar will tell you that the best research papers are made in the revision stage. No matter how strong your research question or working thesis, it is not possible to write a truly outstanding paper without devoting energy to revision. These resources provide examples of revision exercises for the classroom, as well as tips for students working independently.

"The Art of Revision" (Univ. of Arizona)

This resource provides a wealth of information and suggestions for both students and teachers. There is a list of suggested exercises that teachers might use in class, along with a revision checklist that is useful for teachers and students alike.

"Script for Workshop on Revision" (Vanderbilt University)

Vanderbilt's guide for leading a 50-minute revision workshop can serve as a model for teachers who wish to guide students through the revision process during classtime. 

"Revising Your Paper" (Univ. of Washington)

This detailed handout was designed for students who are beginning the revision process. It discusses different approaches and methods for revision, and also includes a detailed list of things students should look for while they revise.

"Revising Drafts" (UNC Writing Center)

This resource is designed for students and suggests things to look for during the revision process. It provides steps for the process and has a FAQ for students who have questions about why it is important to revise.

Conferencing with Writing Tutors and Instructors

No writer is so good that he or she can't benefit from meeting with instructors or peer tutors. These resources from university writing, learning, and communication centers provide suggestions for how to get the most out of these one-on-one meetings.

"Getting Feedback" (UNC Writing Center)

This very helpful resource talks about how to ask for feedback during the entire writing process. It contains possible questions that students might ask when developing an outline, during the revision process, and after the final draft has been graded.

"Prepare for Your Tutoring Session" (Otis College of Art and Design)

This guide from a university's student learning center contains a lot of helpful tips for getting the most out of working with a writing tutor.

"The Importance of Asking Your Professor" (Univ. of Waterloo)

This article from the university's Writing and Communication Centre's blog contains some suggestions for how and when to get help from professors and Teaching Assistants.

Once you've revised your first draft, you're well on your way to handing in a polished paper. These resources—each of them produced by writing professionals at colleges and universities—outline the steps required in order to produce a final draft. You'll find proofreading tips and checklists in text and video form.

"Developing a Final Draft of a Research Paper" (Univ. of Minnesota)

While this resource contains suggestions for revision, it also features a couple of helpful checklists for the last stages of completing a final draft.

Basic Final Draft Tips and Checklist (Univ. of Maryland-University College)

This short and accessible resource, part of UMUC's very thorough online guide to writing and research, contains a very basic checklist for students who are getting ready to turn in their final drafts.

Final Draft Checklist (Everett C.C.)

This is another accessible final draft checklist, appropriate for both high school and college students. It suggests reading your essay aloud at least once.

"How to Proofread Your Final Draft" (YouTube)

This video (approximately 5 minutes), produced by Eastern Washington University, gives students tips on proofreading final drafts.

"Proofreading Tips" (Georgia Southern-Armstrong)

This guide will help students learn how to spot common errors in their papers. It suggests focusing on content and editing for grammar and mechanics.

This final set of resources is intended specifically for high school and college instructors. It provides links to unit plans and classroom exercises that can help improve students' research and writing skills. You'll find resources that give an overview of the process, along with activities that focus on how to begin and how to carry out research. 

"Research Paper Complete Resources Pack" (Teachers Pay Teachers)

This packet of assignments, rubrics, and other resources is designed for high school students. The resources in this packet are aligned to Common Core standards.

"Research Paper—Complete Unit" (Teachers Pay Teachers)

This packet of assignments, notes, PowerPoints, and other resources has a 4/4 rating with over 700 ratings. It is designed for high school teachers, but might also be useful to college instructors who work with freshmen.

"Teaching Students to Write Good Papers" (Yale)

This resource from Yale's Center for Teaching and Learning is designed for college instructors, and it includes links to appropriate activities and exercises.

"Research Paper Writing: An Overview" (CUNY Brooklyn)

CUNY Brooklyn offers this complete lesson plan for introducing students to research papers. It includes an accompanying set of PowerPoint slides.

"Lesson Plan: How to Begin Writing a Research Paper" (San Jose State Univ.)

This lesson plan is designed for students in the health sciences, so teachers will have to modify it for their own needs. It includes a breakdown of the brainstorming, topic selection, and research question process. 

"Quantitative Techniques for Social Science Research" (Univ. of Pittsburgh)

This is a set of PowerPoint slides that can be used to introduce students to a variety of quantitative methods used in the social sciences.

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500 Good Research Paper Topics

Bonus Material: Essential essay checklist

Writing a research paper for a class and not sure how to start?

One of the most important steps to creating a great paper is finding a good topic! 

Here’s a hand-drafted list from a Princeton grad who has helped professors at Harvard and Yale edit their papers for publication and taught college writing at the University of Notre Dame and .

What’s more, we give you some foolproof formulas for creating your own paper topic to fit the requirements of your class.

Using these simple formulas, we’ve helped hundreds of students turn a B- paper topic into an A+ paper topic.

Keep reading for our list of 500 vetted research paper topics and our magic formulas for creating your own topic!

Of course, if you want help learning to write research papers tailored to your individual needs, check out our one-on-one writing coaching or academic writing workshop . Set up a free consultation to see how we can help you learn to write A+ papers!

Jump to paper topics in:

European & Mediterranean History

African history, asian history, history of the pre-columbian americas.

  • Latin American History

History of Science

Politics & public policy, education & education policy, political theory, science policy.

  • Health Sciences & Psychology

Download the essential essay checklist

What is a research paper?

In order to write a good research paper, it’s important to know what it is! 

In general, we can divide academic writing into three broad categories:

  • Analytical: analyze the tools an author uses to make their point
  • Research: delve deeply into a research topic and share your findings
  • Persuasive : argue a specific and nuanced position backed by evidence

What’s the difference between an analytical paper and a research paper? For an analytical paper, it’s okay to just use one or two sources (a book, poem, work of art, piece of music, etc.) and examine them in detail. For a research paper, however, the expectation is that you do, well . . . research .

student writing research paper

The depth of research that you’re expected to do will depend on your age and the type of class you’re taking.

In elementary or middle school, a “research paper” might mean finding information from a few general books or encyclopedias in your school library. 

In high school, your teachers might expect you to start using information from academic articles and more specific books. You might use encyclopedias and general works as a starting point, but you’ll be expected to go beyond them and do more work to synthesize information from different perspectives or different types of sources. You may also be expected to do “primary research,” where you study the source material yourself, instead of synthesizing what other people have written about the source material.

In college, you’ll be required to use academic journals and scholarly books, and your professors will now expect that you be more critical of these secondary sources, noticing the methodology and perspectives of whatever articles and books you’re using. 

In more advanced college courses, you’ll be expected to do more exhaustive surveys of the existing literature on a topic. You’ll need to conduct primary research that makes an original contribution to the field—the kind that could be published in a journal article itself.

For a walkthrough of the 12 essential steps to writing a good paper, check out our step-by-step guide .

student writing research paper

Working on a research paper? Grab our free checklist to make sure your essay has everything it needs to earn an A grade.

Get the essential essay checklist

What makes a good research paper topic?

One of the most important features of a research paper topic is that it has a clear, narrow focus. 

For example, your teacher may assign you to write a research paper related to the US Revolutionary War. Does that mean that your topic should be “the US Revolutionary War”? 

Definitely not! There’s no way to craft a good paper with in-depth research with such a broad topic. (Unless you’re in elementary or middle school, in which case it’s okay to have a more general topic for your research paper.)

Instead, you need to find a more specific topic within this broader one. There are endless ways that you can make this narrower! Some ideas generated from this one broader topic might be:

  • Causes of the US Revolutionary War
  • Changes in military strategy during the Revolutionary War
  • The experiences of Loyalists to England who remained in the American colonies during the Revolutionary War
  • How the Revolutionary War was pivotal for the career of Alexander Hamilton
  • The role of alliances with France during the US Revolutionary War
  • The experiences of people of color during the Revolutionary War
  • How George Washington’s previous military career paved the way for his leadership in the Revolutionary War
  • The main types of weaponry during the Revolutionary War
  • Changes in clothing and fashion over the courses of the Revolutionary War
  • How Valley Forge was a key moment in the Revolutionary War
  • How women contributed to the Revolutionary War
  • What happened in Amherst, Massachusetts during the Revolutionary War
  • Field medicine during the Revolutionary War
  • How the Battle of Saratoga was a turning point in the Revolutionary War
  • How different opinions about the Revolutionary War were reflected in poetry written during that time
  • Debates over abolition during the Revolutionary War
  • The importance of supply chains during the Revolutionary War
  • Reactions to the US Revolutionary war in Europe
  • How the US Revolutionary war impacted political theory in England and France
  • Similarities and differences between the US Revolutionary War and the French Revolution
  • Famous paintings inspired by the US Revolutionary War
  • Different ways that the US Revolutionary War has been depicted in modern contemporary culture
  • The appropriation of the “Boston Tea Party” by US politicians in the 2010s

This list could go on forever!

good research paper topics about the US Revolution

In fact, any of these topics could become even more specific. For example, check out the evolution of this topic:

  • Economic causes of the Revolutionary war
  • The way that tax policies helped lead to the Revolutionary War
  • How tax laws enacted 1763–1775 helped lead to the Revolutionary War
  • How the tax-free status of the British East India Company helped lead to the Revolutionary War
  • How the 1773 tax-free status of the British East India Company helped lead to the Revolutionary War, as reflected in letters written 1767–1775
  • How the 1773 tax-free status of the British East India Company helped lead to the Revolutionary War, as reflected in letters written by members of the Sons of Liberty 1767–1775

As you advance in your educational career, you’ll need to make your topic more and more specific. Steps 1–3 of this topic might be okay in high school, but for a college research paper steps 4–7 would be more appropriate!

As you craft your research paper topic, you should also keep in mind the availability of research materials on your subject. There are millions of topics that would make interesting research papers, but for which you yourself might not be able to investigate with the primary and secondary sources to which you have access.

Access to research materials might look like:

  • To the best of our knowledge, the sources exist somewhere
  • The source isn’t behind a paywall (or you or your school can pay for it)
  • Your school or local library has a copy of the source
  • Your school or local library can order a copy of the source for you
  • The source is in a language that you speak
  • The source has been published already (there’s tons of amazing research that hasn’t been published yet, a frustrating problem!)
  • You can access the archive, museum, or database where the primary source is held—this might mean online access or travel! To access a source in an archive or museum you’ll often need permission, which often requires a letter of support from your school.

If you’re not sure about access to source materials, talk to a librarian! They’re professionals for this question.

Finally, pick a research topic that interests you! Given that there are unlimited research topics in the world and many ways to adapt a broad topic, there should absolutely be a way to modify a research topic to fit your interests.

student writing research paper

Want help learning to write an amazing research paper? Work one-on-one with an experienced Ivy-League tutor to improve your writing skills or sign up for our bestselling academic writing workshop .

Insider tips to generate your own research paper topic

Use these formulas to generate your own research paper topics:

  • How did X change over a period of time (year, decade, century)?
  • What is the impact (or consequences) of X?
  • What led to X?
  • What is the role of X in Y?
  • How did X influence Y?
  • How did X become Y?
  • How was X different from Y?
  • How is X an example of Y?
  • How did X affect Y?
  • What were some reactions to X?
  • What are the most effective policies to produce X result?
  • What are some risks of X?
  • How is our current understanding of X incorrect? (advanced)
  • What happens if we look at X through the lens of Y theory or perspective? (advanced)

A good research paper topic often starts with the question words—why, how, what, who, and where. Remember to make it as specific as possible!

student writing research paper

Good research paper topics

These research paper topics have been vetted by a Princeton grad and academic book editor!

  • How did European rivalries (British vs French) impact North American history?
  • What was the role of British and French alliances with indigneous tribes during the Seven Years’ War?
  • Reactions to the 1754 Albany Congress among North American intellectual figures
  • How the Albany Plan served as a model for future attempts at union among the North American colonies
  • How did different religious identities (Calvinist, Catholic, etc.) play a role in the aftermath of the Seven Years’ War?
  • What were the consequences of the 1763 Treaty of Paris?
  • How did the Seven Years’ War impact British debt and colonial economics?
  • What were some causes of the US Revolutionary War?
  • How did military strategy change during the Revolutionary War?
  • What were the experiences of Loyalists to England who remained in the American colonies during the Revolutionary War?
  • How was the Revolutionary War pivotal for the career of Alexander Hamilton?
  • What was the role of alliances with France during the US Revolutionary War?
  • What were the experiences of people of color during the Revolutionary War?
  • How did George Washington’s previous military career pave the way for his leadership in the Revolutionary War?
  • What were the main types of weaponry during the Revolutionary War? How did that affect the options for military strategies?
  • How did clothing and fashion change over the courses of the Revolutionary War?
  • How was Valley Forge a key moment in the Revolutionary War?
  • How did women contribute to the Revolutionary War?
  • What happened in Amherst, Massachusetts (or any other specific location) during the Revolutionary War?
  • What was field medicine like during the Revolutionary War? 
  • How was the Battle of Saratoga a turning point in the Revolutionary War?
  • How were different opinions about the Revolutionary War reflected in poetry written during that time?
  • What were the debates over abolition during the Revolutionary War?
  • What was the role of supply chains during the Revolutionary War?
  • What were reactions to the US Revolutionary war like in Europe? What does that tell us about politics in England, France, the Netherlands, etc?
  • How did the US Revolutionary war impact political theory in England and France?
  • What are similarities and differences between the US Revolutionary War and the French Revolution?
  • What are some famous paintings inspired by the US Revolutionary War? What do differences between these paintings tell us about how the artists who created them saw the war?
  • What are some different ways that the US Revolutionary War has been depicted in modern contemporary culture? What does that tell us?
  • How was the story of the “Boston Tea Party” appropriated by US politicians in the 2010s, and why?
  • What was the difference between the Federalists and the Jeffersonians?
  • How did the 1797 XYZ Affair lead to the Quasi-War with France?
  • How were loans from European countries and companies (France, Spain, Dutch bankers) key to the early US?
  • What were reactions to the Constitutional Convention of 1787?
  • Why did the US remain neutral during the French Revolution?
  • How did the Alien and Sedition acts contribute to the election of Thomas Jefferson as president?
  • What was the US’s reaction to the Haitian revolution? Why did the US not recognize Haitian independence until 1862?
  • What were the reactions to John Jay’s Treaty of 1794?
  • How have the remarks made by George Washington in his Farewell Address inspired isolationist policies?
  • How did interpretations of the Monroe Doctrine change over the decades since its creation? 
  • How did the Roosevelt Corollary and Lodge Corollary change and expand the Monroe Doctrine?
  • How did the presence of US companies like the United Fruit Company affect US military interventions in Latin America? 
  • How was the Monroe Doctrine invoked in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962? 
  • How was US culture shaped by the Cold War?
  • How did ecology play a role in the rise of Ancient Egypt?
  • How did water management technologies impact Ancient Egypt?
  • How did bureaucracies function in Ancient Egypt?
  • How did Egyptian art influence Ancient Greek art?
  • Who could be a citizen in Athens in the 5th century BCE? What does this tell us about classical Athenian society?
  • What was the impact of the Peloponnesian War?
  • What was the impact of Alexander the Great’s attempt to create an empire?
  • How does the way that Alexander the Great is represented in art demonstrate conceptions about the relationship between the human and the divine?
  • Was there a conception of race in the ancient world? How were these ideas different from our own modern conceptions of race?
  • What was the role of debt slavery in the Roman republic? How were these policies ended, and what is the significance of the end of debt slavery? What kinds of slavery remained?
  • To what degree does the movie Gladiator accurately the Roman Empire in 176–192 CE?
  • What was the role of slavery in managing the large latifundia ?
  • How and why did the emperor Constantine I adopt Christianity?
  • How did patterns of urbanism in the latter Roman empire change? What does this tell us about challenges being faced at that time?
  • What do reactions to the Byzantine empress Theodora tell us about ideas of gender in 6th-century Byzantium?
  • How did scientific advancements in Islamic Spain influence the rest of Europe?
  • What was the relationship between Muslim, Christian, and Jewish populations in Islamic Spain? How does this compare to the experience of Muslim and Jewish populations in Christian Spain?
  • How did medieval troubadour poetry represent a new idea of romantic relationships?
  • What are similarities and differences between medieval troubadour poetry and lyric poetry in Ancient Greece? 
  • What do letters between women and popes tell us about gender, power, and religion in medieval Europe?
  • In what ways was Hildegard of Bingen groundbreaking for her time?
  • Who produced beer in medieval England, and what does this tell us about society?
  • How did the adoption of hops affect the production and distribution of beer?
  • How did beer production allow some women a way to be financially independent?
  • How was clothing used to mark religious and cultural identities in 15th- and 16th-century Spain?
  • How did print culture change relationships and courting in Georgian England?
  • How did churches function as social gathering spaces in Georgian England?
  • To what degree is Netflix’s Bridgerton series historically accurate?
  • How did ideas of love change in the 18th century? How did philosophy play a role in this?
  • When were Valentine cards first commercially available? What does that show us about cultural ideas of love and courtship?
  • What were the consequences of the desertification of the Sahara?
  • How did trade links on the Red Sea influence Nubian culture?
  • How did Carthage build power in Northern Africa around 600–500 BCE?
  • What was the impact of the Mercenary War (241–238 BCE) in Carthage?
  • How did the Roman province of Africa play a key role in financing the Roman Empire?
  • What were the consequences of the Donatist division in the 300s in Northern Africa?
  • What was the impact of the large-scale movement of Bedouins from the Arabian peninsula into the Maghreb?
  • How was Mande society organized in the Mali Empire? 
  • What was the role of the book trade in Timbuktu? What does this tell us about culture and learning in the Mali Empire?
  • How did Aksum use trade to build wealth and power? 
  • What do Nok terracotta sculptures tell us about Nok culture?
  • How did the Luba Empire create a centralized political system? How did the idea of spiritual kins ( balopwe ) play a role in this system?
  • How did tax collection work in the Lunda empire?
  • What does it mean to say that the Ajuran Empire was a hydraulic empire? How did control over water resources allow the Ajuran Empire to build and consolidate power?
  • What is the significance of diplomatic ties between the Somai Ajuran Empire and Ming dynasty China? 
  • How did the tribute system in the Kingdom of Kongo help to stimulate interregional trade?
  • What was the impact of the introduction of maize and cassava to the Kingdom of Kongo?
  • How did women wield influence in the Kingdom of Benin?
  • How did the Industrial Revolution in Europe help lead to the Scramble for Africa 1878–1898?
  • What were the consequences of the Second Boer War?
  • What happened in the Year of Africa (1960)?
  • How did the Han dynasty consolidate power in frontier regions? 
  • How and why did the Han dynasty nationalize the private salt and iron industries in 117 BCE?
  • What are the earliest records of papermaking, and what is the significance of this invention?
  • What was the role of Daoist religious societies in rebellions at the end of the Han dynasty (Yellow Turban Rebellion, Five Pecks of Rice Rebellion)?
  • What do tomb paintings tell us about ancient Chinese society?
  • What was the impact of the Sui dynasty’s standardization and re-unification of the coinage?
  • What was the role of standardized testing in Sui dynasty and Tang dynasty China?
  • Why is the Tang dynasty often regarded as a golden age of cosmopolitan culture in Chinese history?
  • What was the role of slavery in imperial China? 
  • How did the rise of jiedushi (regional military governments) undermine the civil-service system? What were the consequences of this?
  • How did Tang dynasty China exert power over Japan and Korea?
  • What was the Three Departments and Six Ministries system in imperial China and how did it work?
  • What does the appearance of Inca, Maya, and Aztec goods in North America (Utah, Canada) and the appearance of goods from the Great Lakes region in Maya and Aztec ruins tell us about trade in the Pre-Columbian Americas?
  • How did celebration of maize play a central role in Mesoamerican cultures?
  • How did the Aztec empire use relationships with client city-states to establish power? How did the Aztec empire use taxation to exert power?
  • How did the luxury good trade impact Aztec political power? 
  • How did the building of roads play a key role in the Aztec empire?
  • How and why has archaeology played a pivotal role in expanding our understanding of the pre-Columbian Americas?
  • What are some common misconceptions about the Americas in the year 1491? Why do these misconceptions exist?

Latin American History (post-1492)

  • How and why did the Spanish appropriate Aztec sites of significance (e.g. Mexico City at the site of Tenochtitlan)?
  • What were reactions among Latin American intellectuals (e.g. Luis María Drago, Alejandro Álvarez and Baltasar Brum) to the Monroe Doctrine?
  • How was the US’s involvement in the Venezuela Crisis of 1902–1903 a pivotal turning point in the relationship between the US and Latin American countries?
  • What were the effects of the US’s involvement in the Cuban War for Independence?
  • How did the Roosevelt Corollary of 1904 benefit the US?
  • How did Simon Bolivar’s time in Europe affect his ideas about Latin American independence?
  • How did 19th century academic societies play a role in the advancement of scientific discoveries? Who was excluded from these societies?
  • How was music connected to the sciences in medieval thinking?
  • When was the concept of zero first used, and how was it instrumental for advancements in math?
  • What role did Islamic Spain play in the spread of scientific advancements in medieval Europe?
  • What role has translation between languages played in the development of sciences?
  • Why were Galileo’s ideas about astronomy controversial at the time?
  • What was the connection between art and advancements in human anatomy?
  • Why were Darwin’s ideas about natural selection controversial at the time?
  • To what degree does the film Master and Commander accurately depict the voyages of Charles Darwin?
  • How did the discovery of quinine and other medical innovations help to facilitate the European colonization of Africa?
  • How and why was the internet invented?
  • Does Virgil’s Aeneid celebrate the new Roman Empire or subvert it?
  • Why was the poet Ovid exiled from Rome?
  • What are the pagan influences in Beowulf ? What are the Christian elements in Beowulf ? What does that tell us about late Anglo-Saxon England?
  • How does Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales reflect gender roles in late medieval England?
  • How does Dante’s Inferno draw on book IV of Virgil’s Aeneid ? 
  • How are gender roles presented and subverted in Shakespeare’s plays?
  • To what degree did Henry David Thoreau live out the ideals he described in Walden in his own life?
  • How did the serialized publication of novels affect the way that they were written?
  • Does Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities accurately portray the French Revolution?
  • How did 18th-century novels propagate the idea of marrying for love?
  • What did contemporary readers think about Jane Austen and her novels?
  • To what degree do Jane Austen’s novels reflect economic realities for women in Regency England? What do they leave out?
  • How did Lord Byron’s personal life affect his poetry?
  • What do we know about the romantic life of Emily Dickinson?
  • What were the religious movements that influenced the writer George Eliot, and how do those influences appear in her novels?
  • In what ways were Walt Whitman’s writings new or different?
  • How did British poets react to the horrors of Word War I?
  • What do Tolkien’s letters reveal about the ways in which the two world wars influenced his writings?
  • How did the friendship between CS Lewis and Tolkien affect their respective writings?
  • What are the arguments for and against Catalonian independence from Spain?
  • What are the arguments for and against Scottish independence from the United Kingdom?
  • What are some risks of contact sports, especially for children?
  • What are the most effective policies for combating childhood obesity?
  • What are the most effective policies for reducing gun violence?
  • Which countries have the longest life expectancy and why?
  • What are some differences between the healthcare system in the US and in European countries? Which country has the most similar system to the US?
  • What policies for parental leave exist in different countries? What are some effects of these policies?
  • Has the drinking age in the US always been 21? What have been some different policies, and what were some consequences of them?
  • What is the debate around museum artifacts like the Elgin Marbles in London or the Benin Bronzes in Berlin?
  • How have politicians attempted to control population growth in different countries, either directly or indirectly? What have been some effects of these policies?
  • Which countries have the most gender parity reflected in national governments? How have they accomplished this?
  • How has public funding of K-12 education changed since the 1930s in the US? 
  • How has public funding of higher education changed in the US?
  • What is early childhood education like in different countries?
  • What are some effects of free or reduced-cost meals in schools?
  • How does access to menstrual products affect education outcomes for girls in different countries?
  • What was the impact of Rousseau’s writings on education?
  • How did Plato’s ideal forms of government reflect contemporary Athenian concerns about the unruly masses ( demos )?
  • How did Aristotle justify slavery?
  • How has wealth inequality increased in recent decades?
  • How is inflation calculated, and what are the implications of this methodology?
  • How have genetically-engineered crops changed the way that the planet feeds itself?
  • How has animal testing changed since 2000?
  • How is animal testing regulated differently in different countries?

Health Sciences and Psychology

  • How do different societies reflect the natural circadian rhythms of the human body?
  • How does secondhand smoke affect the human body?
  • How does lack of sleep affect the body?
  • How does stress affect the body?
  • What are some ways to reduce stress?
  • How have cancer treatments changed in the past 30 years?
  • Why is it hard to find a “cure” for cancer?
  • How has the Human Genome Project changed medical science?
  • How were the Covid vaccines developed so quickly? What is the difference between the various Covid vaccines that have been developed?

Ready to start working on your research paper?

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academic writing research topics

Emily graduated  summa cum laude  from Princeton University and holds an MA from the University of Notre Dame. She was a National Merit Scholar and has won numerous academic prizes and fellowships. A veteran of the publishing industry, she has helped professors at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton revise their books and articles. Over the last decade, Emily has successfully mentored hundreds of students in all aspects of the college admissions process, including the SAT, ACT, and college application essay. 


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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Purpose of Guide
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  • Broadening a Topic Idea
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Importance of Narrowing the Research Topic

Whether you are assigned a general issue to investigate, must choose a problem to study from a list given to you by your professor, or you have to identify your own topic to investigate, it is important that the scope of the research problem is not too broad, otherwise, it will be difficult to adequately address the topic in the space and time allowed. You could experience a number of problems if your topic is too broad, including:

  • You find too many information sources and, as a consequence, it is difficult to decide what to include or exclude or what are the most relevant sources.
  • You find information that is too general and, as a consequence, it is difficult to develop a clear framework for examining the research problem.
  • A lack of sufficient parameters that clearly define the research problem makes it difficult to identify and apply the proper methods needed to analyze it.
  • You find information that covers a wide variety of concepts or ideas that can't be integrated into one paper and, as a consequence, you trail off into unnecessary tangents.

Lloyd-Walker, Beverly and Derek Walker. "Moving from Hunches to a Research Topic: Salient Literature and Research Methods." In Designs, Methods and Practices for Research of Project Management . Beverly Pasian, editor. ( Burlington, VT: Gower Publishing, 2015 ), pp. 119-129.

Strategies for Narrowing the Research Topic

A common challenge when beginning to write a research paper is determining how and in what ways to narrow down your topic . Even if your professor gives you a specific topic to study, it will almost never be so specific that you won’t have to narrow it down at least to some degree [besides, it is very boring to grade fifty papers that are all about the exact same thing!].

A topic is too broad to be manageable when a review of the literature reveals too many different, and oftentimes conflicting or only remotely related, ideas about how to investigate the research problem. Although you will want to start the writing process by considering a variety of different approaches to studying the research problem, you will need to narrow the focus of your investigation at some point early in the writing process. This way, you don't attempt to do too much in one paper.

Here are some strategies to help narrow the thematic focus of your paper :

  • Aspect -- choose one lens through which to view the research problem, or look at just one facet of it [e.g., rather than studying the role of food in South Asian religious rituals, study the role of food in Hindu marriage ceremonies, or, the role of one particular type of food among several religions].
  • Components -- determine if your initial variable or unit of analysis can be broken into smaller parts, which can then be analyzed more precisely [e.g., a study of tobacco use among adolescents can focus on just chewing tobacco rather than all forms of usage or, rather than adolescents in general, focus on female adolescents in a certain age range who choose to use tobacco].
  • Methodology -- the way in which you gather information can reduce the domain of interpretive analysis needed to address the research problem [e.g., a single case study can be designed to generate data that does not require as extensive an explanation as using multiple cases].
  • Place -- generally, the smaller the geographic unit of analysis, the more narrow the focus [e.g., rather than study trade relations issues in West Africa, study trade relations between Niger and Cameroon as a case study that helps to explain economic problems in the region].
  • Relationship -- ask yourself how do two or more different perspectives or variables relate to one another. Designing a study around the relationships between specific variables can help constrict the scope of analysis [e.g., cause/effect, compare/contrast, contemporary/historical, group/individual, child/adult, opinion/reason, problem/solution].
  • Time -- the shorter the time period of the study, the more narrow the focus [e.g., restricting the study of trade relations between Niger and Cameroon to only the period of 2010 - 2020].
  • Type -- focus your topic in terms of a specific type or class of people, places, or phenomena [e.g., a study of developing safer traffic patterns near schools can focus on SUVs, or just student drivers, or just the timing of traffic signals in the area].
  • Combination -- use two or more of the above strategies to focus your topic more narrowly.

NOTE: Apply one of the above strategies first in designing your study to determine if that gives you a manageable research problem to investigate. You will know if the problem is manageable by reviewing the literature on your more narrowed problem and assessing whether prior research is sufficient to move forward in your study [i.e., not too much, not too little]. Be careful, however, because combining multiple strategies risks creating the opposite problem--your problem becomes too narrowly defined and you can't locate enough research or data to support your study.

Booth, Wayne C. The Craft of Research . Fourth edition. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2016; Coming Up With Your Topic. Institute for Writing Rhetoric. Dartmouth College; Narrowing a Topic. Writing Center. University of Kansas; Narrowing Topics. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Strategies for Narrowing a Topic. University Libraries. Information Skills Modules. Virginia Tech University; The Process of Writing a Research Paper. Department of History. Trent University; Ways to Narrow Down a Topic. Contributing Authors. Utah State OpenCourseWare.

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Choosing and Refining Topics

When we are given a choice of topics to write on, or are asked to come up with our own topic ideas, we must always make choices that appeal to our own interests, curiosity, and current knowledge. If you decide to write an essay on same sex marriage, for instance, it is obvious that you should make that decision because you are interested in the issue, know something about it already, and/or would like to know more about it. However, because we rarely write solely for our own satisfaction, we must consider matters other than our own interests as we choose topics.

A Definition of a Topic

A topic is the main organizing principle of a discussion, either verbal or written. Topics offer us an occasion for speaking or writing and a focus which governs what we say. They are the subject matter of our conversations, and the avenues by which we arrive at other subjects of conversations. Consider, for instance, a recent class discussion. Although your instructor determined what topic you discussed initially, some students probably asked questions that led to other topics. As the subjects of our discussions lead to related subjects, so do the topics we write about lead to related topics in our academic studies. However, unlike the verbal conversations we have, each individual piece of writing we produce usually focuses on a single topic. Most effective writers learn that when they present a well-defined, focused, and developed topic, they do a better job of holding their readers' attention and presenting appropriate information than if they had not attempted to place boundaries on the subject of their writing.

Arriving at Topics for Writing Assignments

In academic writing, topics are sometimes dictated by the task at hand. Consider, for example, that you must conduct a lab experiment before you can sit down to write a report. Or perhaps you have to run a statistical program to get your data. In these situations, your topic is determined for you: You will write about the results of the work you have completed. Likewise, your instructor may simply hand you a topic to explore or to research. In these situations, you are delivered from both the responsibility and the rewards of choosing your own topic, and your task is to try to develop an interest in what you have been given to write about.

More often, however, you will have a bit more leeway in choosing topics of your own. Sometimes you will be asked to find a topic of interest to you that is grounded in ideas developed in shared class readings and discussions. Other times, your assignment will be anchored even less, and you will be responsible for finding a topic all on your own. Many students find that the more freedom they are given to pursue their own interests, the more intimidated they are by this freedom, and the less certain they are of what really is interesting to them. But writing assignments with open topic options can be excellent opportunities either to explore and research issues that are already concerns for you (and which may even have been topics of earlier writing) or to examine new interests. A well chosen writing topic can lead to the types of research questions that fuel your academic interests for years to come. At the very least, though, topics can be seen as occasions for making your writing relevant and meaningful to your own personal and academic concerns.

How Purpose and Audience Affect the Choice of Topics

Before choosing and narrowing a topic to write about, consider why you are writing and who will read what you write. Your writing purpose and audience often dictate the types of topics that are available to you.

In the workplace, purpose and audience are often defined for you. For instance, you might have to write a memo to a co-worker explaining why a decision was made or compose a letter to a client arguing why the company cannot replace a product. In either case, your purpose and audience are obvious, and your topic is equally evident. As a student, you may have to work a little harder to determine which topics are appropriate for particular purposes and audiences.

Oftentimes, the wording of your assignment sheet will offer clues as to the reasons why you are writing and the audience you are expected to address. Sometimes, when assignment sheets are unclear or when you misunderstand what is expected of you, you will need either to ask your instructor about purpose and audience or to make your own educated guess. However you arrive at the purpose and the audience of your writing, it is important to take these elements into consideration, since they help you to choose and narrow your topic appropriately.

Interpreting the Assignment

Steve Reid, English Professor It's important to circle an assignment's key words and then ask the instructor to clarify what these words mean. Every teacher has a different vocabulary. My students always ask me what I'm looking for when I give an assignment. As a writer, you need to know what the words mean in your field and what they mean to your instructor.

Many times, an assignment sheet or verbal assignment given by an instructor will reveal exactly what you are being asked to do. The first step in reviewing an assignment sheet is to circle key words or verbs, such as "explain," "describe," or "evaluate." Then, once you've identified these words, make sure you understand what your instructor means by them. For example, suppose your instructor asks you to describe the events leading up to World War II. This could mean explain how the events prior to World War II helped bring about the beginning of the war, or list every possible cause you think led to the war, or describe and analyze the events. Inquiring before you start writing can help you determine your writing purpose and the expectations of your intended audience (usually your instructor).

How Purpose Affects Topics

Your purpose helps you to narrow a topic, since it demands particular approaches to a general subject. For example, if you're writing about how state policy affects foreign language study in grades K-12 in Oregon, you could have several different purposes. You may need to explain how the Oregon law came about; that is, what influenced it and who was responsible. Or perhaps you would need to explain the law's effects, how curriculum will be altered, etc. Another purpose might be to evaluate the law and to propose changes. Whatever purpose you decide to adopt will determine the questions which give direction to your topic, and (in the case of a research paper) will suggest the type of information you will need to gather in order to address those questions.

How Audience Affects Topics

Steve Reid, English Professor You have to be careful so your topic is not too narrow for your audience. You don't want readers to say, " Well, so what? I couldn't care less." One the most important roles a topic plays is impacting an audience. If your topic gets too narrow and too focused, it can become too academic or too pedantic. For example, every year at graduation, I watch people laugh when they hear the title of a thesis or dissertation. The students who wrote these documents were very narrowed and focused, but their audiences were very restricted.

Having a clear idea of the audience to whom you are writing will help you to determine an appropriate topic and how to present it. For example, if you're writing about how state policy affects foreign language study in grades K-12 in Oregon, you could have many different audiences. You could be writing for teachers, administrators at a specific school, students whose educational program will be affected by the law, or even the PTA. All of these audiences care about the topic since they are all affected by it. However, for each of them you may need to provide different information and address slightly different questions about this topic. Teachers would want to know why the policy was created and how it will affect what goes on in their classrooms. Parents will want to know what languages their children will be taught and why. Administrators will want to know how this will change the curriculum and what work will be required of them as a result. Knowing your audience requires you to adapt and limit your topic so that you are presenting information appropriate to a specific group of interested readers.

Choosing Workable Topics

Most writers in the workplace don't have to think about what's workable and what's not when they write. Writing topics make themselves obvious, being the necessary outcome of particular processes. For example, meetings inspire memos and minutes; research produces reports; interactions with customers result in letters. As a student writer, your task is often more difficult than this, since topics do not always "find you" this easily.

Finding and selecting topics are oftentimes arduous tasks for the writer. Sometimes you will find yourself facing the "blank page" or "empty screen" dilemma, lacking topic ideas entirely. Other times you will have difficulties making your ideas fit a particular assignment you have been given. This section on "Choosing a Workable Topic" addresses both of these problems, offering both general strategies for generating topic ideas and strategies for finding topics appropriate to particular types of writing assignments that students frequently encounter.

How to Find a Topic

Don Zimmerman, Journalism and Technical Communication Professor I look at topics from a problem solving perspective and scientific method. Topics emerge from writers working on the job when they're in the profession, following major trends, developments, issues, etc. From the scientific perspective, topics emerge based on solid literature reviews and developing an understanding of the paradigm. From these then come the specific problems/topics/subjects that professionals or scientists address. Writers generate topics from their professional expertise, their understanding of the issues in their respective disciplines, and their understanding the science that has gone before them.

While your first impulse may be to dash off to the library to dig through books and journals once you've received an assignment, you might also consider other information sources available to you.

Related Information: Making Use of Computer Sources

One valuable source of topic ideas is an Internet search. Many sites can provide you with current perspectives on a subject and can lead you to other relevant sites. You can also find and join newsgroups where your general subject or topic is discussed daily. This will allow you to ask questions of experts, as well as to read what issues are important.

Related Information: Making Use of Library Sources

It is always helpful, particularly in the case of writing assignments which demand research, to visit the library and talk to a reference librarian when generating topic ideas. This way, you not only get to discuss your topic ideas with another expert, but you will also have more resources pointed out to you. There is usually a wealth of journals, reference books, and online resources related to your topic area(s) that you may not even know exist.

Related Information: Talking to Others Around You

The people around you are often some of the best sources of information available to you. It is always valuable to talk informally about your assignment and any topic ideas you have with classmates, friends, family, tutors, professionals in the field, or any other interested and/or knowledgeable people. Remember, too, that a topic is not a surprise gift that must be kept from your instructor until you hand in your paper. Instructors are almost always happy to discuss potential topics with a student once he or she has an idea or two, and getting response to your work early in the writing process whenever possible is a good plan. Discussing your topic ideas in these ways may lead you to other ideas, and eventually to a well-defined topic.

Subjects and Topics

Most topic searches start with a subject. For example, you're interested in writing about languages, and even more specifically, foreign languages. This is a general subject. Within a general subject, you'll find millions of topics. Not only about every foreign language ever spoken, but also about hundreds of issues affecting foreign languages. But keep in mind that a subject search is always a good place to start.

Every time you use Yahoo or other Internet search engines, or even SAGE at the CSU library, you conduct a subject search. These search devices allow you to review many topics within a broad subject area. While it's beneficial to conduct subject searches, because you never know what valuable information you'll uncover, a subject always needs to be narrowed to a specific topic. This way, you can avoid writing a lengthy book and focus instead on the short research paper you've been assigned.

Starting With What You Know

Kate Kiefer, English Professor Most often the occasion dictates the topic for the writing done outside academe. But as a writer in school, you do sometimes have to generate topics. If you need help determining a topic, create an authority list of things you have some expertise in or a general list of areas you know something about and are interested in. Then, you can make this list more specific by considering how much you know and care about these ideas and what the target audience is probably interested in reading about.

In looking for writing topics, the logical first step is to consider issues or subjects which have concerned you in the past, either on the basis of life experience or prior writing/research. If you are a journal writer, look to your journal for ideas. If not, think about writing you have done for other writing assignments or for other classes. Though it is obviously not acceptable to recycle old essays you have written before, it is more than acceptable (even advisable) to return to and to extend topics you have written about in the past. Returning to the issues that concern you perennially is ultimately what good scholarship is all about.

Related Information: Choosing Topics You Want to Know More About

Even though your personal experience and prior knowledge are good places to start when looking for writing topics, it is important not to rule out those topics about which you know very little, and would like to know more. A writing assignment can be an excellent opportunity to explore a topic you have been wanting to know more about, even if you don't have a strong base knowledge to begin with. This type of topic would, of course, require more research and investigation initially, but it would also have the benefit of being compelling to you by virtue of its "newness."

Related Information: How to Pull Topics from Your Personal Experience

It is a good idea to think about how elements of your own life experience and environment could serve as topics for writing, even if you have never thought of them in that way. Think about the topics of recent conversations you have had, events in your life that are significant to you, problems in your workplace, family issues, matters having to do with college or campus life, or current events that evoke response from you. Taking a close look at the issues in your immediate environment is a good place to start in writing, even if those issues seem to you at first to be unworthy of your writing focus. Not all writing assignments have a personal dimension, but our interests and concerns are always, at their roots, personal.

General Strategies for Coming Up With Topics

Before attempting to choose or narrow a topic, you need to have some ideas to choose from. This can be a problem if you are suffering from the "blank page or screen" syndrome, and have not even any initial, general ideas for writing topics.


As writers, some of our best ideas occur to us when we are thinking in a very informal, uninhibited way. Though we often think of brainstorming as a way for groups to come up with ideas, it is a strategy that individual writers can make use of as well. Simply put, brainstorming is the process of listing rough thoughts (in any form they occur to you: words, phrases, or complete sentences) that are connected (even remotely) to the writing assignment you have before you or the subject area you already have in mind. Brainstorming works best when you give yourself a set amount of time (perhaps five or ten minutes), writing down anything that comes to mind within that period of time, and resisting the temptation to criticize or polish your own ideas as they hit the page. There is time for examination and polishing when the five or ten minutes are over.


Freewriting is a technique much like brainstorming, only the ideas generated are written down in paragraph rather than list form. When you freewrite, you allow yourself a set amount of time (perhaps five or ten minutes), and you write down any and every idea that comes to mind as if you are writing a timed essay. However, your freewrite is unlikely to read like an organized essay. In fact, it shouldn't read that way. What is most important about freewriting is that you write continuously, not stopping to check your spelling, to find the right word, or even to think about how your ideas are fitting together. If you are unable to think of something to write, simply jot out, "I can't think of anything to write now," and go on. At the end of your five or ten minutes, reread what you have written, ignore everything that seems unimportant or ridiculous, and give attention to whatever ideas you think are worth pursuing. If you are able to avoid checking yourself while you are writing for that short time, you will probably be surprised at the number of ideas that you already have.

Clustering is a way of visually "mapping" your ideas on paper. It is a technique which works well for people who are able to best understand relationships between ideas by seeing the way they play themselves out spatially. (If you prefer reading maps to reading written directions, clustering may be the strategy for you.) Unlike formal outlining, which tends to be very linear, clustering allows you to explore the way ideas sprawl in different directions. When one thought leads to another, you can place that idea on the "map" in its appropriate place. And if you want to change its position later, and connect it with another idea, you can do so. (It is always a good idea to use a pencil rather than a pen for clustering, for this very reason.)

This is a good strategy not only for generating ideas, but also for determining how much you have to say about a topic (or topics), and how related or scattered your ideas are.

Related Information: Example of Brainstorming

Ideas on a Current Issue:

  • multiculturalism
  • training of teachers
  • teaching strategies
  • cultural difference in the classroom
  • teaching multicultural texts
  • language issues
  • English only
  • assimilation, checking cultural identity at the door
  • home language/dialect as intentionally different from school language
  • How many languages can we teach? (How multi-lingual must teachers be?)
  • Is standard English really "standard"?
  • success in school
  • statistics on students who speak "non-English" languages or established dialects
  • the difference between a dialect and a language
  • Ebonics v. bi-lingual education

Related Information: Example of Freewriting

Problem: Development of Small Towns in the Rocky Mountain Region

When I grew up in Anyoldtown, New Mexico, it was a small town in the smallest sense: no movie theaters, no supermarkets, nothing. We had to go into town for the things we needed. Land sold for $2000 an acre. Now it sells for about $50,000 an acre. Anyoldtown was also primarily hispanic, and the families who lived there had very little. Now the people who live there are mostly white and almost exclusively professionals: doctors, lawyers, stockbrokers, and an endless number of people who have money that seems to have come from nowhere. There are good things to be had there now: good restaurants, good coffee, and all the other things that come along with Yuppie invasion. But those things were had at quite a cost. People who used to live in Anyoldtown when I was a kid can no longer afford to pay property taxes. I can't think of anything else to write now. Oh, yes...these people made a killing off the sale of their land and properties, but they had to give up the places they had lived all their lives. However, by the time they sold, Anyoldtown was no longer the place where they had lived all their lives anyway.

Strategies for Finding Topics Appropriate to Particular Types of Assignments

Sometimes your ways of generating topics will depend on the type of writing assignment you have been given. Here are some ideas of strategies you can use in finding topics for some of the more common types of writing assignments:

Essays Based on Personal Experience

Essays responding to or interpreting texts.

  • Essays in Which You Take a Position on an Issue (Argument)

Essays Requiring Research

Essays in which you evaluate, essays in which you propose solutions to problems.

The great challenge of using personal experience in essays is trying to remember the kinds of significant events, places, people, or objects that would prove to be interesting and appropriate topics for writing. Brainstorming, freewriting, or clustering ideas in particular ways can give you a starting point.

Here are a few ways that you might trigger your memory:

Interview people you've known for a long time.Family members, friends, and other significant people in your life can remember important details and events that you haven't thought about for years.

Try to remember events from a particular time in your life. Old yearbooks, journals, and newspapers and magazines can help to trigger some of these memories.

Think about times of particular fulfillment or adversity. These "extremes" in your experience are often easily recalled and productively discussed. When have you had to make difficult choices, for instance? When have you undergone ethical struggles? When have you felt most successful?

Think about the groups you have encountered at various times in your life. When have you felt most like you belonged to or were excluded from groups of people: your family, cliques in school, clubs, "tracked" groups in elementary school, religious groups, or any other community/organization you have had contact with?

Think about the people or events that "changed your life." What are the forces that have most significantly influenced and shaped you? What are the circumstances surrounding academic, career, or relationship choices that you have made? What changes have you dealt with that have been most painful or most satisfying?

Try to remember any "firsts" in your experience.What was your first day of high school like? What was it like to travel far from home for the first time? What was your first hobby or interest as a child? What was the first book you checked out of the library? These "firsts," when you are able to remember them, can prove to have tremendous significance.

One word of caution on writing about personal experience: Keep in mind that any essay you write for a class will most likely be read by others, and will probably be evaluated on criteria other than your topic's importance to you. Never feel like you need to "confess," dredge up painful memories, or tell stories that are uncomfortable to you in academic writing. Save these topics for your own personal journal unless you are certain that you are able to distance yourself from them enough to handle the response that comes from instructors (and sometimes from peers).

Students are often asked to respond to or interpret essays, articles, books, stories, poems, and a variety of other texts. Sometimes your instructor will ask you to respond to one particular reading, other times you will have a choice of class readings, and still other times you will need to choose a reading on your own.

If you are given a choice of texts to respond to or to interpret, it is a good idea to choose one which is complex enough to hold your interest in the process of careful examination. It is not necessarily a problem if you do not completely understand a text on first reading it. What matters is that it challenges, intrigues, and/or evokes response from you in some way.

Related Information: Writing in the Margins of Texts

Many of us were told at some point in our schooling never to write in books. This makes sense in the case of books which don't belong to us (like library books or the dusty, tattered, thirty year-old copies of Hamlet distributed to us in high school). But in the case of books and photocopies which we have made our own, writing in the margins can be one of the most productive ways to begin the writing process.

As you read, it is a good idea to make a habit of annotating , or writing notes in the margins. Your notes could indicate places in the text which remind you of experiences you have had or of other texts you have read. They could point out questions that you have, points of agreement or disagreement, or moments of complete confusion. Annotations begin a dialogue between you and the text you have before you, documenting your first (and later) responses, and they are valuable when you attempt at a later time to write about that text in a particular way.

Essays in Which You Take a Position on an Issue

One of the most common writing assignments given is some variation on the Arguing Essay, in which students are asked to take a position on a controversial issue. There are two challenges involved in finding topics for argument. One challenge is identifying a topic that you are truly interested in and concerned about, enough so that whatever research is required will be engrossing (or at the very least, tolerable), and not a tedious, painful ordeal. In other words, you want to try to avoid arriving at the "So what?" point with your own topic. The other challenge is in making sure that your audience doesn't respond, "So what?" in reading your approach to your topic. You can avoid this by making sure that the questions you are asking and addressing are current and interesting.

Related Information: Examining Social Phenomena and Trends

In The St. Martin's Guide to Writing , Third Edition, Rise B. Axelrod and Charles R. Cooper discuss the importance of looking toward social phenomena and trends for sources of argument topics. A phenomenon , they explain, is "something notable about the human condition or the social order" (314). A few of the examples of phenomena that they list are difficulties with parking on college campuses, negative campaigning in politics, popular artistic or musical styles, and company loyalty. A trend , on the other hand, is "a significant change extending over many months or years" (314). Some trends they list are the decline of Communism, diminishing concern over world hunger, increased practice of home schooling, and increased legitimacy of pop art. Trying to think in terms of incidental, current social phenomena or long-term, gradual social trends is a good way of arriving at workable topics for essays requiring you to take a position.

Related Information: Making Sure Your Approach to Your Topic is Current and Interesting

In choosing a topic for an arguing essay, it is important to get a handle not only on what is currently being debated, but how it is being debated. In other words, it is necessary to learn what questions are currently being asked about certain topics and why. In order to avoid the "so what" dilemma, you want to approach your topic in a way that is not simplistic, tired, outdated, or redundant. For example, if you are looking at the relationship of children to television, you probably would want to avoid a topic like "the effects of t.v. violence on children" (which has been beaten to death over the years) in favor of a topic like "different toy marketing strategies for young male v.s. female viewers of Saturday morning cartoons" (a topic that seems at least a bit more original).

As a student writer, you are usually not asked to break absolutely new ground on a topic during your college career. However, you are expected to try to find ground that is less rather than more trampled when finding and approaching writing topics.

Trying to think in terms of incidental, current social phenomena or long-term, gradual social trends is a good way of arriving at workable topics for essays requiring you to take a position.

Related Information: Sources of Topics

Looking to Your Own Writing

When trying to rediscover the issues which have concerned you in the past, go back to journal entries (if you are a journal writer) or essays that you have written before. As you look through this formal and informal writing, consider whether or not these issues still concern you, and what (specifically) you now have to say about them. Are these matters which would concern readers other than yourself, or are they too specific to your own life to be interesting and controversial to a reading audience? Is there a way to give a "larger" significance to matters of personal concern? For example, if you wrote in your journal that you were unhappy with a particular professor's outdated teaching methods, could you turn that idea into a discussion of the downfalls of the tenure system? If you were frustrated with the way that your anthropology instructor dismissed your comment about the ways that "primitive" women are discussed, could you think of that problem in terms of larger gender issues? Sometimes your frustrations and mental conflicts are simply your own gripes, but more often than not they can be linked with current and widely debated issues.

Looking to Your Other Classes

When given an assignment which asks you to work with a controversial issue, always try to brainstorm points of controversy that you recall from current or past courses. What are people arguing about in the various disciplines? Sometimes these issues will seem irrelevant because they appear only to belong to those other disciplines, but there are oftentimes connections that can be made. For example, perhaps you have been asked in a communications class to write an essay on a language issue. You might remember that in a computer class on information systems, your class debated whether or not Internet news groups are really diverse or not. You might begin to think about the reasons why news groups are (or aren't) diverse, thinking about the way that language is used.

Reading Newspapers and Magazines

If you are not already an avid newspaper and magazine reader, become one for a week. Pore over the different sections: news, editorials, sports, and even cartoons. Look for items that connect with your own life experiences, and pay attention to those which evoke some strong response from you for one reason or another. Even if an issue that you discover in a newspaper or magazine doesn't prove to be a workable topic, it might lead you to other topic ideas.

Interviewing the People Around You

If you are at a loss to find an issue that lights a fire under you, determine what fires up your friends, family members, and classmates. Think back to heated conversations you have had at the dinner table, or conduct interviews in which you ask the people around you what issues impact their lives most directly. Because you share many experiences and contexts with these people, it is likely that at least some of the issues that concern them will also concern you.

Using the Internet

It is useful to browse the Internet for current, controversial issues. Spend some time surfing aimlessly, or wander through news groups to see what is being discussed. Using the Internet can be one of the best ways to determine what is immediately and significantly controversial.

Although some essays that students are asked to write are to be based solely on their own thoughts and experience, oftentimes (particularly in upper level courses) writing assignments require research. When scoping out possible research topics, it is important to remember to choose a topic which will sustain your interest throughout the research and writing process. The best research topics are those which are complex enough that they offer opportunities for various research questions. You want to avoid choosing a topic that could bore you easily, or that is easily researched but not very interesting to you.

As always, it is good to start searching for a topic within your personal interests and previous writing. You might want to choose a research topic that you have pursued before and do additional research, or you might want to select a topic about which you would like to know more. More than anything, writers must remember that research will often carry them in different directions than they intend to go, and that they must be flexible enough to acknowledge that their research questions and topics must sometimes be adjusted or abandoned. To read more on narrowing and adjusting a research topic, see the section in this guide on Research Considerations.

Related Information: Flexibility in Research

As you conduct your research, it is important to keep in mind that the questions you are asking about your topic (and oftentimes, the topic itself) will probably change slightly. Sometimes you are forced to acknowledge that there is too much or too little information available on the topic you have chosen. Other times, you might decide that the approach you were originally taking is not as interesting to you as others you have found. For instance, you might start with a topic like "foreign language studies in grades K-12 in Oregon," and in the process of your reading you might find that you are really more interested in "bilingual education in rural Texas." Still other times, you might find that the claim you were attempting to make about your topic is not arguable, or is just wrong.

Our research can carry us in directions that we don't always foresee, and part of being a good researcher is maintaining the flexibility necessary to explore those directions when they present themselves.

Related Information: How Research Narrows Topics

By necessity, most topics narrow themselves as you read more and more about them. Oftentimes writers come up with topics that they think will be sufficiently narrow and engaging--a topic like "multiculturalism and education," for instance--and discover through their initial reading that there are many different avenues they could take in examining the various aspects of this broad issue. Although such discoveries are often humbling and sometimes intimidating, they are also a necessary part of any effective research process. You can take some comfort in knowing that you do not always need to have your topic narrowed to its final form before you begin researching. The sources you read will help you to do the necessary narrowing and definition of your focus.

Related Information: Research Topics and Writing Assignments

When you are choosing a research topic, it is important to be realistic about the time and space limitations that your assignment dictates. If you are writing a graduate thesis or dissertation, for instance, you might be able to research a topic as vast and as time-honored as "the portrayal of women in the poetry of William Blake." But if your assignment asks you to produce a five-page essay by next Tuesday, you might want to focus on something a bit more accessible, like "the portrayal of women in Blake's `The Visions of the Daughters of Albion.'"

Related Information: Testing Research Topics

Early in your research and writing process, after you have found a somewhat narrow avenue into your topic, put the topic to the test to see if you really want to pursue it further in research. Rise B. Axelrod and Charles R. Cooper, in The St. Martin's Guide to Writing , Third Edition, suggest some questions writers might ask themselves when deciding whether or not a research topic is workable:

  • Does this topic really interest me?
  • Do I know enough about it now to plan and write my essay, or can I learn what I need to know in the time I have remaining?
  • Is the topic manageable within my time and space limits?
  • Do I have a good sense of how others view this issue and what readers I might address in my essay?
  • Have I begun to understand the issue and to formulate my own view?

Students are often asked to write essays in which they evaluate something: a product, a piece of writing, a restaurant, an advertising campaign, or some other entity related to their areas of study. Sometimes when you are given this type of writing assignment, you are also given a very specific topic on which to write. Other times, you are asked to find a topic for evaluation on your own.

Related Information: Comparing and Contrasting

After brainstorming a list of possible topics for evaluation, you may find it difficult to determine whether or not you will be able to effectively evaluate those topics. One way of stimulating your mind's evaluative tendencies is to try comparison and contrast. For example, if you are thinking about evaluating a local Thai restaurant, and you are having trouble coming up with points on which to evaluate it, try comparing and contrasting it with another local Thai restaurant. When we begin to compare two items, ideas, places, or people, we invariably wind up evaluating.

Related Information: Generating an Authority List

If the choice of topics to evaluate is open to you, try brainstorming a list of skills, activities, places, or subjects that you consider yourself to be an authority about. A list like this is a good starting point for just about any essay, but it is particularly useful in evaluation. If you are an avid rock climber, for instance, it makes perfect sense for you to evaluate climbing equipment, since your experience will provide you with a basis for evaluation. It may still be necessary to do research, but you will have a head start even before you begin researching.

Related Information: Questions to Ask Yourself as You Evaluate

In testing possible topics for evaluation, you might ask yourself some very general questions about your initial thoughts. Rise B. Axelrod and Charles R. Cooper, in their St. Martin's Guide to Writing , Third Edition, suggest a few such questions:

  • How certain am I of my judgment? Do I have any doubts? Why do I feel the way I do?
  • Do I like (or dislike) everything about my subject, or only certain parts?
  • Are there any similar things I should consider (other products or movies, for example)?
  • Is there anything I will need to do right away in order to research this subject authoritatively?
  • If I need to do any research, can I get the information I need?

As a writer, you will sometimes be asked to speculate on possible solutions to known problems. Although the process of problem solving is itself quite difficult, one of the greatest challenges about that process is the matter of finding a topic that lends itself to your purpose.

Related Information: Evaluating and Problem Solving

Problem solving is an extension of the evaluating process. If in the past you have written evaluative essays which identify certain problems, these essays might offer you some topic ideas and starting points. You might also look to personal writing you have done (like journal entries) or recent conversations you have had as ways of recalling the types of problems that you have identified in your general environment.

Related Information: Focusing on Solvable Problems

Obviously, not all problems are appropriate topics for short problem solving essays. For example, if your instructor assigns a ten-page problem solving essay dealing with a current problem of your choice, you might want to avoid a topic as vast as "racism." However, if you were to focus on a more context-specific version of this hulking problem, you might find a workable topic (say, for instance, minority enrollment on your campus). For assignments like these, it is important to choose problems that appear solvable (or at least approachable) in the time and space you have available to you.

Related Information: Identifying Problems Within Communities

One excellent source of topics for problem solving essays is your immediate environment. Think about the groups or communities to which you belong: your neighborhood, college, family, ethnic and cultural groups, religious and political groups, workplace, and recreational groups. Try to brainstorm a list of problems that you can readily identify in any of these communities, then consider both how solvable these problems are and how appropriate they are to your writing assignment.

Generating More Than One Topic Idea

In order to choose a topic, you need to have several available to choose from. It is best to avoid being committed to one topic at this first stage of the writing process, since not every topic will pan out. Writers are usually more successful when they have a selection of topics which they can put to the test to determine whether or not they are workable (given the writing assignment).

Narrowing Topics

The scope of a topic depends on how much time and space you have to write and how much detail you are trying to use. For example, describing all the causes of World War II in three pages is impossible. You would have to either narrow your topic some more or write hundreds of pages to adequately discuss every cause. Defining your topic before you start writing will save you time and help you to research and/or to develop your thinking in a clear, methodical way. It is important to examine the topics we choose to determine whether they are too broad (or, in some instances, too narrow) for the writing assignments we are given. Once you have decided that a topic is too broad to be appropriate to your assignment (which is most often the case), you will need to have ways to narrow it. You will also want to consider, when writing essays that require research, how your research resources and limitations affect your choice of topics.

Deciding When a Topic is Too Broad

Kate Kiefer, English Professor If a writer doesn't present details quickly enough, then the topic is usually too broad. If the reader can expect the paper to go in one direction, but it goes in another, the topic is usually too broad or not stated precisely enough. If I can ask six million questions about whether the writer will include this or that point, the topic is too broad. If I do a library search and turn up 200 listings (or an Internet search and discover 1,000 hits), the topic is too broad.

A topic is too broad to be workable when you find that you have too many different (but oftentimes remotely related) ideas about that topic. While you want to start the writing process with as many ideas as possible, you will want to narrow your focus at some point so that you aren't attempting to do too much in one essay.

Where essays requiring research are concerned, your topic is too broad if you are able to find thousands of sources when conducting a simple library or Internet search. For example, conducting a search on "foreign languages in Oregon" will provide you with policies, foreign language departments, and cultural issues (just to name a few). When this happens, you can try various narrowing strategies to determine what most interests you about your topic area and what relates to your own life most readily. For instance, if you plan to study abroad, focusing on the language you'll be speaking might be a way to narrow the scope of your original topic, "foreign languages in Oregon."

Deciding When a Topic Is Too Narrow

Steve Reid, English Professor You have to careful so your topic is not too narrow for your audience. You don't want readers to say, " Well, so what? I couldn't care less." One the most important roles a topic plays is impacting an audience. If you get so narrowed and focused, a topic can become too academic or pedantic. For example, every year at graduation I watch people laugh when they hear the title of a thesis or dissertation. The students who wrote these documents were very narrowed and focused, but their audiences were very restricted.

Though student writers most often face the challenge of limiting a topic that is too broad, they occasionally have to recognize that they have chosen a topic that is too narrow or that they have narrowed a workable topic too much. A topic is too narrow if you can't find any information about it. For example, suppose your foreign language subject to, "foreign language policy in South Dakota." Although you might have a strong interest in this topic, South Dakota may not have a specific policy about foreign languages. If you have chosen the topic, "teaching Chinese in elementary schools," and your research attempts have been fruitless, it may be that you are considering a topic that no one else has previously presented. In other words, no one has determined that Chinese should be a major language taught as commonly as Spanish or French. If this happens to be the case, keep your topic in mind, because it could very well be an excellent topic for a graduate thesis or dissertation. However, it is also likely to be a difficult topic to handle in a ten-page essay for an education class, due in two weeks.

If your topic is too narrow, try making it broader by asking yourself related questions.

  • What foreign languages are taught in South Dakota schools?
  • Or where is Chinese taught and why?

Once you've found a different direction in which to move with your topic, you can try narrowing it again.

General Strategies for Narrowing Topics

One of the first things writers do when they realize that they need to narrow the scope of their topic is to ask themselves the "w" questions so familiar to journalists: Who? What? Where? When? and Why? (and oftentimes, How?) These questions can help you locate your specific points of interest within your general topic area. For example, to narrow a topic like "foreign languages," you could begin with the "what" and "when" questions and decide you are interested in "foreign language studies in grades K-12." Asking the "where" question, you might arrive at "foreign language studies in grades K-12 in Oregon." And asking the "who" question might cause you to limit the topic again to "state policy regarding foreign language studies in grades K-12 in Oregon." Each time you add something specific to your topic, you place "restrictors" on it, thereby narrowing it. Then, when you conduct a library or Internet search, you can use these "restrictors" as key words.

Related Information: Looping

Looping is an extended version of freewriting in which you begin with an initial five-minute freewrite on a general topic, then select out of that bit of writing the sentence or idea that interests you the most. You then use that sentence or idea as the basis for your next five-minute round of freewriting. You continue this process of elaborating informally on specific ideas until you come to a point where your topic seems sufficiently narrow, researchable, and appropriate to your writing assignment.

Example of Looping If I am freewriting on the general (and overly broad) topic of "development of small towns in the Rocky Mountain region," I might start with the following initial ideas: Problem: Development of Small Towns in the Rocky Mountain Region When I grew up in Anyoldtown, New Mexico, it was a small town in the smallest sense: no movie theaters, no supermarkets, nothing. We had to go into town for the things we needed. Land sold for $2000 an acre. Now it sells for about $50,000 an acre. Anyoldtown was also primarily hispanic, and the families who lived there had very little. Now the people who live there are mostly white and almost exclusively professionals: doctors, lawyers, stockbrokers, and an endless number of people who have money that seems to have come from nowhere. There are good things to be had there now: good restaurants, good coffee, and all the other things that come along with Yuppie invasion. But those things were had at quite a cost. People who used to live in Anyoldtown when I was a kid can no longer afford to pay property taxes. I can't think of anything else to write now. Oh, yes...these people made a killing off the sale of their land and properties, but they had to give up the places they had lived all their lives. However, by the time they sold, Anyoldtown was no longer the place where they had lived all their lives anyway. Rereading what I have written, I might decide that what interests me the most and seems most appropriate to the writing assignment I have been given is my idea about the property tax dilemma. With this in mind, I would write a second "loop" on this area of my thinking, perhaps even starting my freewriting with the exact sentence I used in the first "loop:" People who used to live in Anyoldtown when I was a kid can no longer afford to pay property taxes. This is unfair, because these people spent their entire lives in this town, and land was all they had. Theoretically, the Yuppie Invasion doesn't drive out the "townies" or "natives" of a small town, but in actuality, land values and property taxes (as well as cultural influences, of course) make it impossible (and oftentimes undesirable) for people to hold onto their own land. People have to sell, because if they don't, they can no longer afford to maintain the standard of living that their town has taken on (in more ways than one). This issue obviously has class implications, but I'm sure it also relates to cultural (ethnic) issues as well. This is where I would need to begin researching, if I wanted to see who was most negatively affected by rising property taxes and land values. In rereading this second loop, I might decide that my ideas toward the end of the paragraph interest me the most. I could write another loop expanding these specific ideas on race, class, and property taxes, or I might decide that I have (as my freewrite suggests) arrived at the point where I need to begin researching.

Related Information: Questioning

Alongside the basic "5 W's" ("who," "what," "when," "where," and "why") can be used more formal, directed questions provided by the classical rhetorical "topics." These questions function in four different ways, and can be categorized as follows:

Example of Questioning If my general topic is "Development of Small Towns in the Rocky Mountain Region," I might try to narrow my focus by applying questions with specific functions to this topic area, thereby discovering which approach interests me most. Here are some of the questions I might ask:

After writing the questions, I would write my responses, deciding which particular questions and responses interest me the most. Perhaps, for instance, I would find myself most interested in the effects of development on the "natives" of small towns, particularly the inevitability of increased property taxes. This process of questioning thus provides me with a specific, narrow, well-defined focus within the vast issue of development of small towns in the Rocky Mountain region.

Related Information: Topic Cross

The topic cross helps you to narrow your topic by using a visual strategy. Just as you would focus a camera or a microscope, you arrange key words and phrases about your topic in such a way that they eventually point to your specific area of interest.

Example of a Topic Cross The first step in the process of using the topic cross is brainstorming. Spend a few minutes listing words and phrases that come to mind when you think about your topic. Then decide which words and phrases are most interesting and arrange them in a hierarchy, moving from general (at the top of the list) to specific (at the bottom of the list). This hierarchy will become the vertical axis of your cross. Demonstration: If my topic is "development of small towns in the Rocky Mountain region," I might generate the following useful ideas in brainstorming (arranged from general to specific).

  • The appeal of small towns
  • Yuppie invasion
  • Overcrowding in cities
  • Cost of land
  • Effects on town "natives."
  • Economic effects on impoverished landowners.
  • How John Doe in my home town was affected.
  • The new espresso bar in town

I would write this list in an imagined middle column of a piece of blank paper or a computer screen, leaving plenty of space between each item. Then I would scan the list to determine where my real interest lies. Which topics in this list will be too broad to write about, given my writing assignment? Which will be too narrow? In this case, I might choose "economic effects on impoverished landowners" as a workable topic area. Once I had thus identified my area of interest, I would begin listing words and phrases about or relevant to that item, placing them on the horizontal axis of my topic cross. The list I would generate about "economic effects on impoverished landowners" might look like this:

  • Increased cost of land
  • Temptation to sell
  • Rising property taxes
  • Higher cost of living
  • Zoning issues
  • Pressure to maintain property value

Examining this list, I might decide that "rising property taxes" is a sufficiently narrow topic that is not too narrow to develop with my own ideas and research I might do. By using this strategy, I have arrived at a narrow, workable topic.

Research Considerations

If your writing assignment requires research, you will probably find that the research process itself will dictate how broad or narrow your topic should be. We have all had the experience of doing a library search on a word like "environment" and coming up with thousands of sources. Almost as common is the experience of searching a term like "cultural animation" and coming up with only one source that seems useful. The topics we choose are often directly related to our research processes and their results.

Moving from Topic to Thesis

It is important to remember that a narrow topic is not the same thing as a thesis statement. Unlike a topic, a thesis makes a claim of fact, provides a claim of value, or makes a recommendation about a topic under consideration. For example, your narrowed topic might be "the underemphasis on foreign language in U.S. secondary schools." A focused thesis statement making a claim about this topic might read, "U.S. secondary schools should require elementary students to take at least one course in a foreign language sometime during the 4th through 6th grades."

Transforming a workable topic into a possible thesis is really just a continuation of the narrowing process, with an emphasis on what you want to say about your topic. In this way, it is much like the "hypothesis" stage of the scientific method. You arrive at a thesis by attempting to make a statement about the topic you have chosen.

Developing a Working Thesis

A working thesis is a tentative statement that you make about your topic early in the writing process, for the purpose of directing your thinking early. This thesis is likely to change somewhat or to be abandoned altogether as you move through the writing process, so it is best not to become too enamored of it.

There are two components of a working thesis. The first is, quite simply, your topic; and the second is your tentative statement about your topic. For example, if my narrowed topic is

"Rising property taxes in small towns in the Rocky Mountain region..."

I might add the following statement about that topic:

"...cause longtime residents and landowners in those towns not to be able to keep their property."

As I begin whatever research is necessary to support this thesis, I might find that I can't make this much of a claim. Or I might find that there are complexities that I hadn't considered. As I uncover new information about my topic, I will want to alter my working thesis accordingly, until it is workable and supportable.

Arriving at a Possible Thesis for an Essay Requiring Research

A In The St. Martin's Handbook , Third Edition [italics], Andrea Lunsford and Robert Connors suggest a process for moving from a topic to a research "hypothesis," by way of examining the "issue" at hand and framing this issue as a "research question." The following is an example of how I might move from topic to hypothesis if my narrowed topic is "rising property taxes in small towns in the Rocky Mountain region."

  • Topic: Rising property taxes in small towns in the Rocky Mountain region
  • Issue: The effects of these rising taxes on long-time residents and landowners in the small towns
  • Research Question: What are the effects of rising property taxes on long-time residents and landowners in small towns in the Rocky Mountain region?
  • Hypothesis: Because these taxes are increasingly difficult to pay, small town "natives" find themselves unable to hold onto their property.

This hypothesis, like a working thesis, is simply an early speculation on what I might find when I begin to research. As I read more and more about my topic, I will probably find that I need to make changes to the hypothesis in order to make it a supportable thesis. As I uncover new information about my topic, I will want to alter my working thesis accordingly, until it is workable and supportable.

Arriving at a Possible Thesis for an Essay Requiring You to Take a Position

One of the greatest challenges in written argument is determining what it is that you would like to (and are able to) say about your topic.

Narrowing from Topic to Thesis in Argument

Before you begin drafting an argument paper, you need to decide (tentatively, at least) what it is that you will be arguing about the topic you have chosen. The following prompts should help you focus your argument from a topic to a position on that topic. What is your topic? (e.g.--Rising property taxes in small towns in the Rocky Mountain region) What are three controversies associated with this topic? (e.g.--Rising property taxes make the town affordable only to the wealthy. This changes the flavor the flavor of the town. It forces long-time land owners to sell their land.) What are three questions people might ask about these controversies? (e.g.--Are these rising property taxes, which are the results of development in small towns in the Rocky Mountain region, forcing long-time land owners out of their home towns? Are rising taxes and land values changing the whole cultural and economic foundation of the towns? Given the effects of rising property taxes on impoverished land owners in small towns, is development in this area a good idea?) Decide which of these questions you are most interesting in exploring. (e.g.--Given the effects of rising property taxes on impoverished land owners in small towns, is development in this area a good idea?) Now list several ways people might respond if you asked them your question. (e.g.--No, because impoverished land owners are unable to maintain the new standard of living. Yes, because development is always a good idea. Yes, because development is inevitable, and we can do nothing about it. Perhaps, but city planners and local government must find ways to protect the interests of impoverished land owners when they determine property taxes.) Finally, decide where you stand in this range of responses. Think of a thesis that expresses your view. Write out your thesis and revise it throughout your research process until it is specific and takes a single arguable position. (e.g.--Because impoverished land owners in small towns in the Rocky Mountain region are often badly hurt by the rising property taxes resulting from development, city planners and local government must find ways to protect the interests of these land owners when they determine property taxes.)

Working With Topics in Different Disciplines

Don Zimmerman, Journalism and Technical Communication Professor Writers' understanding of topics and their fields of study allow them to focus on a specific topic. Following a good problem solving process or scientific method can help you select a topic. Whereas on the job, topics emerge from day to day activities. When working, you don't need to look for topics to write about. Your respective field/job responsibilities allow you to find the problems.

The ways that topics are approached and the types of topics that are discussed vary from discipline to discipline. It is important to investigate the types of topics that are discussed (and the ways that they are discussed) in your own discipline. As a writer, it is necessary to determine what topics are talked about and why in your own discipline (or in the discipline for which you are writing). This can be done by way of talking to professionals in the discipline, looking at relevant journals, and conducting Internet and database searches (to name a few possibilities).

Related Information: Browsing Journals Important to Your Discipline

Almost every discipline has journals that are associated with it, and scholars in the discipline depend on these journals in order to remain informed about what topics are being discussed. For example, scholars in the field of psychology rely on psychological journals; doctors rely on medical journals; and English professors rely on literary journals. Because journals are at the center of each discipline's current discussions, it is a good idea to browse them when looking for current topics. If you are unsure of how to go about doing this, talk to a professor in your discipline, a reference librarian in your library, or a librarian in your library's Current Periodicals room. These people can usually provide you with a few titles of important journals relevant to your field. Once you have these titles, you can locate a few issues of each journal in the Current Periodicals room, sit down for an hour or two, and look through the articles to see what is being talked about and what interests you.

Related Information: Online Searches and Databases

One way of getting to the sources which will discuss topics current to your discipline is by searching the various computer databases and search engines related to that discipline. A database is simply an arrangement of information by way of similar subject matter. For example, if you were researching a topic for a Sociology essay on group behavior of Deadheads, you might go to the Social Sciences Index to find sources related to your topic. For information on how to find relevant and useful databases, talk to the reference librarian in your library, or ask an expert in your field which databases he or she uses regularly.

Related Information: Talking to Professionals in Your Discipline

One of the most efficient ways to learn what topics are currently being discussed in your discipline is to talk to the experts: instructors and other professionals working within that discipline. We often forget that these people can be valuable resources to us, and can point us toward books, journals, databases, and other sources of information that scholars in our various fields use often.

Citation Information

Lauel Nesbitt and Dawn Kowalski. (1994-2024). Choosing and Refining Topics . The WAC Clearinghouse. Colorado State University. Available at

Copyright Information

Copyright © 1994-2024 Colorado State University and/or this site's authors, developers, and contributors . Some material displayed on this site is used with permission.

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Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research

(48 reviews)

academic writing research topics

Cheryl Lowry, Ohio State University

Copyright Year: 2016

Publisher: Ohio State University Libraries

Language: English

Formats Available

Conditions of use.


Learn more about reviews.

Reviewed by Elbert Davis, Assistant Professor, Marshall University on 10/24/21

The author does an incredible job in explaining the research process, from choosing a research question to how to search for sources (and citing those sources), and more. There are relevant self-check quizzes throughout the book to check for... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 5 see less

The author does an incredible job in explaining the research process, from choosing a research question to how to search for sources (and citing those sources), and more. There are relevant self-check quizzes throughout the book to check for understanding, along with other supplemental resources. As the book was published through The Ohio State University, some of the sources are only available to OSU students, but the author makes it clear when this is the case.

Content Accuracy rating: 5

The author did an excellent job with the accuracy of the book, Two specific examples that stood out: taking care to mention that Wikipedia is a great as a starting point, but not as an endpoint for research. Lowry also clearly explained that educational use did not automatically mean fair use, which seems to be an issue with students and faculty alike.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 5

The book should remain relevant in years to come, as academic research seems to follow the same basic pattern. The only issue would be if The Ohio State University changes the links used in the book, although I expect these to be easy to update. The book would still be able to be used without the supplemental links though.

Clarity rating: 5

The book seems to be targeting an introductory audience. Lowry does a great job of breaking down the jargon of academic research into plain English for the beginning researcher.

Consistency rating: 5

I thought the author used approprate terminology for a student learning about academic research.

Modularity rating: 5

The book is designed into specific chapters for the different aspects of choosing a source. While there are specific sections devoted to The Ohio State University library, I would not expect to have any trouble assigning the other chapters in my courses.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 5

The author started at the beginning, with how to design a research question before going into choosing a source, which gave good background knowledge.

Interface rating: 5

The contents of the book were clean and crisp. No distortions were noted. Navigation from the table of contents was easy.

Grammatical Errors rating: 5

No grammatical errors were noted.

Cultural Relevance rating: 5

Nothing offensive was in the book.

I have a difficult time in getting beginning graduate student to understand the different types of sources and fair use. I think using most chapters of this book would help a great deal in that comprehension.

Reviewed by Kelly LeFave, Instructor, Portland Community College on 6/15/21

This student friendly overview of academic research, including a strong focus on information literacy, covers many of the salient points that college level writing and writing for research classes curricula contain, making it a strong choice as a... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 4 see less

This student friendly overview of academic research, including a strong focus on information literacy, covers many of the salient points that college level writing and writing for research classes curricula contain, making it a strong choice as a comprehensive and useful overview. Chapters include enough depth of coverage to make the leap from information to practice for students; self-directed activities are provided to check knowledge, work through concept applications, and offer more specifics. The book provides an easy-to-navigate Table of Contents, but an Index and Glossary do not seem to be available.

Content Accuracy rating: 4

Some errors appear that a thorough proofread would catch. Some resources may need to be updated since information practices and modes change so quickly; some references and links direct students to OSU information that would not apply to all readers.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 4

The book’s topic – academic research – necessarily demands constant updating given our fast-changing digital landscape and the shifting paradigms we are witnessing for locating and evaluating information in our times. Resources can become obsolete fairly quickly in this environment. The book’s content is largely up-to-date, though a thorough review of linked resources, perhaps annually, would be beneficial. For instance, a video on RSS mentioned a Google feature that looks to be no longer available, though finding alternatives proves simple when searched online. The book’s organization makes updating or replacing linked resources easy, so keeping the content relevant would be straightforward with regular review.

Content is presented in a style engaging for students, using the “you” pronoun address to walk readers through a thinking process that applies and links ideas to practice; this effective approach is used for many of the book’s concepts. The writing strikes a good stylistic balance between engaging the student reader and informing/challenging that same reader by modeling research brainstorming or methods. The style seems appropriate for college level readers and college level curricula. The topic of academic research does include some technical terms at times, but the book’s approach is to define and explain such terms a part of its content.

Stylistically and organizationally, the content is consistent and easy-to-follow. A user begins to anticipate knowledge check activities or “try it out” activities at particular points in each section. The knowledge check quizzes, which are simplified multiple choice questions, seem at odds with the highly contextualized concept explanations in much of the book’s prose; perhaps a different approach to knowledge check quizzing, which as an element can be helpful, would work better.

Modularity rating: 4

Headings and subheadings follow a logical organization and are easy to navigate in the book. Some sections do refer to—and link to—other book sections, but most would work as stand-alone modules. An instructor or course designer could pick and choose sections and adapt them for their own purposes. As a whole, the book remains self-referential to the context of a specific university, which limits the easy adaptation of the book, and perhaps even sections, for faculty and course designers at other educational institutions.

The book’s organization is easy to navigate and coheres with the overall focus on presenting academic research and information literacy in a way that invites students toward a practical and fuller understanding. Topic order makes sense and is organized via headings and subheadings well.

Overall, no significant navigation issues or interface distractions.

A few errors that look like typos remain in the book. Otherwise, grammatical errors are not an issue for readability.

Cultural Relevance rating: 4

A more nuanced and inclusive awareness of cultural relevance and diversity is worth considering for the book. The choice of some example topics, such as school shootings, might be distracting or traumatic for some student populations, while adding more examples that showcase interests or topics related to non-dominant cultural ideas would widen the sense of inclusivity throughout the book. Choices might be contingent on the demographics of the Ohio State University population, but more awareness of this aspect of the book might also make it more appealing as a resource for others to adapt

Reviewed by Nell McCabe, Associate Professor, Berkshire Community College on 6/15/21

This text is very-student friendly and covers all aspects of writing a student research paper, including steps that students frequently overlook such as the value of preliminary research and the different ways to incorporate different kinds of... read more

This text is very-student friendly and covers all aspects of writing a student research paper, including steps that students frequently overlook such as the value of preliminary research and the different ways to incorporate different kinds of information in a paper.

This text provides a well-balanced, research-driven approach to guiding students through the process of writing an academic research paper. Spelling mistakes, flaw grammar and usage, and factual errors are few and far between (as in I didn't find any during the course of this review).

Kinds of sources and the means of evaluating them are broad enough to be long-lasting, but the examples and other supporting details are timely and relevant.

This text uses student-friendly language and avoids jargon and other symptoms of academia run amok, while still maintaining high standards and expectations for students. Connections between the different stages of conducting research and developing an argument are well laid out and clear.

Terms associated with locating, evaluating, and incorporating a range of different kinds of sources are clear and consistent throughout the text.

The chapters do stand alone and I could image someone using bits and pieces or leaving out bits and pieces, but since the text is primarily focused on supporting the needs of a college research throughout the research process, it is hard to image much need for separating it into discrete modules. You could certainly rearrange the order of the chapters too if that worked better for your approach to teaching student research.

The flow of one chapter into the next is well-integrated and smooth. The order of the chapters

I had no issues with the interface; everything worked as expected.

Cultural Relevance rating: 3

The book does not go out of its way to make obviously inclusive examples. Increasing the cultural perspectives represented in the examples would enhance the overall value of this text.

Reviewed by Darci Adolf, Director of Library & Media Services, Oregon Coast Community College on 6/11/21

I found "Choosing and Using Sources" to be quite comprehensive and included the major areas that I cover in my LIB 101 Research skills class. In my class I like to cover each area of Eisenberg's Big6 Research model: Task definition, information... read more

I found "Choosing and Using Sources" to be quite comprehensive and included the major areas that I cover in my LIB 101 Research skills class. In my class I like to cover each area of Eisenberg's Big6 Research model: Task definition, information seeking strategies, location and access, use of information, synthesis, and evaluation. I was pleased to find the subject of synthesis covered under the writing chapter-- many research textbooks leave this out. I did not find anything that talked about Evaluation of the process and product. Also, I would've liked to have seen social justice and equity issues in information publishing and access addressed as a chapter or portion of a chapter. The textbook has a great Table of Contents, but no index.

This textbook seems to contain accurate and error-free content. I spot-checked most of the chapters and didn't find anything I didn't believe to be true, and links weren't broken. Because this book is mostly factual in nature, there aren't areas where an author's opinion was used over facts, and opinions seem to be be appropriate and unbiased. For example, the author remarks on the use of blogs in research: "Blogs – Frequently updated websites that do not necessarily require extensive technical skills and can be published by virtually anyone for no cost to themselves other than the time they devote to content creation." This is a wide-held belief among librarians.

The content appeared to be up-to-date throughout the book. The area that might change the quickest is the types of sources, Chapter 2 in the book. They did a good job including an overview of all of the major source types and should stay relevant for a good period of time. Because they've listed these source types in a single chapter, updates to the text should be fairly straight forward and easy to do without disturbing much of the rest of the book.

Clarity rating: 4

The text was clear to me, a seasoned librarian. But I think there were terms used throughout the textbook that might not be familiar to a student first starting out in library research. So I would add some clarification around some of the language if I were using this textbook for a lower-level class. For example: There are several types of specialized databases listed including: Bibliographic, Full-text, Multimedia, etc. Many first year students wouldn't know those terms, or others such as "circulation, World-cat, discharge, InterLibrary Loan" and so forth.

The text was consistent throughout in terms of terminology and the overall frame. As I mentioned previously, some of the terms might need to be defined for the first-year student, either in-text or in a separate glossary. The framework is well-done, with clear chapters and sections--it was definitely written by those who teach research at the college level.

The textbook has 13 chapters that are again sub-divided into six or more sub-topics. This makes it very easy for an instructor to pick and choose which topics to cover. The thirteen broader subjects makes it easy to use the entire textbook for a term-- or just choose the pieces you want to use. For example, I would use the "Ethical Use and Citing Sources" chapter if I were doing a one-shot in a classroom, but might choose to use most of the chapters for an online class.

The structure was easy to follow. If I were setting it up myself, I'd probably combine the chapters on Ethical Use of Sources (Ethical Use and Citing Sources, Why Cite Sources, and Challenges in Citing Sources) with the chapter on "How to Cite Sources," but it's easier to have them separate and combine them for a class than to have a big block of text that would make it difficult to work through.

The textbook online version was done in Wordpress, and was easy to view and navigate. There were several other choices for students, including a PDF that could be viewed off line. There were charts, graphs, and links throughout that added to the content, but not so much as to be distracting. Any visuals were simple and enough white space was left as to not overwhelm, with colors that were contrasting visually.

I spot-checked throughout the text in each chapter and did not find any grammatical errors.

The textbook seemed to be inclusive of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds.

Ohio State University has included a lot of links to their own pages, handouts, and resources that would need to be changed or omitted by a new user. For example, they have a handout from the OSU Writing Center, and they link to the OSU World Cat platform. These would need to be changed by the adopter.

Reviewed by Kaia Henrickson, Assistant Professor of Library & Information Science, Information Literacy Librarian, University of Alaska, Southeast on 11/4/20, updated 12/16/20

This text does a good job highlighting the steps in the research process, from formulating a strong research question, to finding and evaluating sources, to incorporating ideas from research into writing, and finally, to citing and using sources... read more

This text does a good job highlighting the steps in the research process, from formulating a strong research question, to finding and evaluating sources, to incorporating ideas from research into writing, and finally, to citing and using sources properly. Each chapter can stand on its own as useful content for a research-based course, or the entire text could be used to walk students through the entire research and writing process. Based on tutorials created for Ohio State University Libraries, some sections, like Chapter 5 on search tools as well as some of the activities, are fairly specific to OSU. Still, much of the text and many of the activities are applicable to all student researchers. This would be a great base text for someone who wanted to remix and add in information from their own university library and student service supports to replace the OSU-focused sections.

The material is accurate overall.

Text content, as well as videos and activities, are fairly current. Sections are small, so making updates should be fairly easy.

While the text is generally clear, there are sections that are a bit cumbersome or wordy. The Evaluating Sources section, especially, seems overly complicated.

References and links to other helpful sections within the text are appropriate and useful. Key concepts and ideas are repeated and built upon as the text progresses.

Each chapter is divided into manageable sections, and there are few sections which require a lot of scrolling. Those that are longer are broken up by subheadings. Embedded video content, visuals, and boxes are used to break up the text for easier reading and more visual appeal.

The text clearly progresses through the steps in the research and writing process from start to finish, but it can also be accessed by section if a particular subtopic is all that is needed. Each chapter stands on its own, as well as being integrated into the whole.

Interface rating: 3

The web version of the text has no paragraph indents or lines of space between paragraphs, which makes it a bit difficult to read, especially when there are longer blocks of text. There are many videos included that only have automatically-created closed captions (and a few with no closed captions available at all). A few of the graphics are blurry, but most visual and audiovisual content is clear and easy to read. With some of the linked activities, it is unclear what to do when you have selected an incorrect answer, and there is not much feedback for students who answer questions incorrectly.

Grammatical Errors rating: 4

There are a few typos and other minor issues here and there in the text. Some of the linked activities have more significant errors.

The text is not culturally insensitive, but it also doesn't present much in the way of diversity in examples or ideas. In addition, there is a noticeable amount content that is focused on Ohio State University resources and students, and this may not be relevant for readers from other universities.

Reviewed by Marybeth Beller, Associate Professor, Marshall University on 3/13/20

The book provides a thorough review of the research process; that said, a professor will have to add discipline-specific information and requirements, such as expected citation practices and research methods. read more

The book provides a thorough review of the research process; that said, a professor will have to add discipline-specific information and requirements, such as expected citation practices and research methods.

I found no errors in the text.

I will use this book for my undergraduate research course as it gives a very good introduction to research, from narrowing the topic to turning questions into hypotheses.

The book is very clear and provides graphs, links and videos for the reader to have additional information as needed.

Each chapter is organized similarly to the others and is written in the same easy-to-follow, technical-free language. It removes any inhibitions a reader might have.

Each chapter section has its own heading and link. The entire book could be assigned or sections of the book could be just as easily assigned. A drop-down table of contents menu allows the reader to move freely between topics.

This guide is beautifully organized for the beginning researcher but can easily be followed through the table of contents for students needed refreshers on particular elements of research.

I found no interface issues at all in navigating the book.

There were no grammatical errors in the text.

I believe the book would be welcomed by a diverse group of people. There is no insensitive language or use of poor examples in the book.

I really enjoyed the organization of the book and that the author takes the time to include links to additional information as well as videos for students who want to spend more time with a particular concept.

Reviewed by Racheal Rothrock, Assistant Professor, Miami University on 2/28/20

The text is comprehensive in its covering of topics related to choosing and using sources, though it does not go into great depth for each topic. Rather this text provides a broad overview around the topic of sources. This text seems to be written... read more

The text is comprehensive in its covering of topics related to choosing and using sources, though it does not go into great depth for each topic. Rather this text provides a broad overview around the topic of sources. This text seems to be written for an upper-level, undergraduate student audience. No glossary is provided.

This information is presented in an unbiased way that informs on the topic rather than presenting a strong bias or slant toward a particular type of source (though, there is cultural bias—see review comments in “cultural” section). The text does provide details on what approaches might be more helpful in certain situations. This provides a balance of usefulness for students trying to determine which sources to use, while also not assigning value to some sources over others or create a hierarchy.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 3

The text demonstrates a current understanding around the topic of sources, taking into account the shift away from paper and toward digital sources. While overall this text should be useful for several years, there are some areas that may require updating (e.g. links, OSU policies or statements, specifics about various citation styles, software options available, copyright laws, etc.). Throughout the text, the authors do depend on examples that are specific to OSU (e.g. a section on “WorldCat@OSU”), and this might provide less useful for non-OSU students.

The text is written with simple language and explanations are given for more technical terminology (e.g. peer-reviewed, quantitative, qualitative, etc.).

Little specialized terminology is used throughout the text, however, the language and terminology used is consistent throughout. The format, structure, and approach the authors use, is also consistent throughout the text and forms a cohesive narrative.

The text is broken up by main topics and then within each topic, subtopics are provided to support the main topic. The length of each subtopic is fairly brief and examples are provided throughout with graphical separation for clarity. While the topics and subtopics support each other, each subtopic could be assigned individually and would maintain usefulness.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 4

Overall, the organization is logical and clear. There are a few topics that might be shifted in their order, but this is not a critical need. For instance, moving the information about copyright closer to the section on ethical use of sources might make sense, but does not overly disrupt the general flow of the text.

There are no significant issues. A fixed bar at the bottom of the screen allows for navigation to pages directly preceding and proceeding the current page and a clickable contents button at the top right side of the page allows further navigation between sections. Overall, visuals do not appear to be distorted, however, many of the visuals are quite large, taking up the majority of the screen, and could be reduced in size without losing effectiveness. Additionally, on pages 9 and 11, a graphic is presented that contains text that is too small to read. While it is not necessary to read the text in the visual in order to understand the lesson of the section, because it is provided, it would be reasonable to make this large enough to be legible.

The text seems to be free of any major grammatical errors.

This text is written from an academic, western cultural perspective that is relevant to the particular topic and audience (i.e. “A guide to academic research”), but does not take into other ontological or epistemological scholarly perspectives (e.g. testimonios or oral histories as significant sources). The visuals and examples do privilege the U.S. and mainstream cultures, such as through a photo of a White woman using her Mac computer in a library, a photo of a football team, an illustration with the U.S. flag in it, an example question of “How has NASA helped America,” an example opinion of “George Clooney is the sexiest actor alive,” etc. The text is not overtly insensitive or offensive, but it also does not appear to take up or address non-dominant perspectives and cultures in any substantive way.

Reviewed by Audrey Besch, Temporary Faculty , East Tennessee State University on 10/31/19

This text is very comprehensive! From choosing sources to the final research project, this book does a wonderful job of providing all the steps. read more

This text is very comprehensive! From choosing sources to the final research project, this book does a wonderful job of providing all the steps.

Information is accurate for the purposes of writing research and using sources.

Up-to-date and relevant, this text does a good job of outlining various types of sources that can be used and the appropriate ways in which to use them.

Very easy to read content that would be great for students, especially those who are just starting the academic writing process for research.

The text remained consistent in it's use of terminology and framework.

Text has an appropriate use of subheadings and includes activity sections that focus on concepts. Material was broken into easy to grasp ways that didn't seem too lengthy.

Content is well organized and in a logical format for the content provided.

Book did not have any navigation issues and all images were appropriately used for content.

To the extent of my knowledge, there were no grammatical errors in this text.

There were no culturally insensitive issues or offensive language in this text that I could find.

Reviewed by Kris Frykman, Community Faculty, Minnesota State University System on 10/18/19

Comprehensive overview, with examples, to punctuate learning. read more

Comprehensive overview, with examples, to punctuate learning.

Clear, accurate process in showcasing academic research.

Appropriate book for researchers of all levels.

Chapter follow-up questions and videos are included to further enhance clarity.

Terminology and examples are included to further make the content accessible for the reader.

The book is divided in sections so that students can study and apply one concept at a time.

Content is clearly organized.

Charts, diagrams, examples, and videos are highlighted to exemplify key contents.

No discernable grammatical errors.

Appropriately culturally sensitive.

Reviewed by TyRee Jenks, Research Librarian & Library Instruction Coordinator, Montana State University - Billings on 7/31/19

The text is very comprehensive and covers all the necessary aspects of information literacy and student research. There is no index or glossary included, but terms are well explained within the text. The extensive coverage of topics, like types... read more

The text is very comprehensive and covers all the necessary aspects of information literacy and student research. There is no index or glossary included, but terms are well explained within the text. The extensive coverage of topics, like types of sources and copyright, was thorough while not being so in-depth as to bore students. The activities, quizzes, and short videos reinforce the concepts covered in the chapters and add interest, however some quizzes would benefit from additional explanation as to why answers are right or wrong.

The content of the text seems to be accurate. Very minor spelling errors and a copy/paste duplicate. No apparent bias.

Content is up to date and relevant for students while being broad enough to be useful for a longer period of time. Updating information would be easy. The text contains a lot of hyperlinks that an instructor would need to stay on top of to keep the links current. In some cases the links were to very reliable sources that will remain stable for a long time (i.e. Purdue OWL) while others are more transient (i.e. YouTube videos).

In general the text is clear, including good explanations of terms and concepts. It contains very little jargon and the prose is accessible. In “The Details Are Tricky” section, the finer points of primary, secondary, or tertiary information could be confusing to students who are trying to comprehend the basics. The author’s inclusion of informative tables with sample responses as well as the blank template for students to use was helpful.

There is consistent use of terminology and layout throughout the text.

The book has good modularity, excellent graphics, and the text and/or activities can easily be used at the point of need in an information literacy class or one that is discipline specific. Chapters can be used individually or rearranged as needed.

Overall the organizational flow worked well, however the chapters on copyright and fair use might make more sense when grouped with the chapters on the ethical use of sources and how to cite sources.

The EPUB and web versions of the text are easy to navigate with a clickable table of contents and left/right arrow navigation at the bottom of each page. Other than some images that could be resized, the formatting lent itself to consistency throughout the text giving students a uniform experience. In some cases the URL links were just written text instead of hyperlinked which was a little inconsistent. Pleasant graphics added value, explained concepts, balanced out the text, and added visual interest. The inclusion of links that lead out to further explanations of concepts (i.e. the peer review process or how to read a scholarly article) are a nice addition.

There are no major grammatical errors that would be distracting to the reader.

The text is applicable to students in all disciplines, and there are no concerns about cultural relevance or insensitivity. The text is heavily OSU centric (i.e. referencing the OSU code of conduct and requiring students to log in to OSU resources for some activities and examples) and requires effort on the part of instructors at other institutions to make the necessary changes making the content applicable at their institution.

With modifications this text could be incorporated into a three credit information literacy course for undergraduates or into other disciplines. The fair use and copyright sections could be useful to instructors as well as students. Could easily integrate with the ACRL Framework. There is some great general information on writing and making an argument that are applicable across disciplines.

Reviewed by Eric Bradley, Research and Instruction Librarian, Goshen College on 5/31/19

The focus of the book is on published sources for college level research and writing. In this area it is comprehensive. It does not address other areas of academic research. read more

The focus of the book is on published sources for college level research and writing. In this area it is comprehensive. It does not address other areas of academic research.

The content is accurate, error-free, and politically neutral. The last piece makes this a excellent source in the current United States political climate.

Content reflects the current realities of the information landscape. Several of the chapters use up-to-date wording that may need to be updated more frequently, but the excellent modularity of the text allows for accommodation.

The book is straight forward and uses contemporary language of the information and academic landscapes.

The text follows a consistent framework throughout the book.

The text is divided in a way to teach across a course. While the text builds upon itself, many of the chapters stand alone well. I have skipped several chapters of the text and it has not caused any disruption with students.

Excellent organization. The text guides the reader step by step through the research process.

Interface rating: 4

The overall interface is strong. The images and charts are excellent, although the use of branded logos in some of the images may become dated.

No grammatical errors noted.

The text is focused on academic research practices for a North American context. While not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way, it does not take into consideration research practices of other cultures.

I use this text as a replacement of Booth et al.’s Craft of Research. Beside the benefits of being a open textbook, this text provides a more relevant guide to finding sources in the current academic environment.

Reviewed by Kathleen Murphy, Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Music Thearpy, Loyola University-New Orleans on 4/30/19

This book includes all relevant information to help students choose appropriate sources for an academic research paper. It clearly defines different types of sources that can be used, and the difference between primary and secondary sources. It... read more

This book includes all relevant information to help students choose appropriate sources for an academic research paper. It clearly defines different types of sources that can be used, and the difference between primary and secondary sources. It gives an overview of how to search various databases, and defines and describes boolean operators. The chapter on ethical uses of sources clearly defines plagiarism and how and when to cite so as to avoid plagiarizing. The chapter on copyright is an excellent addition; that information is not common in many texts related to academic writing. Each chapter contains extra activities students can work on independently to help with understanding and application of the material covered.

Overall, I found the book to be accurate. I did find one error in Chapter 7. In the section titled "Challenges in Citing Sources" the entry labeled "Running out of Time" was repeated. In regards to bias--I did not find the content to be biased; however, the majority of links where students could go to get extra information were connected to Ohio State University. The one notable exception were the links to the Perdue Online Writing Lab.

The content is up-to-date and relevant. Choosing and using sources for an academic paper has not changed much. What has changed is how to access and find the sources to choose and use. This book does a nice job of explaining how to find sources--databases, google scholar, and search engines. My only concern is the frequent suggestion to search Wikipedia. As an academic, I find this a little troubling. To the author's credit, they did not that one should not cite Wikipedia or use information from Wikipedia in an academic paper. I am not able to comment on ease of updating information, as that is a technical issue.

The book is written in clear, accessible language, with limited "jargon." At times I found the writing to be too simple, written more for high school students than college students. Definitions are provided for all relevant terms.

The book is internally consistent. It moves through the process of choosing and using sources in a linear fashion. However, to their credit, the authors note that writing an academic research paper is not always a linear process.

Each chapter is broken up into smaller units that cover a topic relevant to the chapter theme. Sections of this book could be assigned as individual assignments based on areas of difficultly students seem to be having. Alternatively, a professor could develop a class session or two around each of the chapters. These book seems to be very versatile; there are links to previous chapters that readers can click on to refresh their memories.

The topics in the text are presented in a logical and clear way. The book moves through each topic associated with choosing and using sources in sequence that most researchers would follow. The table of contents, with main headings and subtopics provide a step-by-step guide to help undergraduate students through the research process.

There are many links in throughout the book that students can click on to get more information or to practice skills. Navigation back to the main text is a little trickier. Sometimes, clicking on the back arrow will get the reader back to the page s/he was studying before clicking on the hyperlink. More often, however, the back arrow will take the reader back to the Table of Contents, or front cover of the book. Not all the links worked when I went through the book

I did not fine any grammatical or mechanical errors. I think the book is well-written and appropriate for high school students. I think the language may be too simplistic for most college students.

I did not come across anything that was culturally insensitive or offensive in any way.

I think this book is an excellent resource for high school students, and maybe college freshman who need help in choosing and using sources for an academic paper. The book is logical, gives an overview of the process and provides excellent examples and extra activities to enhance learning. I think it also could be used as a self-study guide.

Reviewed by Miguel Valderrama, Adjunct Assistant Professor, New York City College of Technology on 4/7/19

This book is a great resource of all steps needed to be taken in an academic research process. The book's index clearly displays a suggested methodology to follow and makes it easier to comeback for the review of previous chapters. In general the... read more

This book is a great resource of all steps needed to be taken in an academic research process. The book's index clearly displays a suggested methodology to follow and makes it easier to comeback for the review of previous chapters. In general the book is easy to read and every time a new world or a particular terminology related to the topic comes up, it is clearly defined and put into context.

This book collects a series of methodologies that have been proven to be efficient when they are put into use during the process of academic research. These techniques are not only presented and described to the readers, they are also actively used in the various examples, pretty much in every chapter in the book. These techniques may not be the only way a person can start and develop a research process but they are certainly a clear and convenient way to do so for beginners. There may be complex terminology entered to the discussion which may slow down the reading process. However, this is effectively addressed by separated easy to access links; This provide more in detail definitions and exercises from a particular section.

This book is a guide that presents many particularities of research methods and techniques that have been used for long time. These methodologies have been proven to be very effective in academic research. This book not only collects many of these techniques but carefully relate them to new searching tools that are part of the communication era we live in nowadays. This was not the case just couple of decades ago. I anticipate long life to the methodologies presented in this text with years or decades before they could become obsolete. Within this context, the searching tools may keep changing but the methodologies that are used here could keep working efficiently; at least as a way to approach to a research process for an undergrad student.

The author uses a clear and easy way to understand the language and terminology that makes part of a research process. Without getting too deep into technical terminology the book marks clearly words that deserve more understanding and usually provides separate links which connects the reader with a deeper explanation. The text doesn't have very large paragraphs all around which to me allows readers to keep a good and dynamic paste. Links to previous discussed topics presents a quick way to review previous content without loosing the paste.

Consistency rating: 4

Through out the entire text it is consistent that at the beginning of every chapter there's a statement related to what the previous set of contents was, also in several parts of the book this first paragraph makes a point about how this relates to what it is about to be presented in that chapter. This is why several words allusive to the subject of research are reuse constantly in different chapters. This makes lots of sense to me as a way to keep the reader's familiarity with these terms which will also ended up increasing retentivity levels in the subject. Since the book is clearly broken down into steps they all seemed to be well placed in order to present a cohesive structure that guides the process of research.

Academic research it is a process that should be flexible by nature in many ways. Even though some parts of the process could be done simultaneously to others, this will definitely not apply to all of them. This book brings up an interesting way to order this process which even though may look rigid at times it tries to make sure that some parts are developed before others in the research. It is presented that way so that there's enough understanding of the bases before there can be any progression or even conclusions. This is mostly reflected in the techniques that are presented, where some of then have as their main job to detonate creative thinking. For example: the importance of the set of questions that are asked at the beginning is that the answers will be used mostly to clarify the end goals of a research.

This text is organized following a clear and efficient way to develop an academic research process. It is well distributed in chapters that are all connected to each other in one or other way. The book is efficient at establishing this connections, specially at the beginning and end of every chapter where there's mentioning of the previous and following topic's main ideas. This helps readers to keep track with the overall content.

This book presents an excellent graphic approach to expose its content. The electronic version has the really nice feature of having the index accessible at any point of the reading process. This text is full of links that are either deeper explanations of a particular topic or a set of exercises that are directly related to what the reader is learning. If the idea was to present the information in a format that doesn't look congested to the eyes and that it is not distracting the reader from the important ideas, the editors made an excellent job. This book can't be easier to read, follow through and understand.

Besides a couple of punctuation spaces here and then I was not able to perceive any major grammatical errors. The book is well written all around. Punctuation is pretty much excellent and its composition keeps the reader in track with the content effectible.

Particularly the topics used as examples were very diverse in therms of gender allusion, cultural backgrounds and specialized fields. Research is a process that apply to all disciplines and the professionals working in them. This makes the research process a particularly broad one. The book makes efforts to present this idea by using numerous examples that connect with different segments of the population at numerous levels.

This books is an excellent tool available to anyone who wishes to start a serious research process in almost any particular professional area or field, even amateur researchers can benefit from its content. The book was written to merge the topic content with a series of exercises, tests and examples using a cohesive testing dynamic that helps to increase retention. This dynamic becomes the most efficient way to understand what it takes to start a professional research. The steps to follow the process are laid out clearly in this guide and the important things that need to be taking in account during the research process are highlighted and deconstructed to obtain a deeper overall understanding by the reader or researcher. The fact that the reader is being quizzed constantly during the entire book generates a stronger connection with the important subjects and a good way to evaluate the reader's understanding in real time as well. Highly recommended to undergrad and graduate students and perhaps even amateur researchers becoming familiar with the process of research as well.

Reviewed by Cindy Gruwell, Professor/Research Librarian, Minnesota State on 1/11/19

Choosing and Using Sources does a very good job of covering the topic of Academic Research. Each chapter focuses on an aspect of the research process and thoroughly covers the content with easy to read text and examples/activities for student... read more

Choosing and Using Sources does a very good job of covering the topic of Academic Research. Each chapter focuses on an aspect of the research process and thoroughly covers the content with easy to read text and examples/activities for student practice. Most importantly first-year students through seniors should find the content informative and presented in a collegial format.

All of the content is accurate and explained in a manner that is easy to grasp. There are some minor typos in some of the activities, but they do not confuse the reader. The text is bias-free and includes interesting examples that students can relate to.

The overall content is highly relevant and will age very well. Updates would definite be easy to handle and manipulate. By breaking down each chapter into a variety of content areas, readers will be able to focus and review areas of concern.

Having read several print and online texts of a similar nature, it was a pleasure to come across a text that is clean, consistent, and concise. Each topic has an appropriate amount of information to get the point across as well as tips that lead the reader to additional information. The presentation is consistent throughout without any bloating often found in print texts.

The authors of the text did an excellent job of producing an online text that is consistent and easy to use. No tricks that make it difficult to navigate or confusing to read.

One aspect of the text that I especially like is the modularity that allows for the use of a particular chapter or page(s). Too often texts have chapters that make readers feel like there is no end in sight. The concise nature of this work blends extremely well with the modularity of the complete text.

What makes this text easy to adapt is the layout from beginning to end. Each chapter and section scaffolds upon the other which will allow students to build their skills in a natural manner. Knowledge attained will easily transfer from one topic to another as they move through the book.

While I believe that the text is excellent and I have adopted it for my class, I do find myself frustrated by not being able to move from one section to another within a chapter without having to go back to the contents list. This surprised me because most books and tutorials have forward and backward links, especially within chapters.

There are a few grammatical (spelling) errors in several of the exercises, however, they do not interfere or confuse the reader.

This is definitely a professional work that has no cultural issues and is an excellent example of a non-biased text.

While looking for an OER text I was delighted to come across this book. The content and flow fit in with my class content extremely well and is an excellent resources for courses in the liberal arts, general research, and library-centric classes.

Reviewed by Kathy Moss, Clinical Professor, University of Missouri on 11/27/18

The hyperlinks and examples include a wide range of topics that include cooking, surgery, architecture and sports. read more

The hyperlinks and examples include a wide range of topics that include cooking, surgery, architecture and sports.

Credit is given to an editor, production and design specialists, as well as several content contributors. No additional information is provided to support inference regarding author credibility.

The open textbook Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research presented material that is relevant to my current issues course, including Background reading, Developing a complex research question, Classifying sources, and Evaluating sources.

The topics are presented clearly, using an engaging conversational style and frequent tips and activities. A reader who has no background in information science may be hampered by some terms used in the book (e.g., blog, podcast, Wikipedia, browser, database, Gawker, Reddit). The book does give intentional attention to the technology-naïve audience with some skills (Control-F) and topics (brief description of LexisNexis Academic, Lantern Online).

Terms and organizational framework are consistent throughout the text.

I plan to assign particular chapters of this text that are most relevant to my course's goals. The consistency of the text's terminology and organization should permit this reading plan with minimal distraction to the reader.

The information is clearly organized with a contents listing, chapter numbers and section headers. This organization facilitates easy access for learners with a specific interest in a single topic.

The author’s frequent use of hyperlinks invites students to explore topics more in-depth.

I note a few minor typographical errors that did not adversely affect my ability to comprehend the text.

The book includes examples of non-Western sources such as the allAfrica news database. Some of the links and examples are only available to individuals who have accounts with The Ohio State University. Though the book includes examples in audio and video formats, it could be improved by giving specific attention to topics related to accessibility.

The book provides the opportunity for readers to apply the topics by analyzing its frequent examples.

Reviewed by Lori Meier, Associate Professor, East Tennessee State University on 11/8/18

This text is exceedingly comprehensive. It addresses all elements of academic research (i.e. choosing questions, exploring and selecting sources, searching strategies, citation issues, copyright) as well as providing abundant links for student... read more

This text is exceedingly comprehensive. It addresses all elements of academic research (i.e. choosing questions, exploring and selecting sources, searching strategies, citation issues, copyright) as well as providing abundant links for student use. It is lacking an index or glossary - although many concepts are defined in the various chapters.

This book is accurate and comprehensive. I would not hesitate to use this resource with undergraduate or graduate students as a beginning primer for research.

The book is relevant and timely in regards to the various resources and tech tools it mentions (Google Scholar, EndNote, Ref Works). Given the subject matter I suspect that this book will have longevity to users.

The text is clear and provides definitions for jargon/technical terminology that is used. It is very comprehensive which might be a bit intimidating for the first time reader, but all elements needed for cogent research are included and therefore necessary. I appreciate the use of student scenarios as a way to step-by-step show the thinking process of choosing research questions.

Very consistent and thorough.

This text would be ideal for use as single chapters in courses where the content is needed. While the content is crafted with Ohio State University students in mind it is still very relevant for use by students and scholars. I am already thinking how I might use this next semester with an undergraduate honor's thesis student - both as modules to be read but also as a reference source.

The book is organized in a logical manner but spends only a brief amount of time about qualitative and quantitative research as peer-reviewed sources and only gives basic definitions for those two terms. I would perhaps suggest an additional section on qual/quant/mixed methods research methodology and perhaps a quick overview of research methods or samples via discipline. Additionally, a mention of the common IRB process for Human Subject Research might be helpful to those students using academic sources that discuss that process. It is a very clear text and this could be added with just a few pages of information that might be beneficial to students.

Navigation links worked well for me. The book is easy to read and the display features are not troublesome to me.

Grammatically sound.

Appropriate and is accessible to a wide audience.

Reviewed by Kathy Lamb, ELL Specialist/ English Instructor, Miami University on 8/2/18

The text covers most areas of academic research, and has a table of contents but no glossary, which is much needed. Topics are clear and concise, transitioning smoothly from general to more specific, such as “What is a Research Question?” to... read more

The text covers most areas of academic research, and has a table of contents but no glossary, which is much needed. Topics are clear and concise, transitioning smoothly from general to more specific, such as “What is a Research Question?” to “Narrowing Topics” and finding “Related Terms”. Perfect for college freshmen.

The content is accurate, error-free and unbiased.

The source is up-to-date and it would be relatively easy to update information.

The text is easily understand and flows in a clear manner. Ideas and topics progress easily and examples are used to offer context.

Ideas build one upon another and academic vocabulary is repeated throughout.

Some parts of the book seem a little “text heavy”, but overall it is well organized with efficient flow. The embedded links in the text connect earlier concepts

One problematic is that there lacks a glossary. The table of contents is very long, but broken down so that one is able to easily reference topics. Chapters are concise enough to be read in a timely manner and effectively used.

For some of the online activities it was confusing to discern which answers were correct or incorrect. And, after clicking on and completing an activity one must go back to the former page in order to navigate further. On the other hand, being able to access other information about the chapter topics via link is a handy tool.

There are no grammatical errors.

This book is culturally relevant and not offensive or insensitive in any way.

Reviewed by Sara Abrahamson, Faculty, Minneosta West Community and Technical College on 8/2/18

This text is very comprehensive. The complete research process is broken down from start to finish. read more

This text is very comprehensive. The complete research process is broken down from start to finish.

Very accurate information.

The content is very relative to today's researchers and does a fine job of detailing types of sources.

Very easy to read with content that is easily understood by even a first-time researcher.

The content was very consistent and easy to follow because if it.

LOVED the easy of reading because of the small, digestible informational pieces!

The flow of the text was perfect, following the research process from beginning to end.

I enjoyed the hyperlinked Activities, however, they did not all work for me.

No grammatical errors found.

Very culturally unbiased.

Excellent text that I wished I had years ago!

Reviewed by Justin Megahan, Librarian / Associate Professor, Fontbonne University on 6/19/18

The text does a good job covering academic research. There is a table of contents, but I feel like a glossary and index would be helpful for this book. read more

The text does a good job covering academic research. There is a table of contents, but I feel like a glossary and index would be helpful for this book.

The content is accurate. I did not notice any errors.

The content is up-to-date. There are many databases and websites referred to in the text so it is important to check those relevant links on occasion. It would be straightforward to update the text as needed.

The text clearly steps the reader through the research process. The process is discussed in detail over the 13 chapters.

The text is consistent.

The book is modular. Chapters can be rearranged without confusion. The Copyright Chapter is a good example of a component that can be used separately as a supplemental reading in another course.

The book is organized logically. The addition of a glossary and index could help navigation.

The book has images, charts, and videos that are useful. There are quick activity questions that tests the students’ knowledge on the current topic. These activities do link out to OSU’s site so it is important to make sure those links continue to stay active.

The text contains no grammatical errors.

This book does not have cultural concerns.

Many links direct the reader to OSU resources that have restricted access. The discussion of OSU resources and tools needs to be modified to fit the reader’s institutional resources. “ACTIVITY: Quantitative vs. Qualitative” has a link that is no longer working.

Reviewed by Jane Theissen, Reference Librarian/Professor, Fontbonne University on 5/21/18

The research process is explained in detail, from how to develop a research question to where and how to research through the application of copyright, fair use and citation styles. read more

The research process is explained in detail, from how to develop a research question to where and how to research through the application of copyright, fair use and citation styles.

The content is accurate and unbiased. Most of the links, which are plentiful and well placed, are either broken or link to resources at OSU's library, which I could not access. Use of this book would require time to correct this.

The content is stable. Other than updating the links, little would need to be done to use this text.

Very clearly written; jargon is appropriately explained. Self-checks allow students to make sure they understand the material.

Each section logically builds on the previous, and tone is consistent throughout.

The text has a great deal of modularity. Each section is listed in the Table of Contents and covers a few pages or less. There is no index. It is easy to find and move to sections quickly. the structure allows one to pull sections out for other courses (which I have done).

The research process is explained step-by-step with appropriate detail and excellent graphics.

Images, charts, and diagrams serve to explain and support the text. Many seem rather large and I found them a bit distracting. Additionally, there are page breaks in strange places, leaving large blocks of white space on pages while the narrative continued on the next page. This was very confusing. It would also be helpful if the links would open in a new window.

It seemed inclusive where applicable.

This text impressed me as appropriate for high school students or college freshmen.

Reviewed by Laura Heinz, Librarian, Texas Tech University on 3/27/18

This book provides beginning student researchers with a clear and complete path to the research process for class assignments and undergraduate research projects. read more

This book provides beginning student researchers with a clear and complete path to the research process for class assignments and undergraduate research projects.

The content is presented is accurate and in an unbiased manner for students to easily grasp the process and concepts.

This book was written in 2016 and may need some minor updates. The material is presented in a logical manner that leads students through the process as they begin their research. Each chapter can be used independently as the instructor fits the chapters into course content.

This book is easily understood by an undergraduate and doesn't require extra readings or content to be understood. It is concise and clear which will be appreciated by the student as they conduct research.

This book is consistent in it's framework which leads the student to each step logically avoiding confusion or frustration.

The chapters can easily be used independently and refer students to other chapters with supporting information.

The book is written to lead students in a logical manner through the research process. The length of the chapters allows a student to easily read the chapter for that step in their research, apply it and refer to it easily.

The book downloads easily onto a laptop or e-reader. The graphics display nicely on either size screen and enhance the text.

No grammatical errors were noticed.

This book is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. Examples used are appropriate.

This book introduces beginning student researchers to the academic research process in a thoughtful and deliberate manner. The books lack of jargon and abbreviations will help international students learn how to better navigate an academic library for research. Instructors in all disciplines should consider this book as an additional textbook for their classes requiring research for assignments, class projects and/or papers.

Reviewed by Hilary Johnson, Learning & Teaching Librarian, The Open University on 3/27/18

The text does not include an index or glossary. However, it covers a complex (and dry) subject in an economical and stimulating fashion. Each reader would learn about the subject from the basic text but the authors have enriched the text by... read more

The text does not include an index or glossary. However, it covers a complex (and dry) subject in an economical and stimulating fashion. Each reader would learn about the subject from the basic text but the authors have enriched the text by embedding audio-visual resources, download-and-keep checklists and formative activities of excellent quality.Chapter 9 'Making an Argument' is particularly strong and complements Chapter 1's analysis of research questions well. It is an excellent resource for undergraduates, post-graduates and beyond, and could also be useful for professionals researching topics to support evidence-based practice protocols.

More tips about applying facets to search results on services like Summon, EDS or Primo would be a useful addiition. I was surprised the authors did not employ language to frame the skill development in the language of 'employability' and life-skills, which might hook readers who are not planning to engage in academic research in the long-term.

The accuracy of the book was excellent, My score would have been 5, except the advice about copyright legislation and fair use is only applicable to students of Ohio State or elsewhere in the USA; so an institution in the Britain, Ireland or Europe would not be able to use or recommend chapters 11 or 12. However, these chapters are well-judged for the intended audience; succinct and comprehensible, where so many guides are too woolly or arcane to be useful to a general readership.

Chapter 1 had a dead link to an audio-visual resource. The explanation of how to use Wikipedia for academic study was nuanced, classic and practical. The explanation of how to use truncation and wildcards were similarly time- (and platform-) proof. There is much current interest in 'fake news' and the manipulation of Facebook and Google algorithms. So it could be timely to add a section on the known issues and some practical strategies to compensate for them.

The authors use excellent, clear English that should be comprehensible to anyone with academic english reading proficiency. My only qualms related to an ambiguous use of the term "poster" (this word has a particular meaning in an academic setting which was not explained) and more extensively around the slightly simplistic and dated language used for the university library catalogue and abstract & indexing databases. One of the activity sheets is structured like a decision-tree and starts with the question "are you working from a database"; with modern resource discovery platforms and other aggregating tools, students may not be able to tell whether they are looking at results from a single database, all the databases from one supplier or multiple databases from a variety of suppliers.

The stylesheet and planning of content is elegant and the quality is consistent throughout the text.

Each chapter is split into useful subsections, with clear formatting to demarcate between topics, tips and activities. The authors have also helpfully embedded hyperlinks to relevant chapters or sections earlier or later in the book.The length of individual subsections is consistent to make reading online easy (balancing scrolling and page turning). However, the length of embedded audio-visual materials varies so a student planning their time might be surprised in places.

The text has a sensible progression of topics, with hyperlinks back and forwards to connect relevant topics. And the final chapter, 'Roles of Research Sources', pulls together the lessons learnt with a useful acronym (BEAM), giving the book a strong ending.

I accessed the text on a variety of browsers, screen sizes and operating systems without any problems with the interface.

I only spotted two minor errors - site instead of cite and White's definition (page 186) without an apostrophe.

Not all the video materials embedded are captioned making them inaccessible to some categories of disabled users.

academic writing research topics

Reviewed by Lydia Bales, Academic Skills Tutor & Librarian, Staffordshire University on 2/1/18

Considering the book is not overly large, the guide manages to be very through and comprehensive guide to locating sources and using them correctly. It even goes further in giving some great information on making an argument and writing out the... read more

Considering the book is not overly large, the guide manages to be very through and comprehensive guide to locating sources and using them correctly. It even goes further in giving some great information on making an argument and writing out the research. The chapters are in easily digestible chunks covering the process of searching and evaluating resources in a useful and cross-discipline manner. It covers the source search process of research in an easily digestible manner.

The topics are accurate and have been written in a way that they will not date too much. The links and examples of the services provided may need updating to keep them accurate but the nature of the online format makes this easily possible. The Copyright chapter is obviously only applicable to those studying in the US. Having a version of this chapter available discussing copyright law in the UK could be useful any access the course for a different location.

The topics, examples and videos used are relevant and useful and should not date too much. The links and examples of the services provided may need updating to keep them accurate but the nature of the online format makes this easily possible. Some of the examples and links are specific to Ohio State and America and this can limit the relevance for students who do not have the ability to access Ohio State resources or are not based in America. Also the copyright section specfically is obviously only US copyright law limiting it's usefulness for students based in other locations.

The writing style is straightforward and easy to follow. It is sometimes slightly repetitive but overall the information is clearly presented and the vocabulary used is not too advanced. The style is informal and it makes a weighty topic much easier to process. I think it would be useful to have a glossary in the resource for students who maybe have not come across some of the topic specific words before and need them defining.

I was impressed with the consistency considering the work is made up of different author’s contributions. I could not identify different voices within the text, which helped improve the flow of the work. The arrangement of the contents tab is very useful to help navigate to specific sections of chapters as well as the overall chapter.

The layout of the book makes this modular. You can choose which sections to look at in any order and they read clearly and separately well. The other sections are signposted throughout the text and you can link back through to these using the hyperlinks provided. I think the order could be slightly improved by moving the citing and copyright information after the information on argument and writing but because you can choose how to read the book then it is not really an issue. I think it is important to note that if you cannot play the video content or the links in the book are Ohio State Specific the book does lose some of its positive features.

Overall, the structure is straightforward and logical. It flows in a manner that is easy to read and to process. Using the navigation you can work your way through the book in any order you feel is appropriate. As I stated I feel the referencing and copyright information could be in a different place but because you can choose to read this in a different order, it does not really matter.

Having read the online version on both a PC and a tablet I found the interface both easy to use and accessible. The page and chapter length worked well on both platforms and it was easy to access the links and activities contained within the resource. I could not access the videos on the PC due to not having Adobe Flash and it would be useful to have known I would require this to access the resource in its entirety. The video content is a refreshing change to just text and the images used are overall relevant. The videos do not all include a text version and this would be useful for accessibility. A few of them do have this option. Some of the images in the text viewed blurry on my PC and tablet. I am not sure if this was an issue with my own software or an error in the book.

I did not notice any errors during this read through. In some places, the text was a bit repetitive but this not disrupt the flow too drastically.

The examples used are not offensive and are diverse in their range. They have not given examples that define the guide for specific subset of students, which makes it more applicable.

Just for accessibility purposes, I think all the videos need a text version not just some. In addition, the RefWorks program has now been updated and it is called New Refworks with a changed logo and this could be updated in the book along with the guide to setting up Refworks if your institution subscribes. I feel that there are many links that you could not access unless you were an Ohio State user and this could disrupt the flow of the book for some users.

Reviewed by Lori Jacobson, Associate Director, Curriculum Development, William & Mary Writing Resources Center on 2/1/18

The book provides a comprehensive introduction to the use of sources in academic writing. read more

The book provides a comprehensive introduction to the use of sources in academic writing.

The book is a polished, professional and appropriate tool to help students improve their information literacy.

The content is relevant for undergraduate students and their instructors. It focuses primarily on fundamental approaches to finding, evaluating, and deploying sources in order to enter the scholarly conversation. While the authors occasionally mention a specific tool, or insert links to outside sources, these are placed within "Tip" boxes that can easily be updated.

Because this book was created for students at Ohio State University, it is sometimes quite specific about tools or processes that are unique to OSU. Instructors using this book at other institutions may sometimes need to suggest their own's institution's available tools to keep the text relevant for their students.

The book is well-crafted for an undergraduate audience, taking an easy-going, friendly tone and clearly defining key terms and concepts. It is also accessibly structured, making it fairly easy for users to jump between topics, rather than requiring a linear read. Links between related sections are provided wherever it is appropriate.

The book uses a consistent design scheme and structure. Features that appear in each chapter include graphics, tip boxes, examples, activities, and summaries.

Each unit of the text stands on its own and could be easily assigned as an individual reading. Rather than being self-referential, the text will suggest that more information on a related topic can be found in one of the other modules.

The text is organized to flow in roughly the same sequence as a typical research project. Students who are reading the text while working on a project should find individual sections logically presented and relevant. This is clearly not a text designed as background reading; rather it functions best as "just in time" information for students working through the research process.

I found the text quite easy to use in it its online form. It is visually appealing, easy to navigate, and thoughtfully arranged.

I noticed a couple of typos, but no significant grammatical errors.

The examples provided are of broad interest, and most readers will have some familiarity with them. There were no insensitive or offensive comments or examples.

Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research is a practical tool for novice researchers. It asks students to begin the process with a research question, and then provides a step-by-step approach to creating the question. All the other chapters flow from this effective beginning, and should increase students' information literacy by helping them understand types of sources available to researchers, the relationship between sources and information needs, how sources should be evaluated, and how they can be deployed effectively and ethically. Additional chapters on argumentation and copyright round out the book's overall usefulness to students engaged in a research project. This book could be easily paired with a staged research project, and would provide students with the "just-in-time" information they need to successfully complete the assignment.

Reviewed by Kristin Green, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Penn State Worthington Scranton on 2/1/18

The aspects of academic research that are prudent to cover within the first year of any undergraduate student's general education are all covered within this textbook. From an introduction to the ethics of source use to crafting basic Boolean... read more

The aspects of academic research that are prudent to cover within the first year of any undergraduate student's general education are all covered within this textbook. From an introduction to the ethics of source use to crafting basic Boolean search strings, all facets of entering scholarly discourse are addressed in brief chapters that feel modern and accessible. While instructors may wish to supplement or replace some of the exercise sets in the text with their own assessments, the content of the text provides ample coverage if selected to serve as a primary textbook for a foundational information literacy course.

The book is accurate in addressing the current state of the information landscape as encountered in the realm of academic research, as well as the legalities of copyright and fair use.

All content within this book is current and the content within chapters sections are written in a style that today's undergraduate students will be able to learn easily from. Many of the concepts, processes, and principles that are covered in the text have an inherent longevity that will prolong the relevance of this text past its initial publication date. However some chapter sections, tutorials, and videos are institution-specific reducing the overall relevancy of using the entire text at other locations.

The text is written in a clear and concise style that current students will find very accessible. The authors consciously defined any technical terminology or jargon as it was introduced throughout the chapters. Furthermore, the technical concepts that were more complex to define are often accompanied by visuals to help convey what is being defined.

The terminology and format of the book, along with the linked exercise sets and visualizations, provide a solid consistency that will helps students focus on learning the content rather than being bogged down with understanding the textbook format.

Instructors could easily parse different chapters of this book to use for modular instruction, especially in "one-shot" or other limited instructional scenarios. Some of the chapters are a bit self-referential which may generate a minor degree of confusion if used out of the holistic context.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 3

While there is a logical flow to most of the chapters, some seem a little out of place such as the "Making an Argument" chapter. I would have preferred a division of chapters into sections, where the writing-related chapters were separated from the source-related chapters. I also think the chapters that covered Copyright, Fair Use, ethical source use, and citations would have a stronger flow if organized together in their own section.

The ability to navigate through the book from the table of contents page is a great feature for students, especially when the instructor is choosing to assign only particular chapters or work through some of the chapters in a different sequence. The linked exercise sets are also easy to navigate through, allowing students to focusing on applying learned concepts rather than learning new interfaces. However, throughout my review some of the linked external content would not open for me and links to external materials always have the possibility of changing which may result in future inaccessibility

No grammatical errors were detected when reviewing this book.

This book is not offensive nor culturally insensitive in any manner.

For any instructor looking for an open textbook to orient undergraduate students to the basics of the academic research and writing processes while simultaneously providing context of contemporary issues surrounding these scholarly activities, this is a comprehensive and accessible choice!

Reviewed by Anne Behler, Information Literacy Librarian & Instruction Coordinator, The Pennsylvania State University on 2/1/18

This text offers a comprehensive breakdown of the academic research process, with special effort made to demystify jargon that may present itself in either the classroom or library environment. Beginning with establishing a research question and... read more

This text offers a comprehensive breakdown of the academic research process, with special effort made to demystify jargon that may present itself in either the classroom or library environment. Beginning with establishing a research question and carrying through to integrating and citing sources, the text includes practical tools for students to use in their own research, as well as links to supplemental information. If anything, the text errs on the side of providing too much information, such that a novice researcher may feel overloaded.

The text offers an accurate articulation of the research process, and avoids bias by covering a wide variety of potential information sources, including the use of web search engines other than Google.

Because the information landscape is constantly shifting, the text will require fairly frequent review. This is particularly important when it comes to how web sources are addressed. For example, the book does not address fake news and/or dealing with problematic web resources, and it glosses over use of social media as an information source. However, the concepts related to the research process itself change very little, and the information presented about them has staying power.

The text is written in accessible language, and works to address uses of jargon that are typical within the academic environment by providing explanations for what professors typically want when they request a particular item in the research process. This is an effective way to establish relevance with students, as well as clarify academic expectations.

The language within the text is consistent and accessible, with helpful insertions of definitions and/or links to explanatory supplementary information online.

The text's sections are clearly and logically labeled, and could very easily be plugged into a course in part or whole.

The order of topics in the text follow the research assignment process, from point of assignment decoding through to writing and source citation. Given the audience for the text and its intended purpose, this makes great sense.

The text contains links to many outside web sources that may provide helpful supplemental information for the reader; however many of these links were found to be dead. Comprehensive review of all links is highly recommended. In addition, I recommend continuing review of available videos related to the topics, as many selected are either rudimentary or contain dated material.

The writing and grammatical quality of this text are of the highest quality.

The text is culturally relevant and inclusive in its examples.

As stated, this book holds great utility and relevance, but requires updating for links to external web resources. It will also need to be adapted to keep up with the changing landscape of information sources themselves.

Reviewed by Craig Larson, Librarian, North Hennepin Community College on 2/1/18

The book is very comprehensive, sometimes almost too much so (sections on copyright seem to be more detailed than the average college student would need or perhaps be interested in; the section on the lifecycle of information, while interesting,... read more

The book is very comprehensive, sometimes almost too much so (sections on copyright seem to be more detailed than the average college student would need or perhaps be interested in; the section on the lifecycle of information, while interesting, also is a bit questionable as to its overall relevance). Instructors who choose this book for a one- or two-credit information literacy course will have much more material at their hands than they can reasonably cover in a semester. This book would make a good companion volume to just about any course involving research.

The content is accurate and unbiased. As an example, I was interested to find that the author actually recommends that students use Wikipedia, at least in the very early stages of research, to get an overall picture of their topic. So many college instructors, regardless of the subject, seem to have a strong aversion to Wikipedia. Here, the author actually goes into some detail on how using the references in an entry can lead the researcher to additional sources he/she might not find through other means. Some of the activities are a bit misleading or written in such a way that there could be more than one right answer, which isn't necessarily an error, but could be tightened up a bit.

The content is largely relevant and up-to-date, though I was a bit surprised to not find a section addressing "fake news," which has become such a watchword over the past year. I was also a bit surprised that, although the author has a section talking about which "neighborhood" certain types of information "hangs out," there wasn't a discussion of different domain names, such as ".edu," ".org," and ".com" and what they indicate to readers. Also hampering the book's relevance somewhat is an overabundance of examples and activities that require an Ohio State student ID to log-in. Many of these would have to be re-worked or re-written for the book to be useful at other schools.

In large part, the book is clearly written and new ideas are clearly explained. The writer does a pretty good job of avoiding jargon and technical terminology or where it can't be avoided, of providing examples and clear definitions of terms. Some of the activities aren't so clearly written that there is one obviously correct answer. Also, some of the scoring of activities isn't clear enough to indicate to the user what was wrong and why it was wrong or even the correct answer that should have been chosen. Not every concept is adequately explained or thoroughly developed (for instance, the crucial process of moving from an initial reading to a research question could use further clarification and development). Another area that could use further discussion and development would be how to use databases.

The book is largely consistent, though there are occasions where the consistency falls through. For example, most of the accompanying activities will open in a new window, but not all. There were several occasions where this reader closed out an activity window and closed out the entire book as well. This is an area that someone really should take a look at, as it can be confusing and irritating for the user. Also, the fact that many of the book's activities require an Ohio State student ID effectively locks out users from other institutions.

The book is largely modular, with sections that can easily be broken apart and assigned at different points in the course. There is a very useful table of contents, broken down by subject into smaller pieces that can easily be accessed. As mentioned previously, the book is very comprehensive, almost too much so at times, so having this table of contents is very helpful.

The book is fairly-well organized, though there are things placed in odd locations that could be touched on earlier or later, as the case may be. For instance, there is a good discussion fairly late in the book about deciding whether to quote, paraphrase, or summarize, which would have been much more useful if it was placed in the section of the book that directly addresses each of those activities. Instead, it is placed in a section on academic integrity (which, again, is very Ohio State-specific, too much so, really). I also question the relevance of a chapter on creating an academic argument, which if it is to be included at all, would seem to make much more sense earlier in the book, when students are learning the basics of research and how to apply it to their writing.

The book is largely free of significant issues, although as mentioned previously, many of the activities require an Ohio State student ID to log-in and use, which makes them useless to students from other institutions. Also, the activities are sometimes difficult to follow--one doesn't know why one answered incorrectly or what the correct answer even is in some instances. And the fact that some activities open a new browser window and some don't can also be confusing. There are a few activities that lead to broken links.

There are the occasional run-on sentences and spelling mistakes in the text. It's almost impossible not to have some issues in this area. However, the infrequent errors don't detract from the book or its overall usefulness, though it might be a good idea for someone to go through the text and try to clear some of these up.

The book does a good job of avoiding being culturally insensitive or offensive. Activities and examples are written in such a way as to be inclusive. Many of the examples link directly to sites that deal with minority themes and issue.

I think, on the whole, this is a very useful book and one that could be put to immediate use in many instances. However, the number of activities and examples that require an Ohio State student ID to access make this less relevant than it could be if the author had striven for more universal examples.

Reviewed by Mairéad Hogan, Lecturer, National University of Ireland, Galway on 2/1/18

This book covers the subject matter in a comprehensive and detailed way. The way in which the material is presented is very suitable for students who have not previously been involved in academic research as it starts at the very beginning and... read more

This book covers the subject matter in a comprehensive and detailed way. The way in which the material is presented is very suitable for students who have not previously been involved in academic research as it starts at the very beginning and assumes no prior knowledge. It has additional features that help to reinforce the material, such as activities and MCQs. These help to reinforce the learning and test the reader’s understanding. Additionally, the examples used are very useful and helpful in gaining understanding of the subject matter.

It goes into the material in depth and not only tells students how to progress their research but also explains clearly why they should be doing it this way. For example, it explains to students how to differentiate between good and bad sources. However, I have one small concern with this aspect. They do not tell students how to differentiate between different standards of peer-reviewed journals. They do mention looking at citation count but state that is not a useful measure for very recent articles. Some discussion on determining the quality of the journal itself would be helpful. For example, looking at citation counts for the journal, rather than the article would be one example, as would looking at rankings.

Overall, I would see this as an excellent reference book to last students through their academic careers.

The material itself is accurate. However, many of the links to additional material either do not work or are inaccessible to those without OSU credentials.

The material is mainly presented in a way that will last. However, many of the links no longer work so these should be checked and alternatives put in on a regular basis. Additionally, there are links to videos that may not be there in the future, although all I clicked on were available. However, the text description of the videos did not work. Many of the activities (MCQ’s etc) have a dated feel about them in terms of layout and interaction. The design of them could do with some updating.

The writing itself is very clear and easy to understand. Diagrams are used to good effect to clarify concepts (e.g. use of Venn diagrams to explain Boolean concepts). However, some of the terminology is not as clearly defined as it could be. While terms are generally explained clearly in the text, it would be nice to have a glossary of terms. Additionally, the MCQs are not always clear as if the reader gets an answer wrong it is not always apparent which is the correct one.

The book is consistent in writing style and interface.

The book is structured in a modular format whereby the reader can dip in and out of different sections, as they need to. Equally, for a student starting out, it is structured in a way that is likely to follow the steps in the same order as the student, making it a good companion to their research projects.

The book was organised in a very natural and sensible way and flowed smoothly from one topic to another. Links were provided to related sections of the book where relevant so that if the reader forgot what was meant by a particular topic, they could easily hop back and forth. The book started at the very beginning with good coverage of developing a research question and then progressed through tools and sources to help with this. The additional activities were all web based, which works fine if you have easy access. However, I was using a kindle with poor broadband so struggled to access it at times. It also felt a bit disruptive leaving the book to do the activities. It’s also not always clear whether links lead to another part of the book or to an external site. The tips are a useful addition. The stand out when flicking through the book and help to reinforce the important points. It is also useful the ways steps are clearly broken down into sub-steps.

I downloaded it to Kindle, and found a number of issues. It struggled to deal with larger fonts, resulting in some text not being visible.. There were also references to “the bottom of the page” but the bottom of the page varies depending on font size. Not all of the activities worked. Some of the activities required OSU credentials to access them, which was frustrating.

There were some minor grammatical and typographical errors but nothing major.

The book is very US centric in its use of examples. For example, there is an American football example and news sources referred to are US based generally. Additionally, copyright discussion is US centric.

Overall, I found this to be an excellent book that will help students in their research projects. I think it is a book that they will use for a number of years as it is has sufficient depth to help at different levels. The one main change I would make would be to broaden OSU references and activities so they are referring to databases in general, for example, rather than simply talking about the OSU one. Much of the material is relevant regardless of institution but a reader unfamiliar with databases would not be aware of this and might skip over some very useful information.

Reviewed by Anthony Patterson, Assistant Professor, North Carolina Central University on 2/1/18

Choosing and Using Sources is an extremely thorough text taking readers through the research process from formulating research questions to fair use and copy right issues. I particularly liked the online examples and resources including quizzes... read more

Choosing and Using Sources is an extremely thorough text taking readers through the research process from formulating research questions to fair use and copy right issues. I particularly liked the online examples and resources including quizzes and videos. The table of contents is thorough but there is not a glossary. While this is a strong text some discussion of theory and how theoretical frameworks are used in academic writing.

While the text could have addressed additional areas, the authors were accurate and detailed. Chapter 8 - How to Cite Sources is well done and accurately takes novel researchers through when they should and should not provide citations.

The authors present how to develop, approach, and conduct sound research in a well thought out format. This text is up-to-date addressing issues like Wikipedia and Google Scholar. While issues around these information sources will change, the way this text is set up, it can easily be updated in the future.

The book is well written, clear, and easy to follow. Jargon such as primary, secondary, and tertiary sources were explained clearly with appropriate examples. This text will be accessible for my students and most others pursuing advanced degrees.

The authors are consistent throughout the text when discussing topics like presenting arguments and the relationship this has with concepts like research questions and the sources researcher select. While consistency is expected is difficult to do especially when writing as a team. More impressively is the consistency of supplemental materials throughout the text.

The book has long chapters and occasionally I had some difficulty knowing where one section ended and another began but overall it is readily divisible. Another important aspect of the text are the supplemental materials like online quizzes and videos which are also clearly align with the sections in the text.

I was skeptical at first when I began reading but the overall organization of this text is good. Even though the text is about writing and sources, a section of theory and incorporating theoretical frameworks would have strengthen the book. However the topics selected flowed well and led potential researchers through a logical process.

A few problems linking to sum supplemental materials but overall I was impressed by the quality of the graphics as well as the links to quizzes and videos that were provided.

I did not come across any grammatical or typographical issues.

I did not see any cultural insensitive examples or information provided. However I also did not see a lot of racial or ethnic diversity in examples throughout this text. Overall, I feel the authors approached the subject matter appropriately.

Reviewed by Rachelle Savitz, Assistant Professor, Clemson University on 2/1/18

The text is quite comprehensive regarding finding, using, and understanding sources. It provides the process of sourcing from start to finish with examples and activities provided throughout to support the reader. Various ways to find sources... read more

The text is quite comprehensive regarding finding, using, and understanding sources. It provides the process of sourcing from start to finish with examples and activities provided throughout to support the reader. Various ways to find sources are described. There is a focus throughout on software and databases for the students at the authors institution and that can be confusing to readers from other institutions. The information provided regarding citing, ethics and copyright, and fair use was informative and would be beneficial to the reader. There were sections throughout that could have been more in depth and more specific. For instance, when going over the various ways to cite sources, additional examples could be provided and the version/edition should be listed. For instance, was the APA citation in APA 6th edition format? Also, make sure to address citing from secondary sources as students do this often and tend to cite what they read even if they read it from another text. The TOC was helpful and allowed ease of understanding what was to be covered in each section. One main complain that I have was regarding the additional information provided to help the reader in writing a paper. This information would be helpful for basic college writing but not for academic writing, thesis or dissertation writing. The sections required for some of these papers are not discussed and the text eludes that the sections provided regarding writing an argumentative piece would be appropriate for all. Also, synthesizing information could be explained a bit more and with more depth. Synthesizing includes more than critiquing and summarizing. All in all, the sourcing information is spectacular and the additional information could be expanded upon.

Accuracy of sourcing was spot on. Some of the additional categories discussed, as mentioned in the first section of this review, could be expanded upon to fully explain that category, if it is to be included in the book. The examples and activities provided were quite good and would be very beneficial for students to apply what they are learning in real-life contexts. Links were provided for extending information. I did not attempt to open every link but making sure they are up-to-date will be important as time goes forward. I also feel that the section on popular texts can be misleading. Stating that the Washington Post is "popular" eludes that it is not reliable or valid. This is not necessarily true as many experts in various fields write sections in "popular" newspapers.

As previously stated, a lot of links go to OSU resources. This could be problematic for any reader that is not at OSU. More information should be provided to support any student in the world as that part would be confusing to many students.

The text is easy to read and follow. All new information is explained and then examples and activities are provided. This is student friendly and allows any reader to quickly follow along and understand what is being stated, especially regarding the sourcing elements. As stated above, there are some sections that could/should be expanded upon for clarity and this might be best for beginning university students but the text was easy to understand in regards to sourcing, citing, and fair use. More information on how to use the sources and sections of papers would be beneficial to all students.

Each chapter seemed to follow a similar structure that followed the TOC.

Modularity rating: 3

Reading the book online provides ability to chunk the text based on assignments and can be read chapter by chapter, entirety or starting at different places. Due to the extensive amount of outside links and examples, this would be quite different if read in paper format. This book truly has to be read online to ensure benefit from all of the additional activities, links, examples, sources, etc. In addition, the many links specific to OSU would not be helpful for other students.

The organization is consistent from chapter to chapter. Information is explained and then examples and activities are provided to further knowledge. This works well for readers that needs examples.

Using a laptop provided no issues. However, when using a smartphone, the pages changed in size and various display features did not load properly or at all.

Very few grammatical errors were noticed.

No cultural issues noticed other than the many OSU references and sources. This could be offensive to other institutions as they will not be able to access many of the links.

Reviewed by Scott Rice, Associate Professor, Appalachian State University on 2/1/18

The book is very comprehensive which sometimes detracted from its usefulness. There were a few units that may be superfluous, but I did appreciate that the author seemed to err on the side of inclusivity, leaving it to other adoptees how much... read more

The book is very comprehensive which sometimes detracted from its usefulness. There were a few units that may be superfluous, but I did appreciate that the author seemed to err on the side of inclusivity, leaving it to other adoptees how much content they might use and repurpose.

The book is error-free and appears to be free of bias.

The book is pitched to an Ohio State University audience, so some of the resources pointed to would not be the same as a potential adopter's institution might select. In addition, the book needs some updating regarding the impact of social media on the information cycle. Social media formats are mentioned, but a fuller treatment of how they fit into the information climate would be a good addition.

The text was clear and easy to read, and provided numerous examples for its points. It also did not rely on jargon in its explanations, which makes it much more accessible.

The text was consistent in its use of terms. I found its tone consistent, as well as the level of explanation for the wide variety of concepts explored.

The organization of the text into units makes it very easy to break the content apart into smaller units and use it for a variety of purposes. I could see using the content for different parts of several courses, as well as incorporating it into e-learning content.

The topics are presented in a logical fashion, following the path that a typical research assignment might take. This will also make it easier to fit within the flow of a course that uses the textbook to teach about the process of academic research.

The interface of the text itself works appropriately, but some of the ancillary quizzes and extra material did not work so well. Many of the graphics did not work as well within the pdf format as they do in the web format.

The textbook was free of grammatical errors and was easy to read.

The text did not appear to be culturally insensitive.

I am exploring the creation of a for-credit information literacy class at my institution and this book is a possible candidate for adoption for the course.

Reviewed by Bryan Gattozzi, Lecturer, General Studies Writing, Bowling Green State University on 2/1/18

I was impressed how the text began helping students understand the benefits of leading a research project by writing research question(s), following with assessment of research methods, and thinking about research writing as an avenue to test a... read more

I was impressed how the text began helping students understand the benefits of leading a research project by writing research question(s), following with assessment of research methods, and thinking about research writing as an avenue to test a hypothesis instead of one simply confirming a previous, and perhaps uninformed, belief.

The book didn't seem to dismiss any possible research method. Instead it provided suggestions of how and when any individual research method may be relevant.

The book was published last academic year and the content included is still relevant, mostly because best-practices in research (and research writing) haven't changed much.

The volume of research methods students can use given the internet's power is ever increasing, yet the book does well to isolate a handful of long standing tenets that academic writers have used for decades while allowing for discussion of web-based writing and multi-modal presentation methods instructors may increasingly require students to use.

Each section is concise, clear, and easy to follow . . . for me.

I assume students will be capable of reading the text, performing quizzes provided, and plotting out a research path to complete their assignment(s).

Then again, as an academic I obsess over these issues. I can see a student yawning while reading this text.

The content isn't especially fun to read yet the information provided in relevant and time-saving if students are willing to relax, read actively, and apply the material to the assignment their instructor has given.

I don't imagine many students would seek the book out and read about research methods, yet an instructor can pair excerpts from the book with specific assignments along a student's research path to help the student retain and apply the helpful suggestions in the book.

The text does well to allow students to name the process they're going through when composing a research question then deciding on what research path fits their question. Students are guided to consider what blend of qualitative / quantitative, primary / secondary / tertiary, or public / professional / scholarly research will fit their research and writing goals.

The book refers back to the same terms throughout and provides students with active learning worksheets to plot a research AND writing plan to complete their work, one they could conceivably follow throughout their academic and professional career.

Each subheading contains, on average, not more than a page of content allowing instructors the ability to easily limit reading assignments from the book to concise, focused sections.

The book is very process-based, and follows the workflow necessary to write a successful academic researched assignment.

The limit of this strategy might be students being overwhelmed with so much discussion of process they'd be paralyzed to inaction.

An instructor, then, would have to be direct in assigning reading materials relevant to a student's immediate research goal.

I like how the text follows the path a student would follow: from narrowing a research question, selecting and reviewing research materials, then choosing how to implement them ethically in writing.

It also details how to process research considerations students may not consider including how to archive research results, to respect copyright law when publishing blog posts or submitting student work to an online repository.

The text contains many online activities, sample research artifacts, and instructional handouts. Some require on Ohio State student authentication. The text is still useful without access to these materials, though an instructor would have to alert students to this issue.

Text was proofread well.

Didn't see any culturally insensitive content.

Reviewed by Jonathan Grunert, Assistant Professor of Library Services: Information Literacy Coordinator, Colorado State University - Pueblo on 2/1/18

This textbook covers the concepts found in the ACRL frameworks in a way that is meaningful and accessible to academic researchers at all levels. It adequately provides a discussion of the complete research process, with clear signposts as to which... read more

This textbook covers the concepts found in the ACRL frameworks in a way that is meaningful and accessible to academic researchers at all levels. It adequately provides a discussion of the complete research process, with clear signposts as to which steps writers might need to revisit to improve their work.

The content appears to be accurate to 2016, with some acknowledgement that finding sources is an activity that has seen many changes in the past few decades, and will likely seem more, and rapidly.

Information discovery and retrieval is a rapidly changing process in a changing field. But much of the content in this textbook—as far as general advice and instruction for finding resources and the ways to use them—remains relevant. As information processes change and as information uses change, I have no doubt that librarians will be at the forefront of maintaining the relevance of a textbook like this one through various edition changes.

This textbook is clear, and accessible to researchers at all levels. Jargon, where present, is well-explained, and the contexts for the various components of the textbook are provided.

The text and frameworks in this book are consistent with ACRL frameworks as well as with the ways librarians tend to talk about finding and using sources. Furthermore, the book consistently uses the same terminologies to clearly explain sometimes difficult practices.

I would be very comfortable using any chapter of this book to teach a component of the academic research process. The chapters are discrete, with well-defined boundaries. The modularity of this textbook helps reinforce the overarching idea in this book: the iterative research process. Students might read the chapters in virtually any order, and come away with a valuable understanding of the research process.

This textbook presents the research process in the way that many students and faculty think about the process—from the perspective of the end goal, and through the organizational structure of an academic paper. But, it also indicates throughout the process places when the researcher needs to revisit an earlier step, to modify the project, or to make the end product more meaningful.

No issues in the interface; nothing distracting from the content.

Some minor punctuation errors, but no grammatical errors that distract from the content.

This textbook comes from an American perspective for ways of searching for, retrieving, and using information, as well as the traditionally American ways of constructing arguments. Though there is not discussion of other cultural ways of arguing academically, this textbook does not dismiss or otherwise denigrate other cultures; nor is it insensitive in any way.

Many examples are university-specific to the libraries at Ohio State University, as should be expected from a textbook such as this. As such, this book will be most helpful to students using the book at OSU. However, instructors using this book need to be aware of this focus, and must prepare to supplement with materials accessible by researchers outside OSU.

Reviewed by Susan Nunamaker, Lecturer, Clemson University on 2/1/18

This textbook is comprehensive. It goes in-depth covering the topics of research questions (specifically how to narrow down topics), types of sources, sources and information needs, precision searching, search tools, evaluating sources, ethical... read more

This textbook is comprehensive. It goes in-depth covering the topics of research questions (specifically how to narrow down topics), types of sources, sources and information needs, precision searching, search tools, evaluating sources, ethical use of sources, how to cite sources, making an argument, writing tips, copyright basics, fair use, and roles of resource sources. The textbook hits all of the topics that I plan to cover in my upcoming classroom-based research course with the exception of techniques for completing and writing a literature review. The textbook touches on the topic through a section on "background reading", but does not go in-depth. Otherwise, the textbook covers every aspect of academic research.

I found no errors or bias issues in my initial first read of the textbook.

The information and techniques provided within this textbook are up-to-date and relevant for academic research. I reviewed several textbooks before choosing this one for my upcoming masters-level classroom-based research course. I chose this book because of its relevance in regard to the practical skills needed in order to complete research assignments within the course, as well as, writing a capstone research paper.

This textbook is clear and exceptionally readable. It is organized by research skills in an order that makes sense to the reader. For example, the book begins with a chapter on choosing one's research question. Verbiage is clear and concise for all levels of academia to be able to effectively utilize this text.

This textbook is consistent in terms of terminology and framework. Each chapter of the textbook builds on the last. The reader is not necessarily expected to have prior knowledge of research before reading chapter one, but should easily be able to have a good frame of reference for academic research by the end of the textbook due to its high-quality framework for scaffolding knowledge with each chapter.

This textbook does a great job of sectioning academic research into small bites for the reader. It was easy for me to create modules from the textbook's chapters, spreading the information within the text over an 8-week course. The modularity of this textbook was a selling point for utilizing the textbook with students.

This is a well-organized textbook. Each chapter builds on prior chapters. Chapters are organized in a logical manner. The first chapter begins with the purpose of research questions and builds content to assist the reader in narrowing down options for research questions. The textbook progresses to assist the reader in building skills as an academic researcher throughout the textbook.

No interface issues were discovered during my initial exposure to the online format. I printed the PDF (because I still love paper) and all display features printed properly. The online navigation is easy to use and pleasing to the eye, as well.

No grammar issues were detected during my initial review of the textbook.

This text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in my opinion.

This is an excellent textbook if you are looking to utilize it to introduce students to the academic research and writing process. Its layout and design and conducive to module-based instruction, and the content is well thought out and beneficial.

Reviewed by Diane Kauppi, Library Faculty, Technical Services & Systems, Ruth A Myers Library at Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College on 2/1/18

The text did a great job of covering the subject and the table of contents were laid out well. The content was well thought out. read more

The text did a great job of covering the subject and the table of contents were laid out well. The content was well thought out.

I found the accuracy to be good. The content is a good representation of what a student needs to know in order better understanding library research.

The content itself is good & should stand the test of time for the near future. The only exception is that even though it's only one year from the publishing date (2016) many of the links are broken. And I would have preferred a OER text that was geared more generally for application to any institution vs. the inclusion of OSU specific references, links, resources.

For a text written to a 4-year university/college audience the text was good. For a 2-year community college audience some of the terminology would need to be defined.

I found the consistency to be good. It followed through each section with including tips, activities, etc.

I think the modularity was good. And the text could easily be broken down into smaller sections to be used as units by themselves or refresher units. The only issue would be where there are links within a module that link to other modules. Add to this that these links didn't work-- I rec'd errors each time I tried a module link.

The overall organization and flow as great. As stated on p 6 ("... as though you are conducting a research project while reading them [the sections]...") this made my logical side happy.

I like the links to activities for students to practice the skills being taught. The problem though was that many of the links no longer work. Additionally, many of the links are to areas not available to users who are not affiliated with OSU. And as mentioned in another review section, module links to other modules didn't work either.

I found the grammar to be quite good with only a few exceptions or where it was clunky at times.

I thought the text was neutral in this area. Nothing that blatantly jumped out at me.

I appreciated the link to application of research to other areas of our lives outside of academic research. I try to get this point across to students, especially when they are hesitant and resistant to library research. I found the "tips" & "summaries" to be a nice added 'pop' & easy for referring back to later. I liked the bold letters/words for emphasis. And the suggestion to "brush up" on p 31 was a nice touch vs outwardly assuming they don't know. The downloadable templates are a great resource for students. Overall, I found the text to be a good resource.

Reviewed by Kristine Roshau, Instructional Technology Specialist and PT Faculty Librarian, Central Oregon Community College on 8/15/17

This text is extensive! Like the title suggests, it truly is a full guide to academic research, from developing a topic, finding sources, and using them appropriately. It also follows the logical order of the search process, from identifying an... read more

This text is extensive! Like the title suggests, it truly is a full guide to academic research, from developing a topic, finding sources, and using them appropriately. It also follows the logical order of the search process, from identifying an information need, evaluating source quality (and purpose), and how to perform complex searches. It also highlights several common areas where academic research can be performed, from the college library catalog to specialized databases and how to find academic sources on the free web.

The book also covers what to do once sources have been found, including the importance of properly citing sources, ethical use of source material, and how to cite unusual or non-standard source material. It then moves into addressing the writing process: developing an argument and idea, writing tips, and a large section on copyright, fair use, creative commons, and public domain.

The table of contents is very granular, which is helpful. The sections vary in length, but given the overall size of the book (190 pages) having a very specific TOC is useful when returning to the text as a reference source.

I did not find any objectionable or questionable content. The authors have done a good job of selecting examples for each section (often with associated online activities or examples linked out to the web) that are varied and unbiased, but also represent realistic examples of what students might be encountering during their research process. I was really pleased when looking through the section on citing sources - styles can change, but the book is written in such a way as to be comprehensive about the purpose of citing sources, and links out to many helpful web sources, citation tools, etc so the information will remain accurate in the textbook even if the style guides themselves are updated in the future.

The section on copyright is similarly done.

See previous note - it is clear the authors have taken care to include examples that will remain relevant, not evaporate into popular culture, and provide flexibility where the content may be updated or changes (such as copyright law and citation style guides). They do provide a LOT of external links and activities, not all produced by Ohio State. So it's possible that some of their links may break in the future. It does appear that they have made an effort to either link to open sources they control, or which are unlike to change significantly (ie: government websites).

If I were using this text, I would probably modify some of the resource sections (eg: databases) to reflect those that the students at my institution have access to, though the writers do make a point of identifying OSU access-only resources where applicable. I would also update the copyright/plagiarism section to include our college's student handbook blurbs, etc.

The tone is extremely approachable in all of the areas I checked. This is extremely important in academic research where there are a lot of areas of possible legal entanglement, and the authors have done a credible job of breaking down complex concepts into approachable prose and examples.

The textbook is consistent in both writing and structure; however, I do with the table of contents was split into sections in the same way the content is. Page numbers are given though, so that's not really a big deal. There were one or two places where I saw formatting errors, but nothing overly distracting - it did not adversely effect the content.

It is visually appealing and for the most part, easy to navigate. No huge blocks of text, and it also intersperses activities, tips, and examples. The text is also organized in such a way that it can be used as a reference, without needing to be read from start to finish in order to make sense, which is helpful for the researcher who may need to pop in for just pieces of the work.

However, there is a strong presence of external sources (often OSU library webpages) and activities that are linked out of the text. The writing itself is certainly standalone, but the book would lose a lot of its character if it were printed and not viewed digitally. I would have liked a References or bibliographic section that listed some of these resources, but there wasn't one, meaning the user would not be able to search for the resource if the linked text didn't work.

I can see the potential for too many asides for activities to be distracting, but they are generally held to the end of their relevant sections, so it wasn't too overwhelming. The organization follows a logical research process, walking the reader through from beginning to end.

As mentioned before, there are a few places where it looks like images have distorted the intended formatting, pushing items to empty pages, etc. But these instances are rare. A few of the images could be higher resolution, but they were certainly legible (and I was viewing this text at 125% zoom on a larger screen, so my experience is probably not representative of every reader).

It is long though, and I would have loved to be able to jump to sections through anchor bookmarks in the content page - that would be a nice touch.

I also found a few broken links, which is not totally surprising, given the volume of them in this book.

None noticed in this review.

No objectionable content found - the authors have chosen inclusive examples wherever possible, while remaining realistic about subjects students might be researching.

Not all of the links to activities are self-describing (there are no plain URLs, but many of the activity links contain the same 'Open Activity in Web Browser' text, which would be confusing if a user was navigating with a screen reader.

Reviewed by Deborah Finkelstein, Adjunct Professor, George Mason University on 6/20/17

The book is very comprehensive. The authors consistently explain concepts well and provide easy-to-understand examples that are approachable for the undergraduate audience. For example, the authors don’t just say, “narrow down your source,” they... read more

The book is very comprehensive. The authors consistently explain concepts well and provide easy-to-understand examples that are approachable for the undergraduate audience. For example, the authors don’t just say, “narrow down your source,” they go through steps to narrow it down, walking students through the process. (p 9) Very thorough. They also spend a page and a half giving examples of “Regular Question” vs. “Research Question.” (p 13-14) This ensures that students will understand the difference. They also do well with explaining fact vs. option, objective vs. subjective, primary vs. secondary vs. tertiary sources, popular vs. professional vs. scholarly magazines, when to quote vs. paraphrase vs. summarize, and other concepts that are critical to performing research.

The book does not have an index. The table of contents is quite thorough and very useful in understanding the breakdown of the book or locating certain topics.

The book is error-free.

There are many digital examples in the text. As long as authors make updates as technology inevitably changes in the future, the book should remain relevant.

The book has a conversational tone that is connective, trustworthy, and approachable for the undergraduate audience. This makes it easy to read and easy to understand.

The book is very consistent with tone, and terminology.

In the introduction, the book encourages students to “jump around a bit in this guide to meet your needs.” (p 5). The book stays true to this idea. Students could read the book straight through, but it is well-designed for “jumping around.” The sections stand alone, and instructors could easily assign sections in the book out of order. This book could be used as the only textbook in a classroom, or an instructor could use these modules to supplement an existing textbook. Topics are easily found in the book thanks to an excellent table of contents, a clear organizational structure, and a great use of headers.

The book is well-organized and follows a logical structure. Individual topics are also well-organized. The authors break processes into step-by-step, making is easy for students to learn.

Great use of visual aids. For example, there is a chart on how to narrow down research topic (p 9), and a chart on the roles of resources in research (p 179). These items are great for visual learners, and they make the text come alive while emphasizing important concepts.

The book shares links to outside sources. This provides students that would like more information that is beyond the book with resources. It additionally provides students links to activities, such as one that asks them if a source is primary, secondary, or tertiary (p 34). On occasion, it links to outside companies, such as citation management software, news outlets, and social media, making the book a resource. In this way, the book utilizes the medium of a digital book.

The book is free of grammatical errors.

The book is culturally sensitive. The book is designed for Ohio University students. Examples given occasionally apply to Ohio, such as when the authors are providing examples of newspapers, they list two out of six that are from Ohio, including the campus newspaper (p 43) There is also a link to the OSU Libraries’ newspaper database (p 44), and when talking about citation management software, they mention the three that are available at OSU. It’s not a large enough issue that one should not use the book; it’s still easy to understand, but it is a limitation and worth mentioning to students.

I teach a 300-level English class on performing research and writing research papers. I plan to utilize this book next semester due to the excellent organization of modules, the approachable tone, and the great explanations and examples.

Reviewed by Constance Chemay, Head of Public Services, Library Services; Asst. Professor, User Instruction, River Parishes Community College, Gonzales, LA on 6/20/17

The book does an excellent job covering the subject, and even goes beyond what its title suggests, with chapters on writing and formulating an argument. The chapters on copyright and fair use are exceptional. However, it lacks both a glossary and... read more

The book does an excellent job covering the subject, and even goes beyond what its title suggests, with chapters on writing and formulating an argument. The chapters on copyright and fair use are exceptional. However, it lacks both a glossary and an index. Some terms are defined in their appropriate chapters, but not all. Some students, particularly first-year or those who may be enrolled in developmental courses, would benefit greatly from a glossary. The activities, while appropriate for their contexts, are mixed in their effectiveness; some provide good feedback with clarification, but most offer little more than a smiley face for a correct answer or an “x” for a wrong answer with no other feedback.

For the most part, this book is accurate and unbiased, but one area where I noticed discrepancies is the chapter on citing sources. MLA released its 8th edition in April 2016, yet the examples provided are 7th edition. I also noticed errors in the example for APA; only the first word, proper nouns, and those following major punctuation marks are to be capitalized in article titles following APA formating guidelines. Regarding bias, the book is unbiased; however, I disagree with the discussion of news sources regarding mainstream versus non-mainstream (or mainline as used in the text); main-stream media includes "traditional" sources, e.g., television, newspapers, and radio, as opposed to online sources, especially social media. The authors’ inclusion of Fox News, a right-leaning national television news network, a contemporary of CBS, NBC, and ABC, as non-mainline rather than mainline shows bias, in my opinion. It’s difficult to find news from any news source, mainstream or not, right, left or center, that doesn’t have some bias or opinions in its reporting.

This textbook itself is written so that it will be relevant for a long time. However, there are some exceptions. The discussion of citation styles uses examples for MLA that reflect the 7th edition rather than the 8th, which was released in April 2016. The book covers this discrepancy somewhat with its tip regarding choosing a citation style, with its remarks that styles do change and its recommendation to check with one’s instructors. Another issue is the potential for link rot regarding external websites; in fact there are a few dead links in the text and activities already. A couple of online resources mentioned and linked to, IPL2 and the Statistical Abstracts of the US, have been retired for at least a couple of years, which makes me wonder about when the book was actually last reviewed edited.

The book is well-written, easy to read, conversational. Most technical language is defined and used appropriately.

This book is consistent in terms of its terminology and framework.

This book is extremely modular in its organization at the chapter level and within the chapters. It can be easily reordered to meet specific course or instructor needs. It does refer to other sections of the text, but these references are appropriate, emphasizing more in-depth information elsewhere in the book. Sections that are unique to OSU can be replaced/revised to make the text relevant to other institutions as needed.

It is well organized and reflects the processes and stages of research. While the research process is not linear, the topics are presented in a logical manner that guides students through the process. I did note that a couple of sections in chapter 7, on ethical use of sources don’t really seem to fit there, however. The paragraphs on page 118 discussing a lack of understanding of the materials and lack of time might fit better in other chapters.

While the online version works well, the PDF format has issues. Some of the in-text navigation links work (the TOC links) while others found throughout the text don’t, often giving an “error: unknown export format” message. There are also a few dead links in both the online and PDF formats, as well as in some of the online activities. Some links direct users to OSU Libraries’ resources, either their catalog or their licensed databases, but not all such links are clearly identified as such.

Grammatical Errors rating: 3

For the most part, this text is well-written, grammatically; however, it does have a few grammatical/typographical errors, possibly more than one might expect from a text of this length, and assuming that the author is most likely a committee rather than an individual, more eyes reviewing the text should catch such errors. There are also instances of tense inconsistencies, shifting from present to past in the same sentence. Two paragraphs on page 47, under “Finding Data in Articles . . .,” repeat the same four sentences verbatim in different order. This occurs again on page 88. While these are not grammatical errors, they are certainly editorial errors. Most of the online activities have typos, as well, more so than the textbook.

This textbook is not culturally insensitive or offensive.

I do like this book. I think it puts the topic in terms that students can readily use and understand. I'd even recommend the chapters on copyright and fair use to faculty! I do think that it could benefit from the inclusion of a glossary and an index, as well as regular and frequent review, especially in regards to the linked resources. The PDF version definitely needs revisions since it seems that most of the in-text referral links throughout the text don’t work. Since it is tailored to OSU’s library resources, any instruction librarian using the book can substitute content relevant to his/her institution; non-library faculty using the text can consult their own librarians for help with this.

Reviewed by Dawn Kennedy, Ed.S, Health Education, Anoka-Ramsey Community College on 4/11/17

Choosing &amp; Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research serves as an excellent guide for teaching the research process. It takes the learner through the process of academic research and writing in an easy to understand manner. As an educator... read more

Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research serves as an excellent guide for teaching the research process. It takes the learner through the process of academic research and writing in an easy to understand manner. As an educator in a community college setting, I am working with students who are new to the research process. This text will be useful when working with students to start developing the appropriate process of research writing. The text has neither a back-of-the-book index nor a glossary. It is beneficial that key terms are defined throughout the chapters.

The information presented in the text is accurate at this point in time and unbiased. One concern is that some of The information presented in the text is accurate at this point in time and unbiased. One concern is that some of the links do not work.

Content is up-to-date at this point in time. Most examples and exercises are arranged separately from the main text and can be updated as needed. Some of the content links to the Ohio State University Libraries databases which may not be assessable to students outside that institution.

This text is clearly written, well-illustrated, and user-friendly for the undergraduate audience. It avoids technical jargon and provides definitions where appropriate.

Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research is consistent in terms of terminology and framework.

Regarding the book’s modularity, users of this text can be selective in chapter choice. In this sense the text is useful to instructors and students who wish to focus on a single component and /or use the text as a reference. For a better understanding of the research process in its entirety, reading the text in the order written may prove to be more beneficial.

The text's organization mirrors the research process in a logical, clear manner. Chapters 1-8 lead the reader through the basics of research literacy and research skills; chapters nine and ten explain the process for making an argument and writing tips; Subsequent chapters zero in on copyright and Fair Use information. Key concepts and points are supported with highlights, examples and colorful illustrations.

The text displays generous use of visuals which are clear and free of distortion. The activities provided support the concepts and skills being addressed and are easy to navigate. One concern is the activities which are linked to Ohio State University may not provide access to all, resulting in limited access of information and frustration for the reader.

• The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way.

This is a text does an excellent job of explaining the research process in a logical manner. The text uses examples, illustrations, and skill practice to support the learning process. I recommend this text for use in it's entirely for teaching and learning the research process and as a resource for the rest of us.

Reviewed by Scott Miller, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Rogue Community College on 4/11/17

The book is very comprehensive and even goes beyond what might be expected in this kind of textbook. Along with choosing and using sources, the authors include a section on making an argument. Topics are dealt with appropriately and the text... read more

The book is very comprehensive and even goes beyond what might be expected in this kind of textbook. Along with choosing and using sources, the authors include a section on making an argument. Topics are dealt with appropriately and the text employs tests and activities along the way. I found some of the activities were not particularly well designed and sometimes answers to questions were based on assumptions by the authors as to context that in real life may or may not be appropriate. For instance, they claim that the periodical/journal title "Coral Reefs" is a scholarly journal, but judging by the title alone in a real life exercise there is no way to know whether it is scholarly or popular in nature.

There could have been more discussion about context and how it defines whether a sources is primary, secondary or tertiary. '

What the this textbook does not have is any kind of index or glossary, which I found disappointing.

I did not find any instances of inaccuracies in the text. I did find, however, some assumptions in the text that were not always warranted. I took issue with the assumption that mainline news sources are objective (p. 42). It is very clear that news articles are often biased. I think telling students that mainline news sources are objective effectively disarms instead of promotes critical thinking by students doing research.

On page 126 there is a discussion about using quotations where the authors say that all quotes are to be put within quotation marks. This is not true of block quotes in MLA or APA style and they omit any mention of it.

This textbook should retain its relevancy for several years, but it will lose its effectiveness very soon, since many of the dozens and dozens of links in the text will surely break before long. In the short term the links are a great feature, but they do severely limit the longevity of the book. I also found them annoyingly pervasive.

It should also be noted that the MLA citation example on page 122 uses the outdated MLA 7th edition guidelines.

Overall, I thought the book was very clearly written and easy to follow. The one section I struggled reading was the section on sources and information need. It seemed to want much more editing and was often wordy and almost obscure.

I did not notice any lack of consistency in terminology or framework.

This is one the book's strengths. It was clearly organized into topics and subtopics which sometimes could be addressed in an order chosen by an instructor. There were, however, occasional self-references to earlier sections or previously used external sources.

Moving from the simpler aspects of choosing and evaluating sources to the more complex uses of them and how arguments are constructed made good sense.

Interface rating: 2

I found the interface to have significant problems. At least a dozen links would not work from the PDF text when opened in Firefox. I often got the message, "error: unknown export format." The links seemed to work when viewing the text online, however.

The textbook's usefulness outside of Ohio State is severely limited by the frequent use of sources only available through OSU student logins. The textbook was written for OSU students, but it really fails as a textbook for any other institution unless it is significantly modified.

I found a few missing punctuation marks, and only two missing or wrong words in sentences. For a textbook this long, that's very good.

The textbook used interesting and non-offensive examples.

While it's a good textbook for choosing and using information sources it suffers from being too specifically written for OSU students, as well as including an overabundance of links that will reduce its longevity. Not including any kind of index or glossary is also a drawback.

Reviewed by Vanessa Ruccolo, Advanced Instructor of English, Virginia Tech on 2/8/17

Ch. 1 has a great overview of regular versus research questions and the difference between qualitative and quantitative research. Ch. 2 covers primary, secondary, and tertiary sources as well as popular, professional, and scholarly. Ch. 3... read more

Ch. 1 has a great overview of regular versus research questions and the difference between qualitative and quantitative research. Ch. 2 covers primary, secondary, and tertiary sources as well as popular, professional, and scholarly. Ch. 3 includes a source plan (i.e. what do you need the sources for and what is your plan). Ch. 4 gives tips and hints for searching on a library database. Ch. 5 gives different search options, like the library or Google Scholar. Ch. 6 is all about evaluating the sources you find, including clues about sussing out bias and thoroughness, as well as discussing currency of topic. Ch. 7 discusses why you should cite sources. Ch. 8 discusses ways to cite sources. Ch. 9 is looking at argument as dialog and what is necessary in that exchange and a recommended order of components. Ch. 10 covers quoting, paraphrasing,and summarizing and signal phrases. Ch. 11, 12 are copyright and fair use. Ch. 13 covers the roles or research.

I will use Ch. 1 and 2 in my classes, as I think the breakdown of research is useful and clear. Ch. 3 also has useful imbedded tools that will help students plan; Ch. 4 and 5 might be used as references post-library visit. I will also use Ch. 6 and Ch. 10.

I think the information provided for distinguishing scholarly, popular, and professional is helpful and I hope the resources help students understand good, reliable sources a bit better. The same is true for searching for sources, and I think the sections on search engines and evaluation of sources are going to be quite useful.

While the information on copyright, fair use, and why and ways to cite sources is fine, I won't be using these for my English classes as I find them not as helpful or relevant.

I think the book is quite accurate in terms of information provided. They use sources that both I and my students use, so clearly the book is addressing real needs in the classroom. It also makes suggestions that reinforce the concepts our librarians share with the students and instructors, so I find this to be extremely helpful.

The book suggests Purdue OWL, a source I also use; however, I realized this year that OWL was behind in updating some of the MLA citation changes. So that's something maybe for the book authors to note or address when recommending websites.

With that said, I think the book covers key specifics like university library websites, Google Scholar, and search engines, in broad enough terms to keep it relevant. Also, the graphics are simple and not dated, and there is one drawing of the "outernet" that shows what social media, Youtube, etc. would look like in the "real, outer" world. This drawing is the only thing I saw that might be dated soon, but its point is still solid.

Very easy to read, clear terminology and explanation of terms, and lists are also provided to help break up each page's prose, which means the information is presented in a visually clear form as well.

I think the consistency of terminology as well as the scaffolding makes sense on the whole. I didn't seem places where the language changed or seemed to have several writers or definitions.

Perhaps one of the best parts of this book is how each chapter is contained, succinct, includes an activity, but still builds on and with the other chapters. Each chapter is stand-alone and clear and easy to read online, or if you chose to print it. The creators clearly had the online reader in mind, however, and the chapter lengths and fonts are comfortable.

Overall, I like the organization, specifically for chapters 10-6. I would change the order of the final chapters so that Ch. 9 and 10 come before Ch. 7, 8, 11, 12. I would also move Ch. 13 "The Roles of Research" to earlier in the book, perhaps around Ch. 3 or Ch. 6. If I use these materials, I will reorder some of the chapters for my class so that the scaffolding and explanations work a bit more side by side.

Again, comfortable, easy-to-read pages, simple graphics and the charts used are helpful and appropriate. I especially appreciated that the authors didn't use images that showed people or figures that could both date the book and also make students feel talked down to - I hate images like this and refuse to use textbooks that incorporate them, so kudos!

Additional resources are easy to access.

I wish the email option (for sending yourself a page) pulled up a screen in which I could type the email I wanted it sent to. Instead, it pulls up Messenger, which I don't use.

The Table of Contents didn't let me jump to the chapter when I pulled down the menu. Was that just my computer/browser?

Now, I didn't read through as though I was grading (it is winter break, after all!) but nothing jumped off the page. If something had, if there had been a mistake, I would still use the text; if there had been several, I would have considered abandoning it for class. However, the information is still so good I i might have told my students to find the grammar mistakes as part of an assignment just so that I could use the research parts still; however, I didn't not see any.

No, nothing. Perhaps if the authors include more examples for citations they could pull from culturally different sources then, but the material here was so broad in terms of textual sources it was in no way exclusive.

I will be using parts of this book in my English classes. Well done to the authors - a helpful, free supplement.

Reviewed by Dale Jenkins, Advanced Instructor, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Virginia Tech) on 2/8/17

Having taught freshmen how to write college research papers for the past 18 years, I gave the text high marks on addressing all of the key elements college students need to engage in academic research. read more

Having taught freshmen how to write college research papers for the past 18 years, I gave the text high marks on addressing all of the key elements college students need to engage in academic research.

The text implements content from a host of sources which is extremely useful, but the grammar needs a few tweaks.

This represents a strong aspect of the text. The writers did a good job of winnowing out unnecessary components of the research process, although my freshmen would not delve into the Fair Use and Copyright chapters.

The book gets outstanding marks on clarity. Students will find this to be a definite strength of the text.

The authors did a good job with consistency. I kept my students in mind as I evaluated this aspect of the text.

Students would find this book extremely accessible in terms of modularity. I don't see them being overwhelmed by the text or high-brow jargon.

I noted a logical progression to all thirteen of the chapters. Students in upper-level classes would find the chapters on Fair Use and Copyright more significant in their academic studies.

The hyperlinks and the interactive elements of the book will be extremely appealing to students as well as being substantive.

The book still needs some work in this regard. Pronouns don't always agree with the antecedents, and I noted several shifts in voice in the text.

The text doesn't have any instances of cultural insensitivity, and I pay close attention to this aspect of textbooks when I peruse them for potential use in my courses.

The hyperlinks, using different types of media, and the chapters on "Why Precision Searching?" and the discussion of plagiarism proved to be well-crafted and accessible for students. I also commend the authors for the lack of jargon that would leave students in its wake.

Reviewed by Jarrod Dunham, Instructor - English Composition, Portland Community College on 2/8/17

A very comprehensive guide to the writing of the research paper. I've taught research writing for several years, and this book covers all the material I'd typically cover in a class. Previously I've not used a textbook in that class, but I'm... read more

A very comprehensive guide to the writing of the research paper. I've taught research writing for several years, and this book covers all the material I'd typically cover in a class. Previously I've not used a textbook in that class, but I'm teaching an online section this term and find that the book offers a very effective substitute for the lectured and activities I'd otherwise be presenting in class.

This text is accurate and up-to-date with the most recent developments and issues in the field.

This text is very much up-to-date. It shows an awareness of changing conventions in academic writing, and emphasizes the latest technological tools for researching and managing citations. It frequently links to outside resources, which could be problematic in the event those resources were removed or relocated, but in practice I never encountered such an issue.

Clarity is one of the book's strengths. It is written in clear, simple, and concise prose, resisting the kind of "academese" that is frequently employed in textbooks and gives students a false impression of what academic writing should look like. I found all of the content very easy to understand, and, although it's intended for slightly more advanced classes, accessible for Freshman writing students.

The text is highly consistent, both in terms of the terminology it employs, its organizational structure, and its systematic incorporation of tips, learning activities, and quizzes.

The book is divided into 13 chapters, each of which addresses particular aspects of research writing and can be employed on its own, or in conjunction with other related chapters. I found that assigning chapters in order was generally perfectly appropriate, although there was no issue with assigning the odd chapter out of order - links to previous or later content are provided where appropriate, so students can easily navigate to other relevant sections of the text.

This text is very nicely organized. It moves from the beginning stages of the pre-writing process - choosing a topic and identifying appropriate guiding questions - through the research to the writing of the paper itself. I found that the organizational structure of the text very closely mirrored the structure I use myself in teaching research writing. As such, adopting this text for the course (and adapting the course to the text) was a delightfully straightforward exercise.

The interface of the text is excellent. It is very easy to navigate, very attractive, and all tools work as intended. Some features are only available to those with Ohio State University log-ins, which yields a handful of frustrating moments, but in general I didn't find this to be a significant issue.

The text is error free and written in a simple, accessible, and engaging style. It's not merely an easy read, but one that effectively models clear and concise academic prose for writing students.

To the extent such issues come into play, the text is inclusive and culturally sensitive. The content of the text is mostly neutral on such issues - they simply tend not to come into play - but I was pleased to find a comprehensive chapter on the ethical use of sources, which introduces an ethical dimension to the research and writing process that many students may not anticipate or otherwise be prepared to navigate.

Overall I was quite pleased with this text. In my online section of Research Paper Writing, I have assigned nine of the thirteen chapters, and am very pleased with the breadth of content covered thereby. With one exception, I've been able to assign those chapters in the order they appear in the book, which simplified the planning process for myself, and offers a structure to the course that will be more readily apparent to my students as well. Late chapters on Copyrights Basics and Fair Use struck me as unnecessary and a little off topic, but it is of course easy to simply not assign those chapters, and since this is not a print book they have no bearing on materials costs.

For an online class like the one I am currently teaching, this is an excellent primary text. Even in a face-to-face class it could prove to be a very useful supplemental text. Normally I resist the use of supplemental texts in face-to-face classes, but since this one is free it is ideal for that purpose: instructors and students can simply rely on it to whatever extent feels useful.

Reviewed by Jennifer Lantrip, Reference Librarian, Umpqua Community College on 2/8/17

This book is an excellent source for guiding undergraduate students through the research process, from understanding the purposes for doing research and writing a research question, to composing a thesis and contributing to a scholarly... read more

This book is an excellent source for guiding undergraduate students through the research process, from understanding the purposes for doing research and writing a research question, to composing a thesis and contributing to a scholarly conversation. Students learn where and how to find relevant sources and how to evaluate and use them ethically. The main text is supplemented with links to useful resources, videos, worksheets, examples, and exercises. These are all high quality sources, making this a comprehensive resource for teaching information literacy and the research process. While no index or glossary is provided, terms are well defined within the text. Links are provided to other sections within the text where terms are further discussed.

The content is error-free, unbiased, and accurate. Ideas and concepts are in accordance with the Association of College and Research Libraries’ “Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education,” with the exception of several small sections that could easily be clarified or adapted.

The opening section of Chapter 3 states that researchers should find sources in order to meet their information needs. However, it states that one information need is “to convince your audience that your answer is correct or, at least, the most reasonable answer.” This should be clarified for students so that they understand that they should start their research with an open mind as opposed to looking for sources which support their predetermined thesis.

The section “The Sources to Meet Needs” in Chapter 3 states that convincing one’s audience is an information need and that students should find sources based upon what their audience would be convinced by. Researchers should not choose their sources based upon what would convince their audience, but rather upon what sources best answer their research question. The most relevant and highest quality sources should not be omitted from the research process because the researcher does not think that his/her audience would be convinced by them. It is part of the researcher’s job to educate and convince his/her audience why the chosen sources and the research are relevant and of high quality.

Chapter 13 mentions briefly, “Putting your sources to work for you in these roles can help you write in a more powerful, persuasive way—to, in fact, win your argument.” It is very important for researchers to make convincing arguments through using quality sources, doing quality research, and presenting the information in an understandable way. Students should understand that the goal of scholarly conversation is not to “win” arguments, but rather to contribute to the world’s shared knowledge. While one argument may hold for a time, it will most likely be refined in some way by future researchers.

The main content of each chapter is current and does not contain terms that will soon be outdated. Specific examples and exercises are arranged separately from the main chapter text and can be updated independently. Some of the content discusses and links to Ohio State University Libraries databases which are unavailable to students at other institutions. While some of this knowledge is transferable, the specific information about these databases is unique to OSU Libraries. It would be useful if this information could be generalized in the main flow of the text so that it would be applicable for students at other institutions.

This text is very readable and easy to understand. Concepts are explained clearly. Exercises and examples are provided to help students grasp each new concept. It is written in a casual tone that appears to make an effort to put its readers at ease while giving solid information about how to complete research and writing assignments successfully.

The terminology used in this book and its framework are consistent. Each chapter, chapter sections, examples, and exercises are organized in a consistent manner throughout the book, making it easy to follow. Students can refer to specific sections of the book or read it straight through. Because links are provided to sections of the book where important terms are defined or discussed further, students can easily jump to relevant sections of the book.

The book is divided into chapters and subsections which lead the reader seamlessly and logically through the research process. The book could easily be assigned to be read linearly, but it would also work well for instructors to assign specific chapters as applicable to the course content.

This book takes students through the research process in logical steps, from choosing and refining research questions, to producing and sharing what they have learned. For students who are unfamiliar with the research process, it would be most useful to read the book linearly as each chapter prepares students for future chapters.

This text is easy to navigate in both the PDF and online versions. Images are clear. There are currently no broken links. The contents in the PDF version could be made clearer by making a greater distinction between the main chapter and chapter section titles.

The text has negligible grammatical errors.

This text is not culturally insensitive or offensive.

I highly recommend this book for teaching information literacy and the research process to undergraduates.

Reviewed by Patricia Akhimie, Asst. Prof of English, Rutgers University-Newark on 2/8/17

This textbook does not include an index or glossary but is full-text searchable, returning a an easy to read and access menu of clickable search results to take readers directly to the desired information. In addition, an expandable Table of... read more

This textbook does not include an index or glossary but is full-text searchable, returning a an easy to read and access menu of clickable search results to take readers directly to the desired information. In addition, an expandable Table of Contents for the book is available as a tab so that readers can view an overview of topics and jump to other sections at any time. This textbook offers a review of research methods that is certainly comprehensive. Instructors will likely find that individual sections, rather than the whole work, are most useful in planning lessons and constructing student assignments in research based and writing intensive courses at the undergraduate level.

This textbook is accurate in its representation of research methods and of the reasoning behind these approaches. In addition, details about citation styles, and search tools, seem error-free. Treatments of the more complex aspects of research, such as constructing an argument, are unbiased and thorough.

The textbook should be useful to students and instructors for some time. It should be noted, however, that research software and citation styles are updated, though infrequently. Thus, the video walkthroughs of particular databases, for example, may be obsolete or misleading after some time.

This textbook is remarkably lucid and approachable for undergraduate readers. Discussions of complex ideas are illustrated with useful graphics that readers and instructors will find particularly helpful. The video walkthroughs are perhaps the most attractive illustrations for instructors. These guides will be appealing and easy to use for students intimidated by large databases and their idiosyncrasies.

The textbook is immanently usable. It is consistent in its tone as well as in its use of terms.

It is clear that this textbook has been designed with modularity in mind. Individual sections will be more useful than others, depending on the type and level of the class. In addition, sections can easily be assigned at different points over the course of a semester. For example, sections might be assigned at intervals that reflect the stages of the development of undergraduate student’s independent research paper. The section on formulating research questions might appear early in the semester, the section on citation styles toward the end.

The organization of the book reflects the stages of research. This means that navigating the textbook will be intuitive.

Navigating this textbook will be intuitive, the Table of Contents tab makes moving between sections very easy.

Readers will find the textbook free of simple typos and errors.

Readers will find the textbook inclusive. Some readers may find that the attempt made in the textbook to speak to research in the humanities, social sciences and sciences has meant that discussions can be vague at times but this is to be expected in a textbook on this topic aimed at a broad range of readers and researchers.

Reviewed by Heather Jerónimo, Assistant Professor, University of Northern Iowa on 2/8/17

This text is a comprehensive review of the various types of sources one might need to complete a research project or paper. The book begins with a clear explanation of how to formulate a research question, while the majority of the chapters focus... read more

This text is a comprehensive review of the various types of sources one might need to complete a research project or paper. The book begins with a clear explanation of how to formulate a research question, while the majority of the chapters focus on finding and evaluating sources. The topics in this text are well-chosen and reflect several aspects of academic writing in which beginning researchers might struggle, such as how to do a precision search, understanding biased versus unbiased sources, and how to decide between quoting or paraphrasing. This book is written at a level that undergraduates should easily be able to comprehend, while the content of the chapters gets increasingly detailed and complex throughout the book. There is no index or glossary at the back of the book, but there is a very complete table of contents at the beginning of the text. Readers might find it useful if the chapter titles in the table of contents were in bold, as the detailed breakdown of sections—while helpful—can be overwhelming when one is looking for the main categories of the book.

The text provides helpful and unbiased examples for how to do research in many different areas. The practice activities relate quite well to the content of the chapters, although some links do not work. One of the strengths of the text is its applicability in a general sense to many different types of research.

In most chapters the information is kept very general, allowing the text to enjoy relative longevity, as the process of how to conduct academic research, cite quotes, etc., likely will not change drastically in the near future. For example, in the section on databases, different types of databases are explained, but the author does not reference many specific databases to which students may or may not have access. With an understanding of the concept, students then are equipped to find the databases that pertain to their field and that are offered by their institutions. There are several references to Ohio State throughout the text that will not be helpful to all readers, but they do not impede the reader’s comprehension of the text.

It is a very readable text, written at a level that makes it easily accessible to undergraduate students. The author has avoided jargon that would be confusing to the readers.

Even though the book gives examples of various types of research and sources, it maintains a high level of consistency throughout.

The chapters are clearly divided in a way that allows the reader the option to skip between chapters or to read the chapters in succession. This text could be put to a variety of uses within the classroom. As an instructor, one could use it as a primary text for a Research Methods or Composition class. One could also suggest that students read only certain sections in a class that was not primarily focused on the writing of research papers but that had a research component. This text is a valuable how-to manual that students can reference throughout their academic journey.

The text has a logical organization and flow. The book transitions from more basic information at the beginning to more specialized knowledge in later chapters, allowing students to gradually become more immersed in the topic. The structure permits students to read the text from cover to cover, or to read only the information and chapters about which they are curious. The activities serve as good checkpoints to assess students’ knowledge and break up longer readings.

The interface of the text is easy to manage and does not distract from the content. The placement and accessibility of the activities provide quick and easy checks to assess whether students have understood the concepts of the chapters. The images support the text and are linked closely to the message.

There are few grammatical errors in this text.

The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive. Like many textbooks, it could be more intentional in its inclusion of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds, perhaps in the examples or practice activities.

Reviewed by Dr. William Vann, Information Studies Faculty, Minneapolis Community and Technical College on 12/5/16

While there is neither a back-of-the-book index nor a compiled glossary in this outstanding textbook (key terms are defined, however, throughout the chapters), one cannot deny its comprehensiveness. In fact, this text covers so much ground it is... read more

While there is neither a back-of-the-book index nor a compiled glossary in this outstanding textbook (key terms are defined, however, throughout the chapters), one cannot deny its comprehensiveness. In fact, this text covers so much ground it is unlikely to be used in its entirety for any single college course. Information literacy and research skills courses will find the first eight chapters to be a robust introduction to their subject matter, replete with interactive activities and auto-graded assessments. Composition courses engaged in research-based writing will likely work through the first eight chapters selectively, but then dwell on chapters nine and ten on argument formation and writing. Such courses may also benefit from the excellent chapter thirteen on Joseph Bizup's BEAM method of deploying research sources in scholarly communication. Chapters eleven and twelve on copyright and fair use, respectively, are likely to be used only by advanced undergraduates, faculty, and professional librarians, but they do serve as a handy reference nonetheless.

All of the chapters of this textbook contain authoritative and accurate information, in line with national information literacy standards and sound pedagogical methods for composition and critical thinking. The only section of the text I took issue with was the "Fact or Opinion" part of the second chapter, where the authors try to distinguish between fact, opinion, subjective information, and objective information. The authors' attempt results in claims like "the death penalty is wrong" being rendered as opinions, while claims like "women should stock up on calcium to ensure strong bones" are judged to be subjective information. Facts and objective information are superior, on this way of thinking, because they are the result of research studies, particularly empirical, quantitative ones.

I suspect that this way of drawing the distinction would do little to challenge the naive relativism most undergraduates bring to the classroom. (How many of us, when analyzing a text with beginning undergraduates, have had to entertain the question "Isn't that just the author's opinion though?") A better approach would be to talk about claims that are empirically justified (facts), claims that are justified, but not empirically (value judgments - "x is wrong", prescriptive claims - "women should do x"), and claims that are not adequately justified by any means (opinions). In this way, answering a research question like "Is the death penalty unjust?" is not merely an exercise in subjective opinion-making, but rather an exploration of reasoned argumentation, only some of which may be empirical or based on research studies.

The text is current and will likely be so for some time. Examples, activities, and tips are marked off from the main chapter prose, so will be easy to refresh when necessary.

There is no lack of technical terms in the world of information studies, but this textbook does a fine job of providing definitions where appropriate in each chapter. Concepts and methods are explained in context, and illustrative, easy-to-follow examples adorn each chapter.

The only area of the text that falls a little short on clarity is the interactive activities. These are usually multiple choice or matching questions, but some of the word choice in questions left this reader confused, and in some cases the instructions could have been more explicit.

Being authored by committee, we might expect this textbook to suffer in the consistency category. Yet it does not, thanks again to the fine editing job by Cheryl Lowry. Perhaps the book's provenance as a series of online tutorials put together by librarians and faculty at OSU is partly responsible for this.

As the authors suggest on the first page, the research process isn't always linear. So reading a text modeled on the research process oughtn't to be a straightforward chapter-by-chapter march either. Consequently, faculty and students can comfortably read this text selectively and skip chapters as needed. For the most holistic understanding of the research process, however, it would be sensible to work through at least chapters one through eight in their entirety.

I appreciate how the text's organization mirrors the research process itself. The first chapter takes on research questions, exactly where student researchers need to begin their projects. Subsequent chapters explore types of information sources, how to find and evaluate them, and finally how to deploy them in a well-argued scholarly product. The writing in each chapter is clear and crisp, with important concepts amplified by colorful visualizations.

As mentioned above, the chapters on copyright and fair use which occur near the end of the book feel like a logical interruption to the book's flow, and they might well fit more comfortably as appendices for occasional reference by advanced undergraduates, faculty, and librarians.

The "look and feel" of this textbook is clean and very intuitive to navigate through. The design strikes a pleasing balance between prose, graphics, and special formatting features like the explanatory, grey-background "TIPS" found in each chapter. Subheadings, bulleted and ordered lists, and judicious font choices make the text easy to read in all its online file formats.

One weakness of the interface is that several of the linked activities point to OSU Libraries' resources, thus requiring OSU authentication to be accessed. While it is understandable that the authors wanted to include their libraries' proprietary information sources in the activities - these are the sources their students and faculty will be using in actual practice, after all - this obviously makes this text less of an "open" textbook. Those outside of the OSU community who would like to adopt this textbook will therefore have to come up with their own replacement activities in such cases, or do without.

A few of the links in the text did lead me to a curious OSU server error message: "Error: Unknown export format", but I expect these links will be repaired as they are reported to the authors.

This textbook has clearly been edited with careful eyes by Cheryl Lowry, as grammatical errors are few to none. The grammatical hygiene of the text can probably also be attributed to its collective authorship - over a dozen librarians and faculty of the Ohio State University Libraries developed the content, which was born out of a series of online tutorials.

This textbook is culturally relevant in its use of examples and depictions of college students.

This text is a substantial contribution to the open textbook movement, and its quality easily meets or exceeds anything comparable in the commercial publishing arena. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Kelly McKenna, Assistant Professor, Colorado State University on 12/5/16

The book provides a thorough introduction and how to regarding sources in academic writing. With the exception of the first chapter on writing research questions, the rest of the book is focused on sources, which is relevant for any type of... read more

The book provides a thorough introduction and how to regarding sources in academic writing. With the exception of the first chapter on writing research questions, the rest of the book is focused on sources, which is relevant for any type of academic writing not just research papers. The information is relevant across disciplines and readable to a wide audience. It is clearly written for and geared towards undergraduate students, particularly from Ohio State University. The index is detailed making it easy to locate specific information and includes hyperlinks for clear navigation. A slightly altered index format would make the chapter topics more readily available and accessed. All subjects and chapters are aligned rather than clearly indicating each of the chapters found within the text.

Content throughout the book is accurate and clearly written. There does not appear to bias in reading the material. The book includes numerous resources linked throughout the text, however some are no longer active resulting in error messages.

Due to the significant number of links throughout the book, it is likely updates will be necessary on a consistent basis. These links are extremely beneficial, so ensuring they are accurate and up to date is essential to the content of this book. Much of the book reads as a "how to" regarding sources, so although practices for scholarly writing will likely not become obsolete the sources and technology used to locate the sources will evolve.

The informal tone of the text is engaging and applicable for the intended audience. The writers are aware of their audience, avoiding technical jargon. Also, throughout the book they provide numerous examples, resources, activities, and tips to provide insight and relevancy to students.

The structure of the book is clear and well organized with each chapter providing scaffolding for the next. Although the text is internally consistent regarding terminology there are formatting differences between and within some chapters. Blue boxes throughout the text contain tips, examples, answers, etc. Organization, readability, and consistency could be improved if these were constant throughout the text similar to the presentation of activities in the text.

Sections of the book could be easily assigned and read in isolation. Subsections of material are clearly marked and chapters are presented in organized fashion with clear delineation between segments. The inclusion of numerous activities, examples, resources, and tips improve modularity.

The book is created as a tool for students completing academic writing and follows this course. Topics contained in the book are presented in a clear and logical structure. As mentioned above, with exception of the first chapter, the material is relevant to all undergraduate academic writing, not just research.

The layout and display work well as a PDF or electronic book. Numerous visuals are included throughout and are free of distortion or other distracting or confusing issues. As mentioned above, the index could be improved by clearly articulating the subheadings as within a chapter.

The book contains minimal to no grammatical errors.

The book is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way.

Some sections of the book are specific to Ohio State University potentially limiting its relevancy and audience in specific chapters or sections.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Research Questions
  • 2. Types of Sources
  • 3. Sources and Information Needs
  • 4. Precision Searching
  • 5. Search Tools
  • 6. Evaluating Sources
  • 7. Ethical Use of Sources
  • 8. How to Cite Sources
  • 9. Making an Argument
  • 10. Writing Tips
  • 11. Copyright Basics
  • 12. Fair Use
  • 13. Roles of Research Sources

Ancillary Material

About the book.

Choosing & Using Sources presents a process for academic research and writing, from formulating your research question to selecting good information and using it effectively in your research assignments. Additional chapters cover understanding types of sources, searching for information, and avoiding plagiarism. Each chapter includes self-quizzes and activities to reinforce core concepts and help you apply them. There are also appendices for quick reference on search tools, copyright basics, and fair use.

What experts are saying about Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research :

“…a really fantastic contribution that offers a much needed broadened perspective on the process of research, and is packed to the brim with all kinds of resources and advice on how to effectively use them. The chapter on plagiarism is really excellent, and the chapter on searching for sources is utterly brilliant.”

– Chris Manion, PhD Coordinator of Writing Across the Curriculum at Ohio State University

“… an excellent resource for students, with engaging content, graphics, and examples—very compelling. The coverage of copyright is outstanding.”

– J. Craig Gibson Co-chair of ACRL's Task Force on Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education

About the Contributors

Cheryl Lowry , training and education specialist, Ohio State University Libraries.

Contribute to this Page

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11.1 The Purpose of Research Writing

Learning objectives.

  • Identify reasons to research writing projects.
  • Outline the steps of the research writing process.

Why was the Great Wall of China built? What have scientists learned about the possibility of life on Mars? What roles did women play in the American Revolution? How does the human brain create, store, and retrieve memories? Who invented the game of football, and how has it changed over the years?

You may know the answers to these questions off the top of your head. If you are like most people, however, you find answers to tough questions like these by searching the Internet, visiting the library, or asking others for information. To put it simply, you perform research.

Whether you are a scientist, an artist, a paralegal, or a parent, you probably perform research in your everyday life. When your boss, your instructor, or a family member asks you a question that you do not know the answer to, you locate relevant information, analyze your findings, and share your results. Locating, analyzing, and sharing information are key steps in the research process, and in this chapter, you will learn more about each step. By developing your research writing skills, you will prepare yourself to answer any question no matter how challenging.

Reasons for Research

When you perform research, you are essentially trying to solve a mystery—you want to know how something works or why something happened. In other words, you want to answer a question that you (and other people) have about the world. This is one of the most basic reasons for performing research.

But the research process does not end when you have solved your mystery. Imagine what would happen if a detective collected enough evidence to solve a criminal case, but she never shared her solution with the authorities. Presenting what you have learned from research can be just as important as performing the research. Research results can be presented in a variety of ways, but one of the most popular—and effective—presentation forms is the research paper . A research paper presents an original thesis, or purpose statement, about a topic and develops that thesis with information gathered from a variety of sources.

If you are curious about the possibility of life on Mars, for example, you might choose to research the topic. What will you do, though, when your research is complete? You will need a way to put your thoughts together in a logical, coherent manner. You may want to use the facts you have learned to create a narrative or to support an argument. And you may want to show the results of your research to your friends, your teachers, or even the editors of magazines and journals. Writing a research paper is an ideal way to organize thoughts, craft narratives or make arguments based on research, and share your newfound knowledge with the world.

Write a paragraph about a time when you used research in your everyday life. Did you look for the cheapest way to travel from Houston to Denver? Did you search for a way to remove gum from the bottom of your shoe? In your paragraph, explain what you wanted to research, how you performed the research, and what you learned as a result.

Research Writing and the Academic Paper

No matter what field of study you are interested in, you will most likely be asked to write a research paper during your academic career. For example, a student in an art history course might write a research paper about an artist’s work. Similarly, a student in a psychology course might write a research paper about current findings in childhood development.

Having to write a research paper may feel intimidating at first. After all, researching and writing a long paper requires a lot of time, effort, and organization. However, writing a research paper can also be a great opportunity to explore a topic that is particularly interesting to you. The research process allows you to gain expertise on a topic of your choice, and the writing process helps you remember what you have learned and understand it on a deeper level.

Research Writing at Work

Knowing how to write a good research paper is a valuable skill that will serve you well throughout your career. Whether you are developing a new product, studying the best way to perform a procedure, or learning about challenges and opportunities in your field of employment, you will use research techniques to guide your exploration. You may even need to create a written report of your findings. And because effective communication is essential to any company, employers seek to hire people who can write clearly and professionally.

Writing at Work

Take a few minutes to think about each of the following careers. How might each of these professionals use researching and research writing skills on the job?

  • Medical laboratory technician
  • Small business owner
  • Information technology professional
  • Freelance magazine writer

A medical laboratory technician or information technology professional might do research to learn about the latest technological developments in either of these fields. A small business owner might conduct research to learn about the latest trends in his or her industry. A freelance magazine writer may need to research a given topic to write an informed, up-to-date article.

Think about the job of your dreams. How might you use research writing skills to perform that job? Create a list of ways in which strong researching, organizing, writing, and critical thinking skills could help you succeed at your dream job. How might these skills help you obtain that job?

Steps of the Research Writing Process

How does a research paper grow from a folder of brainstormed notes to a polished final draft? No two projects are identical, but most projects follow a series of six basic steps.

These are the steps in the research writing process:

  • Choose a topic.
  • Plan and schedule time to research and write.
  • Conduct research.
  • Organize research and ideas.
  • Draft your paper.
  • Revise and edit your paper.

Each of these steps will be discussed in more detail later in this chapter. For now, though, we will take a brief look at what each step involves.

Step 1: Choosing a Topic

As you may recall from Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” , to narrow the focus of your topic, you may try freewriting exercises, such as brainstorming. You may also need to ask a specific research question —a broad, open-ended question that will guide your research—as well as propose a possible answer, or a working thesis . You may use your research question and your working thesis to create a research proposal . In a research proposal, you present your main research question, any related subquestions you plan to explore, and your working thesis.

Step 2: Planning and Scheduling

Before you start researching your topic, take time to plan your researching and writing schedule. Research projects can take days, weeks, or even months to complete. Creating a schedule is a good way to ensure that you do not end up being overwhelmed by all the work you have to do as the deadline approaches.

During this step of the process, it is also a good idea to plan the resources and organizational tools you will use to keep yourself on track throughout the project. Flowcharts, calendars, and checklists can all help you stick to your schedule. See Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” , Section 11.2 “Steps in Developing a Research Proposal” for an example of a research schedule.

Step 3: Conducting Research

When going about your research, you will likely use a variety of sources—anything from books and periodicals to video presentations and in-person interviews.

Your sources will include both primary sources and secondary sources . Primary sources provide firsthand information or raw data. For example, surveys, in-person interviews, and historical documents are primary sources. Secondary sources, such as biographies, literary reviews, or magazine articles, include some analysis or interpretation of the information presented. As you conduct research, you will take detailed, careful notes about your discoveries. You will also evaluate the reliability of each source you find.

Step 4: Organizing Research and the Writer’s Ideas

When your research is complete, you will organize your findings and decide which sources to cite in your paper. You will also have an opportunity to evaluate the evidence you have collected and determine whether it supports your thesis, or the focus of your paper. You may decide to adjust your thesis or conduct additional research to ensure that your thesis is well supported.

Remember, your working thesis is not set in stone. You can and should change your working thesis throughout the research writing process if the evidence you find does not support your original thesis. Never try to force evidence to fit your argument. For example, your working thesis is “Mars cannot support life-forms.” Yet, a week into researching your topic, you find an article in the New York Times detailing new findings of bacteria under the Martian surface. Instead of trying to argue that bacteria are not life forms, you might instead alter your thesis to “Mars cannot support complex life-forms.”

Step 5: Drafting Your Paper

Now you are ready to combine your research findings with your critical analysis of the results in a rough draft. You will incorporate source materials into your paper and discuss each source thoughtfully in relation to your thesis or purpose statement.

When you cite your reference sources, it is important to pay close attention to standard conventions for citing sources in order to avoid plagiarism , or the practice of using someone else’s words without acknowledging the source. Later in this chapter, you will learn how to incorporate sources in your paper and avoid some of the most common pitfalls of attributing information.

Step 6: Revising and Editing Your Paper

In the final step of the research writing process, you will revise and polish your paper. You might reorganize your paper’s structure or revise for unity and cohesion, ensuring that each element in your paper flows into the next logically and naturally. You will also make sure that your paper uses an appropriate and consistent tone.

Once you feel confident in the strength of your writing, you will edit your paper for proper spelling, grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and formatting. When you complete this final step, you will have transformed a simple idea or question into a thoroughly researched and well-written paper you can be proud of!

Review the steps of the research writing process. Then answer the questions on your own sheet of paper.

  • In which steps of the research writing process are you allowed to change your thesis?
  • In step 2, which types of information should you include in your project schedule?
  • What might happen if you eliminated step 4 from the research writing process?

Key Takeaways

  • People undertake research projects throughout their academic and professional careers in order to answer specific questions, share their findings with others, increase their understanding of challenging topics, and strengthen their researching, writing, and analytical skills.
  • The research writing process generally comprises six steps: choosing a topic, scheduling and planning time for research and writing, conducting research, organizing research and ideas, drafting a paper, and revising and editing the paper.

Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

My Speech Class

Public Speaking Tips & Speech Topics

717 Good Research Paper Topics

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Jim Peterson has over 20 years experience on speech writing. He wrote over 300 free speech topic ideas and how-to guides for any kind of public speaking and speech writing assignments at My Speech Class.

good and interesting research paper topics

Some examples of common research paper styles include:

  • Argumentative Research Papers
  • Persuasive Research Papers
  • Education Research Papers
  • Analytical Research Papers
  • Informative Research Papers

Your research essay topic may also need to be related to the specific class you are taking. For example, an economics class may require a business research paper, while a class on human behavior may call for a psychology research paper.

The requirements for your paper will vary depending on whether you are in high school, college, or a postgraduate student. In high school, you may be able to choose an easy topic and cite five or six sources you found on Google or Yahoo!, but college term papers require more in-depth research from reliable sources, such as scholarly books and peer-reviewed journals.

Do you need some help with brainstorming for topics? Some common research paper topics include abortion, birth control, child abuse, gun control, history, climate change, social media, AI, global warming, health, science, and technology. 

But we have many more!

On this page, we have hundreds of good research paper topics across a wide range of subject fields. Each of these topics could be used “as is” to write your paper, or as a starting point to develop your own topic ideas.

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How to Choose Your Research Paper Topic

The first step to developing an interesting research paper is choosing a good topic. Finding a topic can be difficult, especially if you don’t know where to start. Finding the Right Research Paper Topic

If you are in a class that allows you to choose your own term paper topic, there are some important areas to consider before you begin your project:

Your Level of Interest: Research papers are time-consuming; you will be spending countless hours researching the topic and related topics, developing several primary and secondary sources, and putting everything together into a paper that is coherent and accomplishes your objectives. If you do not choose a topic you are passionate about, the process will be far more tedious, and the finished product may suffer as a result.

Your Level of Experience: Being interested in a topic is great, but it is even more helpful if you already know something about it. If you can find a topic that you already have some personal and/or professional experience with, it will vastly reduce the amount of research needed and make the whole process much easier.

Available Information on the Topic: Be sure to choose a topic that is not only interesting but also one that has numerous sources available from which to compile your research. A researchable topic with several potential sources gives you access to the level of information you need to become an authority on the subject.

Your Audience: An interesting topic to you may not necessarily be interesting to your professor or whoever is grading your research paper. Before you begin, consider the level of interest of the person(s) who will be reading it. If you are writing a persuasive or argumentative essay, also consider their point of view on the subject matter.

As you begin researching your topic, you may want to revise your thesis statement based on new information you have learned. This is perfectly fine, just have fun and pursue the truth, wherever it leads. If you find that you are not having fun during the research phase, you may want to reconsider the topic you have chosen.

The process of writing the research paper is going to be very time consuming so it’s important to select a topic that is going to sustain your interest for the duration of the project. It is good to select a topic that is relevant to your life since you are going to spend a long time researching and writing about it. Perhaps you are considering starting your own business or pursuing a career in politics. Look through the suggested research paper topics and find one in a category that you can relate to easily. Finding a topic that you have some personal interest in will help make the arduous task a lot easier, and the project will have better results because of your vested interest.

Our List of Research Topics and Issues

Affirmative action, health, pharmacy, medical treatments, interpersonal communication, marketing and advertising, barack obama, discrimination, bill clinton, hilary clinton, computer crimes and security, cosmetic surgery, controversial, criminal justice, donald trump, easy/simple, environment, family violence, foreign policy, gambling and lotteries, the lgbtq community, generational conflict, gun control, hate crimes, immigration, middle east, maternity/paternity leave, natural disasters, police work, population explosion, pornography, prisons and prisoners, prostitution, ronald reagan, student loan debt, teen issues, women, mothers, what, why, and how, relationships.

We compiled an exhaustive list of topics that would make excellent research papers. The topics are specifically organized to help you find one that will work for your project. Broad topics are headed, and then below them are narrowed topics, all to help you find an area to focus on. The way we have organized the topics for research papers can save you lots of time getting prepared to write your research paper.

We have topics that fit into categories that cover such areas as education, environmental sciences, communication and languages, current events, politics, business, criminal justice, art, psychology, economics to name just a few. Simply get started by choosing the category that interests you and peruse through the topics listed in that category and you’ll be well on your way to constructing an excellent research paper.

Be sure to check other topics ideas: persuasive speech topics , argumentative speech topics , policy speech topics . We also have some sample outlines and essay templates .

  • What limits are responsible?
  • What limits are realistic?
  • How to protect abortion doctors, pregnant women, and the protection of abortion clinics vs. the right to protest
  • Partial birth abortion
  • Scientific evidence vs. definition of viability
  • Stem cell research
  • Unborn victims of violence
  • Relative equality has been achieved vs. serious inequities continue
  • Can racial balance in business, education, and the military be achieved without policies that promote Affirmative Action
  • Reverse discrimination
  • NOW, National Organization for Women
  • No government support vs. fairness to parents who pay twice for education
  • Separation of church and state vs. religion’s contribution to the public good
  • Placement by age vs. placement by academic ability
  • Mainstreaming students with disabilities vs. special classrooms for their special needs
  • Required standardized tests for advancement vs. course requirements only
  • National standardized tests vs. local control of education
  • Discrimination in education
  • Multicultural/bilingual education vs. traditional basics
  • Teacher competency tests vs. degree requirements only
  • Teacher’s needs/demands vs. teaching as a service profession
  • Policing schools
  • School’s responsibility vs. parental responsibility for school violence
  • Drug and alcohol abuse, pregnancy, suicide
  • Zero tolerance toward violence vs. toughness with flexibility
  • Permit corporal punishment
  • Exams often do little more than measure a person’s ability to take exams. Should exams be outlawed in favor of another form of assessment?
  • Should teens in the U.S. adopt the British custom of taking a “gap year” between high school and college?
  • In some European schools, fewer than 10% of students get “As”. Is there grade inflation in the U.S.? Why so many “As” for Americans?
  • Education and funding
  • Grade inflation
  • No Child Left Behind Act: Is it working?
  • Home schooling
  • Standardized tests
  • Are children smarter (or more socialized) because of the Internet?
  • Should the federal government be allowed to regulate information on the internet?
  • How has the music industry been affected by the internet and digital downloading?
  • How does a search engine work?
  • What are the effects of prolonged steroid use on the human body?
  • What are the benefits and hazards of medical marijuana?
  • How does tobacco use affect the human body?
  • Do the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks?
  • What are some common sleep disorders and how are they treated?
  • What are the risks of artificial tanning or prolonged exposure to the sun?
  • Should thin people have to pay Medicare and other health costs for the health problems of obese people? Should obese people have higher premiums?
  • Low carbohydrate vs. low fat diets
  • Benefits of weight training vs. aerobics
  • How much weekly exercise is needed to achieve lasting health benefits
  • Health websites give too much information
  • Psychological disorders, such as cutting and self-harm, eating disorders, Autism, Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, ADD, Asperger Syndrome
  • Are we taking it too far by blaming fast food restaurants for obesity? When is it individual responsibility and when is it appropriate to place blame?
  • Should companies allow employees to exercise on work time?
  • Steroids, Antibiotics, Sprays; Are food manufacturers killing us?
  • Alternative medicine
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Causes of eating disorders, society’s portrayal of women
  • Eating disorders statistics
  • Down’s syndrome
  • Birth control
  • Dietary supplements
  • Exercise and fitness
  • Heart disease
  • In vitro fertilization
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Investigate the history and authenticity of ADHD and ADD.
  • Organic foods
  • Prescription drugs
  • Vegetarianism
  • Learning disabilities
  • Schizophrenia
  • Coma recovery: techniques, successes, new strategies.
  • What are the primary types of cancer, and in what ways are they related?
  • Investigate the success ratio of holistic and non-medical cancer treatments.
  • Is Alzheimer’s inevitable? Examine theories regarding its prevention.
  • What forms of physical degeneracy are seen as linked to aging?
  • Investigate the connections between emotional stability and physical well-being, and provide evidence as to how the two may be related.
  • Investigate differences in rates of injury recovery and overcoming illness based on cultural parameters.
  • Examine the modern history of viral epidemics, researching what is known about the emergence of deadly viruses.
  • Examine how congenital heart disease may be treated, and how it differs from other forms of heart disease.
  • Is occasional depression a natural state to an extent, and is society too eager to treat this as a disorder?
  • Investigate Sociopathy, determine biological and psychological roots, typical patterns, and potentials of treatment.
  • How are compulsive behaviors determined as such? Explore examples of anal retention and expulsion, OCD, etc., as offering accepted criteria.
  • Research and analyze the nature of codependency as both a normal state of relations and as an unhealthy extreme.
  • Investigate the history and practice of electroshock, analyzing how and why this extreme treatment came to be widely used.
  • Hoarding: symptoms and treatments, causes, types of hoarding
  • Limits on extraordinary, costly treatments vs. doing everything possible
  • Nutritional/alternative therapy vs. mainstream medical treatment insurance coverage for alternative treatment?
  • Government grants for alternative treatment research?
  • Health superiority of alternative treatments?
  • Assisted suicide vs. preservation of life
  • Governmental insurance requirements
  • Should there be a national database to track controlled substances (i.e., OXYCODONE) or should it be a state issue?
  • Should parents avoid vaccinating their children?
  • Decline of communication due to technology
  • Online social networks and their influence
  • Impact of texting and cell phones
  • How do men and women communicate differently using body language, and why does it matter (in dating, the workplace, and social circles)?
  • Limitations of the media
  • Marketing to children
  • Sexual innuendos in marketing
  • Global marketing trends
  • Should certain kinds of ads be banned in the interest of health/morality/annoyance – alcohol, cigarettes, prescription meds, etc…?
  • Children’s programming and advertising
  • Most controversial political ads
  • Media response and public outcry to political ads
  • Campaign funds and their relation to political advertising
  • Domestic policy
  • Separation of church and state
  • Judge nominations and make up of supreme court
  • Congressional opposition to presidential nominees/filibusters
  • Affirmative action
  • Erosion of civil liberties vs. protection against terrorism
  • Patriot Act One and Two
  • Most developed nations have universal health coverage. Why doesn’t the U.S., the wealthiest nation, have it?
  • Tax cut as economic stimulation
  • Needs of the states vs. needs of the individuals
  • Budget deficits and deficit spending
  • Rich vs. poor
  • Protection of victims vs. freedom of speech/rights of the accused
  • How to improve race relations
  • Women still earn only 75 cents for every $1 a man earns. Explain why.
  • Discrimination in the workplace: analyzing issues for today’s corporations.
  • Gender discrimination
  • Interracial marriage
  • Should government impose restrictions on what kinds of foods can be served in school cafeterias?
  • Pros and cons of school uniforms.
  • Do children learn better in boys-only and girls-only schools?
  • Charter schools
  • Prayer in schools
  • Rights of the individual vs. community safety (or campus safety)
  • Funding for research
  • U.S. obligation to third world countries
  • Manufacturing of generic drugs vs. U.S. pharmaceutical companies
  • How contagious diseases “jump” from animal hosts to human
  • What treatments are available to people infected with HIV and are they effective?
  • Right to privacy of a child with AIDS vs. safety of other children
  • Limits for campus safety vs. personal freedom
  • Implications on violence and crime
  • Issues with binge drinking
  • Should the U.S. lower the drinking age to 18?
  • Leniency because of condition vs. community safety
  • Revoking drivers license vs. being able to attend classes and work
  • Age discrimination of violators
  • Animal rights vs. medical research
  • Should it be illegal to use animals for sports and entertainment?
  • Humane treatment of animals vs. factory farms
  • Animal welfare in slaughter houses
  • Animal protection vs. business, employment interests
  • School prestige vs. academic standards
  • Should shoe companies be able to give away free shoes and equipment to high school athletes?
  • Should college athletes be paid?
  • Doping in sports
  • What are the effects on children whose parents push them in sports?
  • Steroids: Should they be legalized?
  • Title IX: Has it helped women’s sports? Has it harmed men’s sports?
  • Social effects of team sports
  • Needed in public school library/curriculum?
  • Needed in entertainment industry?
  • Needed on the Internet?
  • Should parents censor textbooks and other literature for children in schools?
  • Parental filters on the Internet. Does censorship actually increase curiosity and use of pornography?
  • How is internet censorship used in China and around the world?
  • How has United States censorship changed over the decades?
  • Democratic kingmaker, influence on political succession
  • Impact of global initiative
  • Influence on fundraising
  • Influence as Secretary of State
  • Foreign policies
  • Influence on women
  • ACT or SAT score requirements
  • Promotional techniques, such as 1st time scholarships
  • 4 year vs. 2 year colleges
  • College admission policies
  • College tuition planning
  • Distance education
  • Diploma mills
  • Online porn vs. freedom of speech
  • Stalking, invasion of privacy vs. reasonable access
  • Hacking crimes–workable solutions?
  • What are the latest ways to steal identity and money?
  • From where does spam email come and can we stop it?
  • How do computer viruses spread and in what ways do they affect computers?
  • Cyber security
  • Securing Internet commerce: is it possible in today’s arms’ race of hackers and evolving technology?
  • Is downloading of media (music, videos, software) infringing on the rights of media producers and causing economic hardships on media creators?
  • Should media producers prosecute students and individuals that they suspect of downloading copyrighted materials?
  • Programs such as SPOTIFY and PANDORA
  • Copyright Law
  • Age limitations on surgery
  • Addiction to surgery
  • Demand for beauty by society
  • The dangers of breast implants for teenagers
  • The cost of cosmetic surgery
  • Plastic surgery
  • Weight loss surgery
  • Are surgeons “scissor happy,” and are surgeries widely unnecessarily
  • Negative texting, instant messaging, email
  • Is cyber-bullying as bad as face-to-face?
  • Kinds of punishment for cyber-bullying
  • Media response
  • Should the state or federal government put laws into place to prevent bullying?
  • Is homosexuality a choice, or are people born gay?
  • Evolution vs. Creationism.
  • Should “under God” remain in the Pledge of Allegiance?
  • Is healthcare a right or a privilege?
  • Fossil fuels vs. alternative energy.
  • Transgender bathroom policies.
  • Capitalism vs. socialism.
  • Should parents be allowed to spank their children?
  • Should sanctuary cities lose their federal funding?
  • The pros and cons of gun control.
  • Should the U.S. continue drone strikes in foreign countries?
  • Was the U.S. justified in going to war with Iraq?
  • How to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • The pros and cons of animal testing.
  • Do pro athletes have the right to sit during the national anthem?
  • Incarceration rates in the U.S.
  • Technology and the criminal justice system.
  • Police brutality and minorities.
  • Should the police wear body cameras?
  • In what circumstances should the death penalty be allowed?
  • Should we have stiffer penalties for drunk driving?
  • Should those who text while driving be put in jail?
  • White-collar crime and punishment.
  • Criminalizing protests and activism.
  • The rise of wrongful convictions.
  • Mutual consent vs. exploitation
  • Campuses with “no touch” policy
  • Drugs associated to Date Rape
  • Violence and Rape
  • Government support vs. parental financing
  • Benefits vs. harmful effects
  • Trump’s unconventional presidential campaign.
  • The psychology of Donald Trump.
  • Who is behind Trump’s political rise?
  • Donald Trump and evangelical voters.
  • Donald Trump the businessman.
  • Trump’s war on the press (aka “fake news”).
  • The Trump Organization and conflicts of interest.
  • The border wall and illegal immigration policy.
  • Global warming and climate change policy.
  • Trump-Russia collusion.
  • The rapid rise of “The Resistance.”
  • Trump’s legislative agenda; e.g., health care, tax policy, deregulation, etc.
  • Trump’s “America First” trade and foreign policy.
  • The case for (or against) the Trump presidency.
  • Punishment vs. treatment
  • Family reactions
  • Social acceptance
  • Community safety vs. legalization
  • United States military involvement in Colombian drug trade?
  • Drug legalization
  • Abstinence Program: Do they work?
  • Should the federal government legalize the use of marijuana?
  • What is the true key to happiness?
  • What is the cause of America’s obesity crisis?
  • Why sleep is necessary.
  • Are plastic bottles really bad for you?
  • How to encourage people to recycle more.
  • How 3D printers benefit everyone.
  • How do GPS systems on smartphones work?
  • How have oil spills impacted the environment?
  • Verbal vs. nonverbal communication.
  • The accuracy of lie detector tests.
  • How Bill Gates and Steve Jobs changed the world.
  • The pros and cons of hitchhiking.
  • The PC vs. the Mac.
  • What causes tornadoes?
  • Pollution, air, and water
  • Endangered species
  • What are the risks of climate change and global warming?
  • Rain forests
  • Alternative energy
  • Alternative fuel/hybrid vehicles
  • Conservation
  • Deforestation
  • Greenhouse effect
  • Marine pollution
  • How have oil spills affected the planet and what steps are being taken to prevent them?
  • Sustainability of buildings
  • Recycling programs
  • Cost of “green” programs
  • Wind turbines
  • Landfill issues
  • Renewable fuels
  • Radioactive waste disposal
  • Soil pollution
  • Wildlife conservation: what efforts are being taken to protect endangered wildlife?
  • Excessive burden on industries?
  • Drilling for oil in Alaska’s ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge)
  • Gasoline consumption vs. SUV’s popularity
  • Wildlife protection vs. rights of developers
  • Clean air and water standards–weakened vs. strengthened
  • What are the dangers of scuba diving and underwater exploration?
  • Should the use of coal be subjected to stricter environmental regulations than other fuels?
  • Is global warming a hoax? Is it being exaggerated?
  • How much is too much noise? What, if anything, should we do to curb it?
  • Protecting victims vs. rights of the accused
  • Women who kill abusive husbands vs. punishment for murder
  • Marital rape?
  • How to protect children vs. respect for parental rights
  • Children who kill abusive parents
  • Child abuse–workable solutions?
  • Child abuse
  • Domestic abuse
  • Organic farming vs. mainline use of chemical sprays
  • How to best protect the environment; conservation
  • Family vs. corporate farms
  • Food production costs
  • Interventionism?
  • Third world debt and World Bank/International Monetary Fund
  • Military support vs. economic development of third world countries
  • Human rights violations
  • European Union in competition with the U.S.
  • Unilateralism
  • Relevance of the United Nations
  • Neocon role in foreign policy
  • Christian right influence on foreign policy
  • Pentagon vs. State Department
  • Nation building as a policy
  • Arms control
  • Obama’s National Strategy for Counterterrorism
  • Control of al Qaeda
  • Drawdown of U.S. Armed Forces in the Middle East
  • Cats vs. dogs: which makes the better pet?
  • My pet can live forever: why I love animal clones.
  • According to my social media profile, my life is perfect.
  • Football vs. baseball: which sport is America’s favorite pastime?
  • Starbucks vs. Caribou: whose coffee is better?
  • What does your dog really think of you?
  • Why millennials deserve lower pay.
  • What makes people end up with so many mismatched socks?
  • How to become a research paper master.
  • How reading Tuesdays with Morrie can make you wiser.
  • Easy way to earn revenues vs. social damage
  • Individual freedom vs. social damage
  • Do lotteries actually benefit education or is it a scam?
  • Can gamblers ever acquire a statistical advantage over the house in casino games?
  • Should there be a constitutional amendment that allows gays and lesbians to legally marry?
  • Adoption rights?
  • Need special rights for protection?
  • College campus response
  • Gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender
  • Gay parenting
  • Elderly to share in the tax burden vs. government support of elderly
  • Future of social security
  • Job discrimination
  • Child rearing
  • Employment issues
  • Generational differences
  • Community and police safety vs. unrestricted right to bear arms
  • NRA (National Rifle Association)
  • 2nd Amendment
  • Do states that allow citizens to carry guns have higher or lower crime rates?
  • Community safety vs. freedom of Speech
  • Punishment inequities
  • Persecution of alternative lifestyles
  • Church Arson: Hate crime?
  • Prevention of hazing
  • Greek organizations and rituals of hazing
  • Statistics of death or injury due to Hazing
  • High Schools and Hazing
  • What happened during the Salem witch trials?
  • How did trains and railroads change life in America?
  • What may have occurred during the Roswell UFO incident of 1947?
  • What Olympic events were practiced in ancient Greece?
  • How did Cleopatra come to power in Egypt? What did she accomplish during her reign?
  • What are the origins of the conflict in Darfur?
  • What was the women’s suffrage movement and how did it change America?
  • How was the assassination of Abraham Lincoln plotted and executed?
  • How did Cold War tension affect the US and the world?
  • What happened to the lost settlers at Roanoke?
  • How did Julius Caesar affect Rome?
  • How did the Freedom Riders change society?
  • What was the code of the Bushido and how did it affect samurai warriors?
  • How did Joan of Arc change history?
  • What dangers and hardships did Lewis and Clark face when exploring the Midwest?
  • How are the Great Depression and the Great Recession similar and different?
  • What was the Manhattan Project and what impact did it have on the world?
  • Why did Marin Luther protest against the Catholic Church?
  • How did the Roman Empire fall?
  • How did the black plague affect Europe?
  • How did Genghis Khan conquer Persia?
  • How did journalists influence US war efforts in Vietnam?
  • Who is Vlad the Impaler and what is his connection to Count Dracula?
  • Who was a greater inventor, Leonardo di Vinci or Thomas Edison?
  • What was the role of African Americans during the Revolutionary War?
  • What was Britain’s view of India during British rule?
  • What were the factors in the China-Tibet conflict?
  • Research and analyze the emergence of the Catholic Church as a political force following the collapse of the Roman Empire.
  • Investigate Dr. Eileen Powers’ claim that the Roman Empire was lost primarily due to an inability to perceive itself as subject to the change inevitable to all governments, or her “force of nature” theory.
  • Explore and discuss the actual cooperation occurring through the centuries of Barbarian conquest of Rome.
  • Examine the differences and similarities between Western and Eastern concepts and practices of kingship.
  • Investigate and explain the trajectory of ALEXANDER THE GREAT’s empire, with minimal emphasis on personal leadership.
  • To what extent did commerce first link Eastern and Western cultures, and how did this influence early international relations?
  • Research and analyze how Japan moved from a feudalistic to a modern state, and how geographic isolation played a role in the process.
  • Analyze the process and effects of Romanization on the Celtic people of ancient England: benefits, conflicts, influences.
  • Overview of British dominance of Ireland, Wales, and Scotland! How was this justified in each case, and what motivated the attempts over centuries of rebellion and failure?
  • Investigate the known consequences of Guttenberg’s printing press within the first 30 years of its invention, and only in regard to the interaction between European nations.
  • Identify and analyze the point at which the Reformation became fused with European politics and nationalist agendas.
  • To what extent did Henry VIII promote the Reformation, despite his vigorous persecution of heretics in England?
  • Trace and discuss the uses of papal power as a military and political device in the 14th and 15th centuries.
  • Research the city/state of Florence from the 13th to the 16th centuries, discussing how and why it evolved as so fiercely republican.
  • Compare and contrast the Russian Czarism of Peter, Elizabeth, and Catherine with the monarchies of England and France in the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • Investigate the enormous significance of Catholic Orthodoxy as the dominant faith in Russia, and its meaning and influence in an empire populated by a minimal aristocracy and predominant serfdom.
  • To what extent did Philip II’s religious convictions shape European policy and conflict in the 16th century?
  • Trace the path leading to the convocation of the Estates in France in the late 18th century, leading to the Revolution. Assess political and social errors responsible.
  • What eventually ended serfdom in Russia, and why were numerous attempts to end it by the Czars in power consistently unsuccessful?
  • Research and report on how England was transformed in the 19th century by the industrial revolution and the advent of the railroad.
  • Compare and contrast the consequences of the industrial revolutions in England and America in terms of urbanization.
  • What were the circumstances leading to World War I, and how might the war have been averted?
  • Assess the Cold War of the 20th century in an historical context: can any parallels be made between this conflict and other ongoing tensions between major powers in earlier centuries?
  • Analyze Roosevelt’s decisions in implementing the New Deal, beginning with the closing of the banks. Suggest alternative strategies, or reinforce the rationale of the actions.
  • What architectural marvels were found in Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire?
  • What was the cultural significance of the first moon landing?
  • Food programs
  • Welfare reform
  • Governmental supplementation
  • Homeless: urban restrictions vs. needs of the destitute
  • Workable solutions?
  • Realistic limits vs. openness toward people in need
  • English as official language vs. respect for diversity
  • Should illegal immigrants be made legal citizens?
  • Access to public school and public programs for Illegal Aliens
  • Policing borders–workable solutions?
  • Employment and/or taxation for Illegal Aliens
  • International trade
  • Democratization
  • “Shock and awe”
  • U.S. occupation vs. liberation
  • Iraqi run vs. U.S. puppet state
  • Oil and Gas prices-Control of resources
  • Effective self-government
  • War on Terrorism
  • Is America winning or losing the War? What is the measurement of success? Have the benefits outweighed the costs?
  • Parental leave for both parents
  • FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act)
  • Bonding time
  • Preemptive strike policy
  • Precision weapons
  • Intelligence reliability
  • Afghanistan – a success or stalemate
  • Should the U.S. have mandatory military conscriptions? For whom?
  • Governmental support
  • Preparedness
  • School emergency plans
  • Community warning systems
  • Damage costs
  • U.S. presidential elections should be decided by the popular vote, rather than the Electoral College.
  • The minimum wage should be increased to provide a “livable” wage for working families.
  • There should be stiffer penalties for those who commit animal cruelty.
  • School vouchers increase competition and create better quality schools.
  • The corporate tax rate should be lowered to create more jobs.
  • Social Security should be privatized.
  • Human torture should be banned in all circumstances.
  • Affirmative action is still needed to ensure racial and gender equality.
  • The U.S. dollar should go back on the gold standard.
  • Euthanasia and assisted suicide should be outlawed.
  • Police brutality vs. dangers that police face
  • Racially motivated brutality?
  • Politician’s right to privacy vs. the public’s right to know
  • Amount of money going into presidential campaigns
  • Views on abortion, gay marriage, and other controversial topics
  • Political debates throughout history
  • Third-party candidates at presidential debates
  • Rights of religious citizens vs. freedom from imposition (e.g. prayer in schools)
  • Religious motivation for political involvement vs. cultural pluralism
  • Christian Right’s influence on foreign policy
  • How serious? Causes? Workable solutions?
  • Funding abortion as a form of birth control in third world countries?
  • What would happen globally if the demand for natural resources is greater than the supply?
  • Limitation of social deterioration vs. freedom of speech
  • Definition of Pornography
  • Child Pornography
  • Building prisons vs. alternative sentencing
  • Adjusted sentencing for lesser crimes
  • Community service
  • Diversion Programs for inmates
  • How does the prison population in America compare to other nations?
  • Prostitution laws in the US and abroad
  • Benefits and drawbacks to legalizing prostitution
  • Psychological effect on prostitutes and former prostitutes
  • Sex slavery, buying and selling
  • Should the government be allowed to wire tap without permission?
  • What limitations, if any, should be applied to the paparazzi?
  • What medical information should be confidential? Who, if anybody, should have access to medical records?
  • Does the public have a right to know about a public figure’s private life?
  • Privacy rights
  • Do harsher punishments mean fewer convictions?
  • Date rape: consent vs. exploitation
  • Drugs-Rohypnol, GHB, KETAMINE
  • Legalization of Date Rape Drugs
  • Recently, a 17-year-old boy was sentenced to 10 years in prison for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl. Are statutory rape laws patronizing to girls and discriminatory to boys?
  • Acquaintance rape
  • Is there one true religion?
  • Freedom of religion
  • Offer distinct reasons why the Bible should be studied as literature, removed from religious significance.
  • From Hollywood to the White House: the political rise of Ronald Reagan.
  • The Great Communicator: how Reagan captured the hearts of Americans.
  • 1981 assassination attempt: bullet wound leaves Reagan inches away from death.
  • Reagan appoints the first female Supreme Court justice.
  • The PATCO breakup and decline of the labor unions.
  • Tax cuts and “Reaganomics.”
  • The “Iran-Contra” scandal.
  • Reagan, Gorbachev, and the end of the Cold War.
  • The final act: Reagan’s Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis and long goodbye.
  • How has airport security intensified since September 11th, 2001?
  • Identity theft
  • Homeland Security: Are we safer since the creation of this department?
  • Should the government use invasive pat-downs and body scans to ensure passenger safety or are there better methods?
  • Is arming Pilots a good idea?
  • What responsibilities do secret service agents have?
  • Student loan scams
  • How to avoid student loan debt
  • Managing student loan debt
  • Driverless cars and the future of transportation.
  • Breaking the glass ceiling: the impact of the women’s rights movement.
  • How seniors contribute to societal well-being.
  • How disabled individuals are viewed by society.
  • The modern-day civil rights movement.
  • Has technology made us more detached from society?
  • The role of religion in society.
  • In today’s society, are we better off or worse off than previous generations?
  • Popular music and its impact on the culture.
  • Class and geographical segregation.
  • The differences between life in the city, suburbs, and/or rural areas.
  • Should parents be able to create designer babies?
  • Should microchips be implanted inside humans for better tracking and security?
  • Will smart watches eventually replace cell phones?
  • The pros and cons of being a global citizen.
  • Progressive vs. flat tax
  • Excessive taxes vs. worthwhile programs
  • Is text messaging contributing to teen illiteracy?
  • How eating disorders impact teens.
  • Tablets vs. textbooks.
  • Do standardized tests improve teen education?
  • Are violent video games contributing to juvenile delinquency?
  • Is English literature relevant for today’s teens?
  • Should the HPV vaccine be required for teen girls?
  • Do teachers inflate grades so students can pass?
  • Should advertisers be allowed to target teens?
  • How to encourage teens to stop smoking.
  • The causes and effects of teen alcohol and drug abuse.
  • How to prevent teen pregnancy.
  • Osama Bin Laden
  • World Trade Center and Pentagon bombings
  • September 11, 2001
  • War on terrorism
  • Afghanistan
  • Bioterrorism
  • Al Qaida: Has U.S. policy actually spread terrorism rather than contained it? Will it get better or worse? Why and how?
  • Can terrorism ever be justified?
  • What kind of person becomes a suicide bomber?
  • What were the circumstances surrounding the death of Osama Bin Laden?
  • Has the Patriot Act prevented or stopped terrorist acts in America?
  • How is text messaging affecting teen literacy?
  • Cell Phones: How have they changed us socially?
  • Does the Information Age mean we are losing important historical information?
  • Where did hip-hop music originate?
  • A day in the life of a Buddhist monk.
  • How does the brain store and retrieve memories?
  • What life is like inside an ant colony.
  • The case for and against the existence of UFOs.
  • Can virtual reality adequately substitute for actual reality?
  • Are dreams hidden messages or just hot air?
  • Why do people collect the most ridiculous things?
  • When is it time to get out of an abusive relationship?
  • The art of pretending to care.
  • Public attitudes toward veterans
  • Health issues caused by service time
  • Organizations for veterans
  • Governmental support for veterans
  • What programs are available to help war veterans get back into society?
  • Iraq War Vets: Are they being cheated on medical benefits?
  • Is there a glass ceiling?
  • Obstacles to women running for political office?
  • Should women be priests, pastors, ministers, and rabbis?
  • What differences, if any, are there in children who are raised by stay-at-home moms and working moms? Does society today still discriminate against working mothers who wish to have flexible work schedules?
  • Should stay-at-home moms get a salary from the government?
  • Why do we sleep?
  • How do GPS systems work?
  • Who was the first person to reach the North Pole?
  • Did anybody ever escape Alcatraz?
  • What was life like for a gladiator?
  • Are there any effective means of repelling insects?
  • How is bulletproof clothing made?
  • How was the skateboard invented and how has it changed over the years?
  • What is life like inside of a beehive?
  • Where did hip hop originate and who were its founders?
  • What makes the platypus a unique and interesting mammal?
  • What is daily life like for a Buddhist monk?
  • How did gunpowder change warfare?
  • How were cats and dogs domesticated and for what purposes?
  • What do historians know about ninjas?
  • Are humans still evolving?
  • What is the curse of the pharaohs?
  • Why was Socrates executed?
  • How did ancient sailors navigate the globe?
  • How are black holes formed?
  • How do submarines work?
  • Do lie detector tests accurately determine truthful statements?
  • How does a hybrid car save energy?
  • What ingredients can be found in a hotdog?
  • How does a shark hunt?
  • How does the human brain store and retrieve memories?
  • How does stealth technology shield aircraft from radar?
  • What causes tornados?
  • How does night vision work?
  • What causes desert mirages, and how do they affect wanderers?
  • What are sinkholes, and how are they formed?
  • What are the major theories explaining the disappearance of the dinosaurs?
  • Should we reform laws to make it harder to get a divorce?
  • Divorce rates
  • Family relationships
  • Family values
  • Race relations
  • Marriage and Divorce
  • A view of home life and its effect on child development
  • How 4 generations in the workplace can work together.
  • Building positive employee relationships
  • Modern work environments
  • Business leadership
  • Workforce regulations
  • Small business and taxation
  • Corporate law
  • Issues in modern Human Resources: Are today’s corporations patronizing employees or being more responsible for them?
  • Cultural conflict in globalization: Strategies for successfully establishing a presence in a foreign culture
  • Corporate abuse: How can executives so successfully manipulate corporations criminally?
  • Identifying stakeholders in non-public companies: is the corporate responsibility the same as for public offerings?
  • Devise a new model of leadership for business today, incorporating elements of existing leadership models and theories.
  • Examine the actual impact of social media as a business promotion instrument.
  • Devise a scenario in which traditionally unethical business practices may be justified.
  • Should newspaper reporters be required to reveal their sources?
  • Do the media (both print and broadcast) report fairly? Do they ever cross the line between reporting the news and creating the news?
  • Does news coverage favor whites?
  • What steps are involved in creating a movie or television show?
  • How have the film and music industries dealt with piracy?
  • Media conglomerates/ownership
  • Minorities in mass media
  • Portrayal of women
  • Reality television
  • Television violence
  • Media portrayals
  • Sensationalized media
  • Examine the issues of responsibility in pharmaceutical companies’ promotion of drugs in the media.
  • Forensic science technology
  • What are the current capabilities and future goals of genetic engineers?
  • What obstacles faced scientists in breaking the sound barrier?
  • What is alchemy and how has it been attempted?
  • What technologies are available to home owners to help them conserve energy?
  • Nuclear energy
  • Clean energy resources
  • Wind energy: Is wind energy really that inexpensive? Is it effective? Is it practical?
  • What are the dangers and hazards of using nuclear power?
  • Investigate Freud’s contributions to psychology as they exist today: what value remains?
  • Are there gender foundations to psychology and behavior that are removed from cultural considerations? To what extent does gender actually dictate thought process?
  • To what extent is sexual orientation dictated by culture, and is there an orientation not subject to social and cultural influences?
  • Investigate the psychological process in group dynamics with regard to the emergence of leaders and the compliance of others.
  • Compare and contrast Jung, Freud, and Adler: explore distinctions and commonalities.
  • What is “normal,” and to what extent is psychology reliant on culture to define this?
  • Research and assess the effectiveness of radical psychotherapies and unconventional treatments.
  • Research the concept of human will as both a component of individual psychology and a process or element removed from it.
  • To what extent is self-image influenced by culture in regard to eating disorders? Are external factors entirely to blame?
  • How do centuries-old beliefs of madness and dementia relate to modern conceptions of mental illness?
  • Is psychology itself inevitably a non-science in that virtually any theory may be substantiated, or is there a foundation of science to the subject to which all theorists must conform?
  • Examine Euripides and gender psychology: what do the Trojan Women and Medea reveal?
  • Using three characters, explore Chaucer’s insight into human behavior in The Canterbury Tales.
  • Identify the true relationship between Dante and Virgil in The Divine Comedy, emphasizing Dante’s reliance on the poet.
  • Research and discuss the English fascination for euphemism and ornate narratives in the 16th century, beginning with John Lyly.
  • Examine any existing controversies regarding Shakespearean authorship, citing arguments on both sides.
  • Analyze similarities and differences between Marlowe and Shakespeare in regard to Tamburlaine and Titus Andronicus.
  • Defend or support Bloom’s assertion of Shakespeare as the “inventor of the human being.”
  • To what degree are Shakespeare’s plays influenced by, or reflective, of the Elizabethan era? Identify specific cultural and national events linked to at least 3 plays.
  • Analyze the unusual construction of A Winter’s Tale in regard to transition from comedy to drama. Is this valid? Does the transition benefit or harm the play?
  • Support the belief that Shakespeare is representing himself as Prospero through evidence, or similarly refute the belief.
  • Why was extreme violence so popular in English Reformation drama? Cite Marlowe, Kyd, Webster, and Shakespeare.
  • Analyze the metaphysical in Donne’s poetry: is it spiritual, existential, or both?
  • What is Shelley seeking to say in Frankenstein? Support your answer with passages from the novel.
  • Compare and contrast Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina with Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, noting the characters of the heroines.
  • It is argued that Dickens failed when he turned to serious, romantic narrative in his novels. Using Copperfield, Great Expectations, and Dombey and Son, defend or refute this claim.
  • Assess Dickens’ stance as a moralist in Bleak House and Hard Times: to what extent does he seek reform, and to what does he comment on the human condition?
  • Was the Harry Potter phenomenon warranted by quality of storytelling or more a matter of public receptivity at the time combined with media exposure?

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20 thoughts on “717 Good Research Paper Topics”

How has music evolved? How has music effected history? Music of the past vs music of the present. How has the music industry effected the music’s quality?

Do you think abortion is legal? Why they do abortion?

Why are people instinctively afraid of animals that are not mammals?

Should abortion be legalized? Should domestic abuse and child abuse victims be granted clemency for killing their abuser?

Jewish holocaust and its contribution to European History, specifically Germany

What is the most popular college in the United States?

The Black Knight: Space Waste or Alien Satellite? The Moon Landing: Real or Hollywood Hoax? Have We Become Too Politically Correct? Paranormal Research: Real? Fake? Should it be offered in college? Who really was Jack the Ripper? Can a zombie apocalypse truly occur? Who is the best or worst president of the USA? The Men in Black: real or hoax?

Why Marching Band is a sport.

Marching band is not a sport

how did aids start?

Topic : Alternative medicine Research question : Does the alternative medicine is safe and standardized Hypothesis : analyse the quality controle of alternative medicine formulations

Does our nostalgic music/childhood songs affect our present lifestyle, and in what ways?

reverse discriminations is still discrimination so there’s no such thing as that. like reverse racism isn’t a thing because that is still racism

Men on birth control and not women.

You forget the topic Islamophobia 😉

You should add a music section. Is Muzio Clementi overshadowed by Mozart? The Toccata and Fugue in D- really wasn’t written by Bach The use of the “Dies Irae” in cinema Why is modern music so repetitive and simple compared to classical music?

I want to do a research project on Education

I want to research but not get a perfect topic help me give me a best topic about current affairs

Topic: History. Are the Crusades oversimplified? where they justified? If so, how? Topic: Current affairs. Is the term “conspiracy theory” used to discredit any non-mainstream, controversial opinions. Topic: Gun control. Does limiting magazine capacity for firearms have any effect on gun crime? Are high-capacity magazines ever necessary for self-defense? Topic: Economics. Are minimum wage laws necessary to guarantee “decent”, or do the laws of supply and demand automatically ensure that?

Are women funny?

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  • 1 Definition: Research Topics
  • 3 Finding Research Topics
  • 4 Defining Good Research Topics
  • 5  Academic Writing Research Topics
  • 6 Examples of Research Topics
  • 7 In a Nutshell

Definition: Research Topics

A research topic is the subject or issue that forms the basis of a research paper. It is a well-defined subject the researcher is interested in. While it can be phrased as a question, you are not required to do so. The research then addresses the question. It can also be phrased both as a research question and a hypothesis.

The purpose of this article is to help you understand what research topics are and how they are used to conduct good research. It covers the characteristics of good research topics and provides information on and techniques for coming up with good research topics. The importance of research topics in academic writing is explained and some examples of research topics are listed.

How do you come up with ideas for suitable research topics?

Rational thinking and creative techniques are two key methods you can use to generate research ideas. You can use either of the techniques, or you can try both techniques and then decide which one you find more useful for your research. Both concepts are further discussed later in this article.

Tip: Keep in mind that you’ll need to create research questions based on your topic later on. It’s ok to begin with vague ideas, but later on you need to focus on a specific area of a topic.

How do you refine your research topic ideas?

The Delphi technique is an approach that many students have found useful for refining their research ideas. Usually, a number of people who are interested in the research are assembled to help generate and select more refined research topics. The next step will be to refine your ideas into a research question . This will require you to conduct more research on topics or issues that you found interesting during the research topic deciding phase.

What are the main elements of a research proposal?

A research proposal consists of an appropriate title that mirrors the content of the proposal; a background to justify the need for the research; a statement on what the research is meant to achieve. A section should be dedicated to the methods that will be adopted in order to achieve the research objectives within the expected timeframe. A section on resource considerations will help convince the reader about the feasibility of the research. This should be followed by a list of references.

How do you propose research topics?

Writing helps organize our ideas into coherent statements. For inspiration, check out some research proposal examples . The draft proposal should be discussed with your thesis supervisor or teaching assistant, who can advise you on how the proposal might be amended if necessary, so that the research can be completed within the proposed timeframe. This is of particular importance if the proposal has to be presented for funding or to an academic research committee for approval.

What defines a good research topic?

You’re the one who has to write the research paper or thesis, so it’s vital that YOU are interested in the topic that you’re researching. Your research topic shouldn’t be too vague. But in saying that, you also need to ensure that you’re able to write about your topic within the time frame provided. You need to be able to formulate your topic into a research question and a thesis statement later on.

Finding Research Topics

If done using a systematic approach, finding research topics can be interesting. A range of techniques involving rational as well as creative thinking are used to find a research topic.


This is a problem-solving technique which generates best results when carried out as a group, but it can also be done by an individual. Find a quiet place to work and write down a problem related to your lectures or curriculum that interests you and of which you have some prior knowledge.

If you are working in a group, members can make suggestions regarding the problem. Make a note of all the suggestions and include all contributions, however wild they may be. Review each of the suggestions with your group and select the ones that most appeal to you. You may arrange discussing these suggestions with your thesis supervisor or the teaching assistant in charge of your project if needed.

Inspiration from your teachers

Project leaders, teaching assistants, professional groups and practitioners in your field will often have project ideas they are happy to share. They might come up with good research topics; just be sure to document the ideas discussed so that you can remember to further explore them on your own.

Literature search

Articles, reports in academic journals and books are all useful sources of research topics. Review articles in particular often indicate areas in which more research may be required. Most recently published reports usually contain recommendations which can form the basis of further research, and books contain an overview of research already undertaken, in addition to suggesting new areas to explore for further research.

Relevance trees

This technique involves generating topics on the basis of a broad concept. Each of these topics constitutes an independent branch which can yield sub-branches. You can review these sub-branches and combine some of them to come up with new research topics. Your project supervisor or teaching assistant may be of help in selecting a final topic from the shortlisted ones if you cannot narrow your choice down to one topic.

Looking inwards

Another way of finding a research topic is to review the assignments you have already completed and select the ones you received good grades in. These are the ones in which you are already knowledgeable. They will provide you with possibilities for further research.

Defining Good Research Topics

A good research topic should have well defined objectives. Selecting a research topic which you will be interested in for the entire research duration is vital. If you have only a vague interest in the topic, it will be difficult to excel on such a topic. Therefore, you should have a genuine interest in the research topic you have chosen.

Make sure you possess the required skills and resources, or that you can develop the capability that is necessary to research the topic within the given timeframe. You should also be certain that you can access the data you will need to collect in the course of the research. Your research topic should be one you are familiar with and in which you have the capacity to produce a well-written final research report.

TIP: Always use transition words to properly connect the sentences and paragraphs in your thesis or essay.

 Academic Writing Research Topics

Academic writing is a style of expression that defines the intellectual boundaries of a discipline. It focuses on a research problem and conveys an accepted interpretation of concepts or complex ideas. Research topics are germane to academic writing because they proffer rigorous arguments that can convince a reader to reconsider previously accepted position on a topic.

Examples of Research Topics

Previous research topics can serve as sources of inspiration for finding new research topics. Some examples of different research topics include: • Media and communications research paper topics • Environmental research paper topics • Business research paper topics

Depending on your field of study, looking at past projects can be very helpful in your search for new research topics.

In a Nutshell

  • A research topic is a well-defined subject the researcher is interested in.
  • Rational thinking and creative techniques are two methods you can use to generate research ideas.
  • Techniques to find good research topics include brainstorming, getting inspiration from your teachers, using relevance trees, doing a literature search or looking inwards.
  • You should have a genuine interest in the research topic you have chosen.

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