How to Select the Right Research Topic in 5 Easy Steps

Being able to choose suitable research topics is an important skill to have for any student. Not only is it the difference between writing a good paper and falling flat on your face, but it’s imperative if you want the process to run smoothly. In this article, we’ll cover how five stress-free steps can help you choose a research topic for a standout research paper.

The idea of writing a good paper can lead students to feel an enormous and looming weight hanging over their heads as time passes. However, if you follow a few crucial steps, choosing the right research topics can be quick, easy, and even fun. Let’s get started!

Rows of sociology books on bookshelves.

5 Steps: How to Choose a Research Topic

1. Brainstorm Some Research Topics

The first and probably the easiest step is to have a brainstorming session to see what topic is best for you. It’s best to find something that interests you, but you shouldn’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone a little bit. Look at what is going on in the news and see if anything sparks a creative burst of thought. Make a long list of possible choices and begin the selection process.

Here are ideas to get your brainstorm started (and yes, these are just some!):

History Research Paper topics

  • 20th century
  • 18th century history
  • Art history
  • 21st century history

Religion Research Paper Topics

  • Christianity and the Catholic Church
  • Monotheistic religions
  • Polytheism
  • Freedom of religion

Psychology Research Paper Topics

  • Body image
  • Gender roles
  • Eating disorders
  • Criminal psychology
  • Child abuse
  • Mental illness

Environmental Research Paper Topics

  • Environmental issues
  • Climate change and global warming
  • Greenhouse effect
  • Renewable energy
  • Nuclear energy

Sociopolitical Research Paper Topics

  • Gender inequality
  • Race inequality and race relations
  • Gun control
  • Socioeconomics
  • Affirmative action
  • Welfare reform

Education Research Paper Topics

  • Early childhood education
  • Homeschool learning vs. in person learning
  • Special education

Technology Research Paper Topics

  • The impact of information technology
  • Future of machine learning
  • Artificial intelligence
  • History of computer science
  • Data science

Health Research Paper Topics

  • Alternative medicine
  • Pharmaceuticals and prescription drugs
  • Health systems
  • Public health
  • Mental health

 2. Narrow Down Your List

Your next step in choosing a research topic is to start narrowing down your brainstorm list. Start the process of elimination. You might want to cross off topics that don’t actually fit with the parameters of the projects, have little in the way of sources, or simply don’t interest you.

You can also circle the topics that seem like they’d be the best fit for your assignment or even sound exciting to research. It’s also recommended that you start with a broad subject as the more widespread, the better. This will give you plenty of more niche topics to write about under that larger umbrella!

After narrowing it down, you should hopefully only have a few topics left to choose from so you can select from that list!

3. Get Super Specific

Once you have a broad subject, the next step is to get super-specific. This will help you determine whether or not your subject has depth and is worth perusing. If this step takes a little time and you find yourself changing your mind about your topic, don’t worry because once you nail this step, the rest will be easy.

The idea is to get your broad idea and then extract a particular element of that subject. Then, you have to take that aspect and make that even more specific. For example, if your topic is about music get specific by making it about blues music. And then get even more precise by making it about the effect and influence blues from rural Mississippi had on Chicago blues in the ’50s; this is how you make a paper unique as well as interesting.

4. Build Out Your Topic and Create an Outline

Once you have a specific topic you now need to define it as a question that will help you with the context of your paper. So, if your chosen topic is “The effect Mississippi Blues had on Chicago blues in the 50’s” You need to change it to something along the lines of: “How has rural Mississippi Blues influenced mainstream Chicago Blues.”

You should also consider writing an outline at this point. This will help you direct the actual research of the assignment and better prepare your thoughts. You won’t get halfway through the paper and realize you don’t know where to go next. You may also find that your niche topic doesn’t quite have as much to it as you thought, so you can always adjust at this stage in the game.

5. Run it By Your Professor

Before you really get into the in-depth research and writing, you may need to run your topic by your professor or teacher! This will help ensure that you’re meeting the guidelines of the assignment, not writing the same thing as another student, and are able to get assistance at a later date on the project.

Many professors will actually require you to choose your research topic, too, and explain why you chose it. Be ready to defend your selection! This is where an outline can help, too. You know where you intend to go with your research topic, so you can clearly explain it to your teacher.

Choosing a research topic can feel overwhelming at first, but it really doesn’t need to be. Breaking the work into these five steps can help you collect your thoughts, brainstorm ideas, and work within the guidelines of the assignments without the stress. By taking these steps, too, you can rest assured you have a solid topic that will turn into a solid paper!

Is this research paper related to your dream job? It could be a great asset for when you enter your future career! Use our Career Finder today to identify the best majors and courses that could help you make your dream career a reality.