Considering the fact that we live in a world with a 24-hour news cycle, choosing a topic for a research paper can be quite daunting. How do you pick from millions and millions of options? And what would you actually enjoy reading about and reflecting upon?
Although the topics are endless, there are a few key indicators that show whether you might want to avoid a particular topic. But, what topics should you avoid in writing a research paper? Let's pull back the veil.
By definition, a research paper requires you to do research. There must be sources available on the topic. So, unless you're a famous person, there might not be a lot of published material about yourself. You might, however, be able to include personal information about something like your ancestry. In this regard, you could look up family records or interview family members and historians.
What this all boils down to is appropriateness. Unless you can maintain an element of research and "fieldwork," you might want to reserve your personal stories for more colorful times, like when your teacher assigns a personal narrative essay. When that opportunity arises, be sure to follow these Tips for Writing a Personal Narrative Essay.
This might go without saying, but you can't write a research paper about a topic with no data. If you choose something too esoteric (like the color of Napoleon's socks or what Albert Einstein ate for breakfast), you probably aren't going to find a lot of detailed information about it. Thus, you won't have enough information to write a successful paper.
If it's outside your wheelhouse, it's outside your wheelhouse. It might seem like a fun challenge to research and convey something new to you. And, by all means, you should consider this. But, if it's starting to edge toward a topic that's too technical or will require too much self-teaching, try to stay away from it.
It'll leave you feeling frustrated when you should be enjoying the process of writing. Worst of all, it'll leave too many opportunities for you to state something in error because the topic isn't entirely within your area of expertise.
Continuing along the same theme, you also don't want to pick a topic that is too narrow in scope. Again, finding enough information to write your paper is going to be practically impossible.
You could, for example, easily write an informative essay on "what makes a diamond valuable." However, it would be a lot harder to find enough detailed information if your paper was about "what makes a one karat round F color diamond purchased in New York City valuable," because you have just narrowed the topic to become way, way too specific.
Swinging in the other direction, it is also possible that a topic will have too much information available and will also not be good for a paper. You'll find yourself going in too many directions, and unsure where to even begin. The essay will lack focus.
If you have too much data, or there are too many different things involved, you won't be able to go into any depth about them and your paper might not be a good one. For example, a paper about "causes of gang violence" is probably going to be a lot better of a paper than one broadly about "gang violence." The one about "gang violence" will just have too many possible things for you to write about, like causes, effects, amount, types, and more.
Some people may wonder if there are any specific topics to avoid because they might be "hot button issues." Generally speaking, unless you know for a fact that the person receiving the paper will be offended, writing about controversial issues can be okay. However, you need to remember that this is a research paper. As such, it should be fact-driven and as unbiased as possible.
You can't (and shouldn't) present your opinions or views on an issues - especially a hot button topic. That will turn your research paper into a persuasive essay. If you make sound and logical arguments supported by research and data, the reader of your paper should be able to appreciate its accuracy and validity of the research, even if they don't necessarily share the views espoused in the paper.
Abortion… The death penalty… Same-sex marriage… These topics are of the utmost importance in society today. So are bullying, gun control, and freedom of religion. However, they definitely fall into the "played out" category.
Public speaking professors have heard these informative or persuasive speeches delivered a hundred times. Teachers have seen these essay topics submitted time and time again. Unless you can offer a remarkable fresh perspective on these too-common topics, it's probably best to avoid them.
Scan the online newspapers. Look for something new and fresh - something that needs to be brought into the limelight that doesn't currently enjoy much attention.
Although these are geared toward persuasive or argumentative papers, check out these top 10 essay topics. Maybe you can draw from them to create a fact-driven, research-based analysis.
Although this seems like a lot of "no, no, no," there are actually a wealth of research paper topics available. Essentially, anything is fair game, as long as you pull back from over-familiarity or possibly offensive topics.