So now you have a subject, and it's a lulu. The only problem is size—this baby's as big as a 747. So you narrow the subject into a topic by finding smaller aspects of the topic within the subject area to use as the basis of your research paper. First, let's make sure we're all on the same page when it comes to subjects and topics.
A subject of a research paper is the general content. A topic is the specific issue being discussed.
Your teacher likes your topic, your parents like your topic, your buddies like your topic. Even your dog likes your topic. The problem? You don't like your topic. So get a new topic!
A subject of a research paper is the general content. Subjects are broad and general. For example:
The topic of a research paper, in contrast, is the specific issue being discussed. Here are some possible topics for a research paper developed from the previous subjects:
Consider all facets of your subject as you develop topics. You may wish to speak to other people about the subject or just let your mind free-associate. Let those ideas bubble up!
To get that beast of a subject tailored to an appropriate size, try phrasing the subject as a question. You can also list subdivisions of the subject to create topics. Can't find subtopics? Consult card catalogues, reference books, and textbooks for ideas. Here are some examples:
|space exploration||Should the space program be drastically cut back?|
|social services||Is workfare working?|
|violence||Do violent video games, movies, and songs influence children to commit violence?|
|antidepressants||Are antidepressants being over-prescribed?|
|intelligence||Is intelligence determined by nature or nurture?|
So the porridge is too hot, the porridge is too cold. How can you make sure the porridge—and your topic—is just right? Try this checklist:
Here's where the rubber meets the road, you driving machine. You can't cut corners with this stage; answer all the questions to make sure you're on the right track.
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Well © 2000 by Laurie Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.