top of page
  • Mary Beth Davis

Choosing a Research Topic

When it comes to choosing a topic for a research paper, the choice of which route to take can seem daunting.

Overwhelming though a project may be, starting research on a new project doesn't have to be an unwelcome challenge, but rather an opportunity to learn something new! As a researcher and writer, you have the opportunity to explore less frequented realms of knowledge, and that's a pretty cool thing, right?

In order to help you on your journey, here are a couple quick tips on how to go about choosing a research topic!

1. Use the 3,2,1 method:

This is a good way to figure out the heart of what you may want to research by working backwards, so to speak. Start out with a very big, broad topic (Step 3). For example, let's say you want to write about "organic matter." That's a broad and general topic. Now, moving on to 2, you should be more specific about your topic. Narrow your scope to something a little more specific. So from just "organic matter" your topic could now be "compost and soil." From here, you should move onto Step 1, which is where you become very, very specific about what you want to say in your topic. From just "compost and soil" you should focus in on something very specific regarding that topic, like "soil nutrients released by organic matter decomposition." Step 1 is all about detail!

2. Think of the who, what, when, where, and why questions:

WHY did you choose the topic? Do you have a personal connection/opinion regarding this topic?

WHO is affected by the topic? Who is affiliated with it?

WHAT are the major questions for this topic? Are there a number of different views or opinions? Is there any debate/controversy related to this topic?

WHERE is your topic relative to a local, national, or international importance?

WHEN is/was your topic important? Is it comparable to other time periods? Is it current or historical in nature?

Happy researching!

bottom of page