Many students prefer being told exactly what to research instead of being released to do whatever they come up with. Instead of fretting about this, though, students can find ways of successfully coming up with their own topics; and, when that is done, they will enjoy writing the paper much more! Here are some tips for coming up with your own research idea.
1) Look over class notes
Has anything in the class interested you thus far? Have you come across anything that your professor talked about that you would really like more information on? Well, then you have your topic! Look and think back to the various things your teaching has discussed to see if there has been anything you’d be interested in researching more. For example, if in a history class you look back and see you have discussed WWII, perhaps you’d then like to pick a specific part of the War to research: concentration camps, Hitler, American involvement, etc. The point is to find a broad category, then slowly narrow it to something very specific.
2) Do a search on the internet
After you have a broad category, whether from class notes or somewhere else, do an internet search for other bits of information on it. You don’t have to go crazy with research just yet; instead, look at sites like Wikipedia.org and see if any information from your broad category interested you. So, you might be looking up WWII and then see that the page talks about a specific concentration camp that you would like to focus on–now your research idea is even more specific!
Brainstorming is a great tool for coming up with creative research ideas. You can brainstorm by free-writing, thinking out loud, or even creating a web of ideas. No matter what you do, the point is to foster ideas and come out with a clearer direction of where you would like to go.
4) Ask the teacher/professor
Your professor is there to help you. For the most part, I would assume they would be fine with providing you with some type of direction for what you should research. So, don’t be nervous and just go up and ask them! The worst that can happen is they tell you they cannot assist you (which I highly doubt will happen!).
5) Search for books on the different topics
Go to Amazon.com and search your broad topic. Chances are a lot of different materials will come up–which is good! Look at some of the titles and click on those you find interesting. From there, you can look at their table of contents, which might provide you with something you would like to research in depth on its own. Also, many of the Amazon books allow you to read the introduction or even search for keywords and then give you a free preview of a few pages; when you do that, you should be gathering more and more data, thus getting you to an ultimate research topic that you would like to do.