Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Research Paper Topics: Write What Interests You

Research Bar
Research Bar (Photo: Rice-Aron Library)
by Patrick Regoniel, PhD

While browsing the internet for research paper topics, you may find yourself stuck and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information available to you.

How will you be able to avoid information overload? Which research topics will you explore? What will you write about?

You have that mistaken notion that once you sit there in front of the computer, the answer will come. But you keep on your endless browsing with no clear direction in mind.

Sometimes you find yourself opening your emails, reading blogs, stumbles around interesting and not-so-interesting websites, playing games, or chatting with your friends. All of these in the hope that you might bump into something and come up with your research topic.

Why is this so? The reason is that you have not asked yourself first about what really interests you. What are those things that excite you or get your attention. In other words, write about those topics that gain your interest. But how will you know those things that interest you?

Here are steps on how to identify what you really want and at the same time arrive at topics that are worth pursuing.

Materials Needed

  • clean sheet of bond paper
  • pencil
  • marking pen
  • post-it note
  • a wall or anything you can post notes


Step 1. Make a list

Get a clean sheet of bond paper and pencil. Make a rapid list of words you have in mind. Anything goes. It could be a word or a phrase that represents an idea.

You need not make your list orderly. Write at the center, at the sides, at the bottom, anywhere you want. Just think and write freely. Do this for at least 30 minutes or until you have filled up the whole sheet.

It is best to do this on those times that you find your mind most active. Research findings on the human faculty reveal that those times come between 9 to 11:30 in the morning. The time, of course, varies between persons. So, suit yourself and find which time of the day works best for you.

Step 2. Identify which ones are measurable

If you have finished your statistics course, you should be able to spot which of those in your list are variables. Variables are those items that you can measure or are measurable.

Using a marking pen, write those words legibly and large enough to be seen from a distance on small (2.5 x 3") post-it notes. Post these words or phrases on a wall, a blackboard, whiteboard, or anything to hold your post-it notes. Leave it there for a while.

Step 3. Ponder the words or phrases on the wall

Pause for a few minutes and ponder the words or phrases you have posted on the wall. Bring together related words by removing them from the wall and putting them close together.

These will be the themes of your research paper. Each theme should have at least three words or phrases in it. Ponder which theme is most relevant to your field.

Step 4. Select from the group of themes

Which theme appeals to you most? Select one and isolate from the rest.

Step 5. Identify the cause and effect from the words or phrases in the theme

Arrange the words in the theme you have selected. Find out which one causes the other. Now, you have your dependent and independent variables. The effect is/are the dependent variable/s while the cause is/are the independent variable/s.

Step 6. Explore your research topic

You are now ready to undertake your literature review. Search the internet for related studies using the set of dependent and independent variables you have identified.

This should prime you up to narrow down further your research paper topic. As you go along reading related studies, be flexible. Your research topic will evolve and get refined through time. For more practical tips on research-related topics, visit

Article Source:,_PhD

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