How to start researching your term paper: gather the ideas

Finding a topic for your research paper, you should make sure to incorporate the guidelines of your instructor and, of course, stay within the context of the subject matter of the course. Make sure that you think “outside of the box” with your paper, while still keeping your topics relevant to the study material, in order to achieve best results. You should consider choosing a topic that will include current events, medical studies that are up to date, or even how a particular topic affects local residents or students. Experts at Cornell University Library say that posing a question in order to stimulate ideas for research paper topics will help ensure that it relates and also helps to set up the main concepts.

First of all, you should choose a topic that you have some interest in. Choosing a topic that will keep your interest will make the research less difficult to focus on and understand and it will also reflect in your writing. If you’re not interested, it will be obvious. If you are interested, your words will come to life.

Do some preliminary writing and then adjust the scope of the topic. Narrow down your big topic into smaller ones, and then choose one of those smaller ones. Then, have three main concepts for your topic. If, on the other hand, you have gotten your topic too focused and narrow, you will need to broaden it in order to get your hands on enough research material.

Do your initial research, making sure that you have enough credible resources to gather accurate and informative writing material. Make sure that you keep in mind the length of the research paper to help you to decide the total number of sources you will need.

Create a list of words that fit in with your topic. Doing this will help you to find topics that may be related, and therefore, more study material you can write about.

Form a main statement about your chosen topic and figure out what your main concepts will be in order to outline the rest of your paper. Make sure that all of your subtopics are relative to your main statement.

Finally, confirm your selection of topic with your instructor to be sure that he or she approves it before you complete the paper.


Make sure that you make notations about where you are getting your information as you go along, so that you’re not scrambling to figure out your resources at the last minute.

Provide proper citations, in the paper and at the end of the paper in the format that the instructor prefers. The different types of writing: Modern Language Association (MLA), American Psychological Association (APA), and Chicago Style all have very specific guidelines for how to format and present your references.