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Research Paper Topic for College Essays

How to Choose a Research Paper Topic for your Essay

The first step when writing an essay is to come up with a research paper topic for college essays. Coming up with a research topic takes a lot of time but it is a very important step in the writing process. A research topic guides the direction of the research.

Before choosing a research paper topic for college essays, consider these;

  1. As you chose your topic of study, it is always good to come up with a number of topics then select one. For the elimination, you can start by assigning marks to each topic according to relevance and ease of writing. After you are done, eliminate those that have low score and select the one with the highest mark. For better understanding, explain to someone why you have assigned the particular marks to each suggested topic.
  2. Consider the time needed to complete your work. How broad is your topic? How much time does it need to collect a substantive amount of data? Take into account that you need time to analyze, write and present the paper. You also need time to collect the data. How much time do you need? You do not want to spend all your time on the essay. There are things that you also need to concentrate on like your course work.
  3. For ease of writing the research, you need to ensure that there is enough material to use as reference. The more available and accessible the material is, the easier the process will be. The material can either be printed or available electronically on the web.
  4. If you are given a question that you do not understand, do not start to write before you understand it. Talk to your supervisor or anyone who will offer you better understanding. Having a complete understanding of the research paper topic for college essays makes writing very easy.
  5. When it comes to obtaining data, you must keep the time frame in mind. As you begin to write. Allocate time for every stage of the writing. It will help you to focus your efforts on one activity before moving to the next. It will also save you from been caught up by the deadline. Depending on whether the data is qualitative or quantitative, choose a method that does not exceed the allocated time. Your supervisor can help you in this. There is also some software for statistical analysis packages available for use.
  6. Each research paper topic for college essays requires you to use primary sources like recently published materials. Some may not be easy to come by or to locate where they have been stored. In such cases, talk to your school librarian. They will help you
  • By giving you the exact location of the material in the library
  • They will tell you if the material is already available in the library
  • The staff will also give you alternatives to other material that are helpful in your research
  • The librarians can also link you with other libraries that have the materials that you need
  • They can also inform you of organizations that have endless sources of the material you are looking for
  1. A research topic should challenge you to show off your skills. If it is too easy, when it will not bring out your exercise in the area. Again, if the topic has been tackled several times before, it will be cliché to your reader. Select a topic that challenges your thinking and brings out your advanced skills. Again, you do not have to select a topic that you cannot tackle. Otherwise you will get stuck or write an in-cohesive essay.
  2. As you are already aware, you will be assigned a supervisor to offer you assistance throughout your writing. Note that different supervisors limit their assistance to a particular point. Find out from the beginning the kind of help you are likely to get from your supervisor. This will also prepare you psychology. Remember to consider the expertise of your supervisor as you choose a topic. It is not good to choose a topic that your supervisor is not well conversant with. It is also not advisable to select a topic that your supervisor is in conflict with. Chose something that your supervisor has an interest in. It is a good to know the support that your supervisor is willing to give so that you can know when to approach him for help. It shapes your expectations for the whole process.

If you are given an option to choose the supervisor you want, select one

  • that is approachable
  • one you are comfortable with
  • willing to offer support and you can attest from earlier relationships with students
  • one that has an interest on your topic of study
  • should be a staff member


  1. Your research has an impact on your CV especially if you chose to put it. If the topic relates to your course closely, then it can give you a better standing when it comes to looking for work. You never know, an organization might just decide to implement your findings.
  2. Discuss your topic of choice with your supervisor, postgraduates in your course and relevant authorities. This is so that you can avoid taking a topic that does not go well with your course or a risky one. They will help you make an informed choice on the topic.
  3. Look at what other students in your course have written in the past. Consider the standard and style. Learn from the past work but do not copy everything, you need to come up with your original work. If anything looks intimidating, do not feel pressured, writing a research paper is a process and with time you will also be able to come up with great topics.
  4. Do not forget that you are the one writing the paper so do not allow the opinions of other people to influence you. Chose something because you like it, are comfortable with it and are ready to write it.


Steps towards selecting a good research paper topic for college essays

  • Brainstorm for ideas.

Come up with different topics that come to your mind. Consider your interest and its relationship to your course. Choose the topic that you feel most comfortable with. Not so common but one that provides sufficient information on the topic selected.

  • Background information

After you decide on the research paper topic for college essays, then take a background look at the topic. Look at it from a broad sense of views then narrow it down and see how you can focus it on your topic. This information will help you when you start writing. It will also enable you to know if it is something that you want to write about. If you do not get information on the topic, seek for help from your librarian.

  • Concentrate on your topic

It needs not be too narrow or wide. If it is wide, then it will be too general without any useful information. A narrow topic limits the extent to which you can discuss it.  If the topic you have chosen is already broad, you can narrow it down by including aspects like;

  1. Culture
  2. Geographical area
  3. Discipline
  4. Time frame
  5. Or population group.

Very recent, broad, popular or locally confined topics are very difficult to research.

  • Take note of keywords used

When looking for background information, you will notice words that are used together with your keyword or the descriptions given to our topic. Write down the synonyms, narrower or broader terms for the topic and the key concepts. These are the words you will use when researching the topic later during the writing process.

  • Flexibility

During your research you may notice changes that need to be made to your research paper topic for college essays. You may either find it too broad or narrow. Do not shy away from the changes as it will help make the process easier. The information provided might direct your research in a different way. Keep an open eye on the depth, length and the due date for the paper as you make the changes.

  • Putting focus on your topic

In the beginning, you start with a keyword then you develop into a statement. To make the final draft of the research paper topic for college essays, expound on the statement in a focused way. If you want to talk about the environment, the topic may focus on erosion in Malawi’s river beds. Environment is broad but the specifications on the location of study narrows it down and makes it more specific.

A research paper topic for college essays is a guide for how you will write your paper. A good tic will attract attention to our paper and earn you good marks. Just remember that whatever the topic must be coherent to the contents of your paper.

Please read about our writing of college research papers on any essay topic.

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