Topics & how-to pick ’em

It is not uncommon for a professor to give a writing assignment with few restrictions on a topic.  Choosing a topic is sometimes the hardest part of writing a paper because the options can seem endless and overwhelming! However, sufficient topic choice for a paper or speech can be detrimental to writing or performing well in a class.  Some of the worst blunders a student can make when selecting a topic are as follows: not choosing a topic of interest, choosing a topic with zero background knowledge, or choosing a topic that is inappropriate or does not apply to a particular assignment. So, to make choosing a topic less stressful, let’s break each of these categories down to help evaluate how to choose intriguing and fitting topics!

  1. Choose a topic you are interested in.

Keeping your interests or your field of study in mind is the best piece of advice I can give for choosing a topic.  Choosing a topic that you have little to no interest in will make researching that topic much more difficult.  If you enjoy your topic, you will enjoy doing the research.  Being interested in your topic will also ensure you experience a type of learning that will stick in your brain longer.

  1. Choose a topic you have some background knowledge on.

 It is a lot harder to take a side on an issue or to narrow down a topic if you know nothing about it.  Having previous knowledge on a subject can also be beneficial for the researching process because finding relevant information on a topic is much easier when you have an idea what you’re searching for.  Another thing to keep in mind is to consider choosing a topic you have already written or given a speech about.

DISCLAIMER: This does not mean to re-use an old paper or speech for a new class.  What this does mean is that it is okay to choose to repeat a topic AS LONG AS the method of approaching the subject and the content of the paper or speech is fresh.  For example, if you are interested in animal hunting but have already written a paper for one class about the history of hunting animals and how it evolved, you could choose to write about the same topic again, but take it in a new direction.  The new paper may cover a more specific part of hunting, like sport hunting or big game hunting, answering a moral question.  Should animal hunting be considered a sport? or Should sport hunting be illegal?  Or you may choose to do another research option, like how societal views of hunting animals change from one culture to another.  There are endless possibilities for how you can write about a single subject. Just be sure you are conducting novel research and writing about the subject in a new and innovative way for each assignment.

  1. Always choose a topic that is appropriate for the class and the assignment.

The class, the audience, and the assignment should always be taken into account when choosing a topic.  Your topic should always be relevant and interesting, while still applicable to the class.  If you are in a communication class, choose a topic relating to communication. Remember that you can even choose a topic that has been covered in class if you found it particularly interesting; just be sure to expand on what was covered in class, rather than restating information.  Most important of all, be creative with your topic and have fun!

written by Jaclyn H.

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One thought on “Topics & how-to pick ’em

  1. Pingback: Controversial Topics | The Draft

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