To figure out a paper topic:
Are there any guidelines or restrictions for choosing your paper topic?
Your professor might limit your topic choice by:
- geographical location (eg. Canada, Europe)
- age range (eg. teenagers, adults)
- time periods (eg. modern/recent, Victorian Age),
- or other specifications that relate to that course or project
Has your instructor provided a list of topic ideas?
Sometimes your instructor will provide a list of topics to choose from or as examples. Occasionally you will be able to pick your own topic from your own interest with no restraints whatsoever.
If your professor has provided a list of topics to be chosen from or as examples:
Consider what topics are of interest to you (if you are interested in your topic you are more likely to want to research and work on it!)
If you aren’t interested in any of the options (and have received permission from your professor to choose another topic), then see if any of the examples could be more interesting if you change an aspect of them.
For example, instead of writing about:
- Foster care children’s behaviour in public schools
You might be more interested in:
- The happiness of adults who were raised in foster care
Creating a topic yourself
Writing about a topic related to your course:
If you want to or have to create a topic from nothing but the course information, then look through your notes and readings for a topic that interests you.
Here are some example scenarios:
- The Canadian History course only briefly covered slavery, but you want to know more
- A nutrition course only discussed diabetes type 2 extensively, and you are interested in how type 1 is treated
- In an engineering course, you discussed solar power, but you are interested in whether solar power is feasible for middle-income families in Canada
- In a political science or diversity and social justice course, you find you are interested in the effect of women as country leaders compared to men
Writing about a topic that could be anything:
If you are allowed to write about any topic whether or not it pertains to the course information, then you will need to think about what interests you.
Here are some questions that could help you find a topic:
- What is your major?
- What was a class you really enjoyed that you would like to know even more about?
- What are your hobbies?
- Are you a dancer and interested in the mental health of professional dancers?
- What are your experiences?
- Have you experienced racism and are interested in how BIPOC are treated differently in academia?
- Have you always wondered about a certain ______ (sport, illness, job, hobby, person, etc.)?
If you need help with your research topic, contact your subject librarian or your professor!