An instructor's list of suggested topics is a good place to start when choosing a term paper topic. Your instructor is an expert and knows the issues.
Remember that these ideas are often broad suggestions. They may need to be narrowed in order to make them feasible term paper topics.
Your course syllabus and/or textbook gives you an overview of the course content or subject area and can be a good source of ideas.
Don't forget to check any associated lists of required and optional readings for more ideas.
To find specialized encyclopedias in your subject area, add the word encyclopedias to a Keyword search in the library catalogue as follows:
Note: The * searches for the root word with any ending (e.g., environment, environments, environmental, etc.).
To access journal indexes, click on the Databases tab on the library's home page, click on the appropriate subject category, read the descriptions of the indexes, and then select the index that suits your needs. You may need to search more than one index.
All of the above can be good springboards for identifying issues on which to base a term paper. Be careful, though. If your instructor is expecting you to cite scholarly research, you may have trouble finding scholarly research related to a recent news item. Radio/TV news, newspapers, magazines, documentaries, and online media sites are NOT scholarly material.
A recent newspaper item may, however, be used as an example for a broader topic. For instance, there would have been no scholarly books or articles on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill just after it happened, but there would have been scholarly material on oil spills in general.
Do these people have any relevant ideas? Are the ideas feasible for a term paper? Can they give you any leads to important documents or authors?
Keep a journal while you are in the process of choosing and developing your term paper topic. Any time you think of, read about, or hear about an idea that would work for a term paper, record it in your journal. Write down any leads you get, as well as your thoughts as you investigate these topics. Your journal will help you remember your ideas and will serve as a basis for comparing the potential of various topics.
A clear, strong, well-focused thesis statement is the foundation of a clear, strong, well-focused term paper. This is an important step. Be sure to take the time to do it well.
If you are examining online resources, don't forget to check out our information on evaluating websites.
Below are some resources to help you make sense of research methods, including research design, application, and communication: