There are some important distinctions to be made before we proceed any further with this assignment. First, a research paper is not the report you did in middle school on the West Indies. There you may have consulted a few encyclopedias, a book or two, or maybe an internet source if you have recently graduated, but generally, you did not do too much more than cut and paste the information you found, and you most likely did not have to credit your sources (more on that later). Your main objective was probably breadth, not depth. So, unlike your earliest endeavors into research, this paper must NOT simply report.
You must have a thesis and it must be very narrow (defined). You are investigating in-depth (10-12 pages, not including the Works Cited page), not taking a book-length topic and skimming the surface. This paper MUST TAKE AN ANGLE. You must argue a point or aspect of your subject. This should not be a paper about abortion or the death penalty; rather, this should be a paper on a topic that greatly interests you. A couple examples from last year included the closing of Air Force bases, increasing prison term sentences for violent crimes, changing the speed limit, abolishing property taxes, and decreasing the number of visas allowed for foreigners to come into our country. These were all well-written papers, because the authors were invested in the subject matter and created very strong arguments/examples to support their thesis.
You must make use of a variety of sources, not just those you can easily download. That is not to say that you cannot rely exclusively on Internet sources, only that you have to make sure they are powerful sources. There are a number of problems with Internet sources that you should be aware of, with the most troublesome being credibility. Anyone can post a website on the WWW, and more and more people actually do a fairly professional-looking job of it. Remember too, that not much on the internet is older than about 15 years. While up-to-date material is great for some topics, there is a wealth of scholarly information that was written before 1990!
POSSIBLE TOPIC CHOICES The following topics are very broad and must be narrowed. They are the kind of topics you might want to choose – notice that there are no options for expository topics. Your topic must allow you take an angle, to prove or expose an aspect of it with which others might not agree. You do not have to choose one of the following topics; they are just examples of the kind of topic you can choose.
Computer privacy and identity theft Genetic engineering/research Athletic abuses or mismanagement Environmental science Problems in educational system Problems with or for the Disabled Healthcare/pain management Architecture and design News or entertainment media Reassessment of historical figure or event- to reassess means to look at again in a new light or in a wholly different way.
Research papers are investigative in nature. They usually have one of three purposes: to explain, to analyze, or to persuade. In this research paper, you will do all 3, but not necessarily all in the same amount. How much of each is your choice. In choosing a topic, try to avoid those topics that you “always wanted to know more about.” That may sound odd, but often students who choose those types of topics can only inform readers on the most general of levels. Choose a topic you know about already, or have an interest in, but wish to investigate further ………..