Good research paper topics for college students

Good research paper topics for college studentsYou’ve considered our tips, you’ve learned all the tricks, but you’re having trouble just getting started on your research paper. Good research paper ideas take creativity but sometimes choosing a research topic is the most difficult part, so we’ve gathered some ideas for research paper topics for college students. It’s easier said than done: avoid choosing broad research subjects that interest you, and try instead to narrow your focus when selecting research paper topics.

It’s easy to get caught up in something that you’re passionate about, but if that means discussing the broadest of topics, such as simply “Barack Obama,” then you’re never going to be able to dive deeply into anything specific. You’ll only be skating over the top of a hundred concepts covering his early years, government experience, and his presidency. Instead, begin with that research subject and try to find one specific issue that you can develop into a solid thesis. Consider writing about the impact of just one of the changes he’s made in office or perhaps the way one group has been affected by his presidency.

Chapter 3 of Schaum’s Quick Guide to Writing Great Research Papers explains the difference between a subject and a topic. “Recall that a subject of a research paper is the general content […] subjects are broad and general. The topic of a research paper, in contrast, is the specific issue being discussed.” Schaum then gives example that if your subject is “Animal Rights” you may make your topic “If zoos are cruel rather than educational” or “if testing medical procedures/drugs on animals should be increased or decreased.”

Looking for specific ideas to get your brain in gear? Questia has a section devoted to Research Topics broken into 14 major categories. Select one of these broad ideas and you’ll be connected straight to thousands of good research topics linked directly to the over 77,000 books and 4 million articles on our virtual shelves. Questia shows the most popular research topics in each category, making it easy to zero in on a great subject. Upon clicking a topic link, Questia pulls the most relevant books and articles for those topics. It also offers related books and articles you may not have considered. Looking through these may just spark some creativity and get you started on writing your research paper.

Some schools even offer suggestions of interesting research topics on their library or Writing Center websites. The topics page at Midway College gives an alphabetical list of topics and gives one suggestion of where to take those ideas.  Another excellent resource is the book 99 Jumpstarts to Research: Topic Guides for Finding Information on Current Issues. This book is intended to teach good research habits and offers readers search terms, food for thought, and background and statistics on 99 interesting research topics.

In a blog post called How to Choose Good Essay or Research Paper Topics, author Ishmael Ahab advises, “One thing that you can do is to browse at your old essays or research papers. Look for old topics that you can reinvent. You can also look for ideas on those old essays or research papers that were not given enough focus. Those ideas can be used as the main topic for your new essay or research paper.” Not everyone saves all of their old papers, of course, but you can brainstorm previous ideas that you’ve had for topics. Review these old, dusty ideas and reimagine them into a research topic that better suits your class’s focus and your since-developed academic abilities.

Once you’ve chosen a good research paper topic that you know can hold up to your own interrogation, the real research can begin. Have a look back at some of our other helpful blog posts for help with how to write a research paper:
Back to school tips: How to write a research paper
Top 10 mistakes when writing a research paper

Leave suggestions in the comments section below with your own methods for brainstorming topic ideas for research papers, projects, blog posts, etc.!


14 replies
  1. Emasa Robert says:

    I discovered that you don’t your liberary do not contain more of engineering jounals / materia and books for research. How have you address this challange? As this is my line of focus.

    • Gary Jeppsen - Senior Product Manager of Questia says:

      Robert, Questia offers engineering books, journals, and articles and we are always adding new materials to the site. When I ran a subject search on “engineering” within Questia, I found more than 4,000 results. With regard to your search experience, I’d need some additional information about your search to answer questions specific to your search. Please contact us at if we can be of further assistance.

  2. Zdravka Kostova says:

    The papers on subjects and topics of research papers are very useful and very helpful for college and university students. I am going to recomend them to my colleagues and students.

  3. leo says:

    suggested title:
    “Research topics suggestions. …wait a minute: is this a Monty Phyton’s sketch”?
    best regards

    PS: the moment I’ll use my time reading lists instead of reading BOOKS and articles and then discussing them with my students I’ll give up researching and teaching..

  4. Keith says:

    Next we can do “How to write a Fairy Tale” by Propp. Seriously ,the elements are like a DNA chain, worth a look at.

  5. Rod White says:

    I would suggest the ‘Obama effect’ on crime would be a good research topic. I would also suggest that the research topic needs to be relevant to your studies and your future career prospects. A physics student wanting to research government policy would not be successful. It may also be a good idea to ask local employers for problems that they are having because working for them ‘for free’ to solve a problem will prove beneficial after your graduate.

  6. Mohammed says:

    I am glad to know that what you have recommended is what i have exactly done. A couple of days ago, i found a great topic in one of my old essays that i have not entirely covered and it was like a great idea to go deep into it. Knowing that you are suggesting the same thing gives me the feeling that i am in the right direction.
    NEVER LOSE A PAPER. Trust me, a great deal of information, you are familiar with, can come out of it.

  7. kipkirui richard says:

    please! please! help me on how to write project proposal on effects of unemployment on youth. i will appreciate if you do me that way thank you in advance

  8. Anonymous says:

    I found very interesting what you have send to me. Thank you for your effort ,and I will expect more from you. And at the same time if I you invite me to express my interest is related to Gender and Development books/Journals. Other wise I feel nice with your materials.

  9. Shuuya says:

    I am still looking for a research topic. i stuck so far i fail to choose between the most topics i have listed because i do not want to waste so much time. its studying purpose and due date is compulsory .


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