Get a head start on your term paper by browsing websites and news outlets for current trends. To help you decide, here are some sources for research topics and some ideas for term paper subjects, for each field of study.
For more advice on choosing a topic, Cengage Learning’s “Business Resources for Students” says to ask yourself: “Can the subject be properly covered? Consider whether you can adequately explore the subject in the number of pages you are allowed. …You may not have enough information to fill a longer paper if your subject is defined too narrowly.”
Art & Architecture
Websites such as architonic.com and ArtTrends.ca, as well as Questia’s Art & Architecture library, offer research ideas.
• How is the defunding of art classes in public schools affecting students?
• Recent forgeries discovered in museums and collections have fooled the “experts.” Does this hurt the market?
• How do devastating events (hurricanes, fires, civil war) influence a society’s art and culture?
For topic ideas, scroll through popular business magazine websites, such as Forbes, Money, Entrepreneur and Business Week. Contra Costa College also offers a list of business research topics.
• How will the political gridlock in Washington affect the economy?
• Is it ethical to exploit cheap labor overseas for developed countries’ goods?
• Corporations are gathering tremendous amounts of data on consumers. Is this an invasion of privacy or just giving the customer what they want?
Visit Edutopia.org and Education Week at www.edweek.org for trends in education and teaching.
• Is No Child Left Behind successful or does it place too much of a burden on schools?
• Is there bias or censorship in textbooks? Should one state (Texas) dominate textbook content for the whole country?
• Regarding the pros and cons of school voucher programs: Should government vouchers be given to pay for private school?
English & Literature
Literature lovers should check out NewYorker.com/online/blogs/books, LAReviewofBooks.org and Biography.com for information on popular books.
• Who are the recent winners of the Pulitzer Prize and what are their contributions?
• Plagiarism in the news (ex: columnists Margaret Wente and Fareed Zakaria) and how it affects all writers.
• Describe the gender imbalance in children’s literature; the majority of main characters are males (including male animal characters). In “Study finds huge gender imbalance in children’s literature,” by Alison Flood on Guardian.com, May 6, 2011: “The disproportionate numbers of males in central roles may encourage children to accept the invisibility of women and girls and to believe they are less important than men and boys, thereby reinforcing the gender system,” said the study’s authors.
Visit history websites for term paper ideas: USHistory.org, www.history.com and historymatters.gmu.edu.
• Some U.S. states (ex: North Carolina) want to impose religious law. Explain whether or not this is in line with the U.S. Constitution.
• How does a country’s melting pot and treatment of immigrants influence its culture?
• Apply the adage “history is written by the winners” to a period in history, and describe how our knowledge of events today would be different if the event were written by the losers.
Check out Psychology websites, associations and magazines for topic ideas: PsychCentral.com, PsychologyToday.com and American Psychological Association at www.apa.org.
• Describe the causes of bullying, recognizing bullying and ways to prevent it.
• There has been a decline in psychiatrists counseling patients and a rise of dependence on pharmaceuticals to treat mental illness.
• The rise of the antihero: Why are we drawn to the bad guys in society (D. B. Cooper) and popular culture (Tony Soprano, Walter White)?
Check out daily science news sites like ScienceDaily.com, ScienceWatch.com and DiscoverMagazine.com for trends in science.
• The biological effects of brain injuries in professional sports and the impact on the game.
• The effects of climate change and how countries need to adapt.
• Newly discovered moons and asteroids in the solar system and the possibilities for life.
For research topic ideas, visit the American Sociological Association at www.asanet.org, and Questia’s Sociology & Anthropology library for topics on discrimination, addiction, social movements, social psychology, gender issues, organized labor and more.
• The effects of the Internet culture on children who have grown up with it.
• Media bias: With Fox News and MSNBC, can news be truly fair and balanced?
• Why is there a rise in youth crimes, gang violence and school shootings?
What are your go-to tips when researching possible topics for your term paper?