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Brainstorming interesting topics for a research paper

The purpose of brainstorming is to help you come up with unique ideas that will help and guide you in choosing an interesting topic for your paper. Without brainstorming you’re basically starting with nothing. You may feel a lack of inspiration and a load of anxiety about getting started on your research paper when you have absolutely no topic in mind.

From novices to professional writers, brainstorming is something that has generally worked for most people who have tried it. Of course, if you’re one of those people who would rather do anything else under the sun and avoid writing for as long as possible, you’ll really have to get your motivation to a higher level to get started. Here are a variety of brainstorming techniques:

  • Find some prompts and just start talking out loud with someone else about answers to the prompts. Have another person writing down notes as you discuss the prompts as well as alternate viewpoints on those prompts.
  • If you don’t have anyone to help you, look at a prompt and just start writing or typing as fast as the thoughts come into your head. Don’t correct anything just keep writing.
  • Take a topic and break it down into levels. Explore each level. Write down what you discover.
  • Look in the news and start asking questions about what happened. Find a current event and think of 20 questions to ask about it.
  • Find one idea and then look for 3 different perspectives on the level. It helps you to see all the possible angles.
  • Take an event or bit of information and apply these 6 approaches to it: describe it, compare it, analyze it, associate it, argue for or against it and apply it.

Look over everything you’ve done. Which activity gave you the most passion and excitement? What was the topic you were exploring when you felt these feelings? If the topic is still quite general, use some of the activities to break it down into smaller chunks until you find the one that just jumps out at you. You will know you’ve found the perfect topic for your research paper when you have that excitement that spurs you on to want to write.

If the above activities haven’t helped you narrow down a few golden topic ideas, start over in a different area. For example if you are writing a chemistry research paper and you’ve been searching for something in acid-base titration, try something totally different like the gas laws or precipitation reactions.

Some textbooks have interesting bits of research from history in the margins or at the end of each chapter. Find one that’s interesting and explore it a little. You’re bound to find a fabulous topic idea.