Choosing a topic for your paper

Ask yourself:

Is the Topic too big?

(If this is a research paper, trace the history of mankind from 10 BCE to 1908. Include two personal interviews)

Is the Topic too small?

(Why does my little brother always wear blue socks?)

Your Topic should have some general interest and be related to the subject for which the paper is assigned (While I am personally interested if your brother wears blue socks because he is paying an homage to impressionist painters, it is unlikely that your English Teacher cares.)

Is my Topic appropriate for the academic level of my subject?

If you are studying Children’s Literature or are in Elementary school, a character profile of Richard Scary’s Lowly Worm, might be a good topic. If you are in AP English Lit, you might want to take another approach. Perhaps compare and contrast Lowly to his Dickensian Counterpart.

Will I be able to find enough sources for this topic?

Choosing a unique topic is a worthy endeavor but if your passion is the Chinese Theatre of the Absurd and there is exactly one thesis paper available for perusal at a California University and your Inter Library Loan skills are unreliable, perhaps

Do you have a genuine interest in this topic?

If you selected the topic because it has limited resources or has the shortest title, it is very likely that you will lose interest. If your paper is a major grade or a semester long project, you will want something that interests you.

Brainstorming and Writing a Thesis Statement

Once you have a narrow enough topic, you will take that topic and make a statement about that topic that you will try to prove.


A thesis statement:

  • tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.
  • is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of the paper might be World War II; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war.
  • makes a claim that others might dispute.
  • must be a complete sentence somewhere in your first paragraph that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.


A thesis statement is a work in progress.  As you learn more about your topic, your thesis statement may be altered and changed, but this MUST happen towards the beginning of the project.


How do I know if my thesis is strong?

  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it’s possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough?  Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what specifically makes something “successful”?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? If a reader’s first response is, “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • Does my paper  support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It’s o.k. to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? If a reader’s first response is “how?” or “why?” your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.


Frankenstein​ ​Paper​ ​Topics

Here you will find some good topics for your essay on Frankenstein

1.) Discuss organ transplants in the modern world. Black market may also be mentioned.
2.) Research human cloning. What successes have there been, and what are the ethical implications
of cloning?
3.) Discuss human and animal testing. Include the reasons for testing and the controversy
surrounding it.
4.) Research transgenic mice. What other avenues are scientists exploring based off this?
5.) Discuss animal cloning. What animals have been cloned and what is the public opinion?
6.) Discuss organ cloning. How is this changing medical science?
7.) Explore the issue of assisted suicide. May include Dr. Kevorkian and new laws passed concerning
the issue.
8.) Discuss stem cell research, the different types, and the purpose.
9.) Examine genetic engineering. May include how it is related to not only humans, but also food.
10.)Research biotech and the issues/controversy that surrounds the topic.
11.)Explain artificial intelligence and what it encompasses. Include the capabilities and where AI is
12.)Discuss the ethics of medical knowledge gained by experimentation, specifically the experiments
of Nazis. May also include tests by the United States’ government in Guatemala and the
Tuskegee Experiment.
13.)Discuss immunization; what it is, how it’s done, and the controversy surrounding it. May also
include the history of immunizations and cases about parents who refuse to immunize their
children. Discuss reasons (alleged link to autism, for example).
14.)Research the use of animal organs in humans. May include what animals are used, if it is humane,
and the problems surrounding the science.
15.)Explore the secrecy in science. Consider whether it is fair or if all scientific knowledge gained
should be released to the public.
16.)Research the recent advancements in science. What has developed over the last 30 years? Focus
on a specific branch of science.
17.)CRISPR gene-editing
18.)Drone privacy/other spy technology. Use by governments as well as private individuals.

The hardest part of writing is the beginning, but once you are done with your introductory paragraph, the rest of the paper will almost write itself. Good luck!

Introductory Paragraph Example

(Start with a broad sentence and end with the thesis)

The essence of man’s relationship to nature has been an eternal subject throughout history for the human mind to contemplate and analyze. In addition to the obvious analyses in the sciences, literature too has found this subject a constant subject of exploration. Despite the physical limitations of the stage, drama often employs the natural world as an integral part of the written and then performed story. Even in the almost complete bareness of the Elizabethan stage, William Shakespeare often touched upon the natural world in his plays. One of his plays where this quickly becomes apparent is in the classic tragedy, Macbeth. In fact, from Act I, scene i to the final Act V, scene viii, nature surrounds the title character’s march to his destiny. In Macbeth nature plays a vital role in the rise and fall of the character Macbeth.

1. In the example paragraph explain how the first sentence relates to the thesis.
2. Explain how the second sentence is more specific than the first.
3. Explain how the third sentence is more specific than the second.
4. Explain how the fourth sentence is more specific than the third.
5. Explain how the fifth sentence is more specific than the fourth.
6. Explain how the sixth sentence is more specific that the fifth.
7. Explain how the seventh sentence is more specific than the sixth.
8.-15. Choose a thesis sentence that you want to use for an essay and write the
introductory paragraph following the form given in the example.

Where to Look for Sources for your Research Paper

Where to Look for Sources


Library card catalogues:

Most libraries now offer online catalogues that you can access from anywhere as long as you have a library card.  Try different keywords or phrases to ensure that you find all related material.



Most libraries subscribe to databases.  There are different databases for different fields, so make sure you check out all the databases you can find that related to your research topic.  Databases will offer a variety of substantial articles and books that are all from reputable sources.



Websites can be useful at times.  However, often times, it is harder to weed through the bad material than to just use a library or database.  You must always verify that the information you are looking at is valid. Some helpful hints to assure that the website is valid:


  1. Who is the owner / author of the website?  And what are their credentials in the subject area?
  2. What type of domain does it come from?
  3. Who published or owns the page?
  4. Is there a date on the page?
  5. Are sources documented with footnotes or links?

How to write a research paper

Research Paper

A research paper is an expanded report using multiple sources to develop a topic or a thesis.


Step 1: Read and review the assignment until you understand all requirements.


Step 2: Choose a topic.

A good topic has these characteristics:

  1. Interesting: it will hold your interest and it is something you would like to learn more about
  2. Manageable: keep in mind your resource and time constraints
  3. Original: find an angle on your topic that is not the “same old” way of looking at something

Try to avoid a topic that is too broad or too narrow.


Step 3: Do some preliminary reading.

  • Go to encyclopedias to get some background information about your topic. This will allow you to further narrow or broaden your topic.  This can also help clarify your interest in a given topic.
  • Write down some questions you want to answer by the end of your research.
  • Write down some areas you are planning to research (library books, specific internet sites, Google Scholar etc.).


Step 4: Locate resources.

  • Look for a variety of sources.  Use books, magazines, newspapers, the internet, etc.
  • Evaluate the sources.  Are they up-to-date and from reliable authors?  Skim the table of contents or subheadings to ensure it will be helpful to you.
  • Write down the works cited page information for each source on a note card.  This will ensure that you have the correct information and will save you a lot of trouble later on.


Step 5: Read and take notes on resources.

  • Label your note cards differently for each source.
  • Include the page number of the source (This will ensure you have the proper citation information).
  • Paraphrase information using your own shorthand as long as you will remember what you meant later on.
  • Use quotation marks when you copy directly from the source.


Step 6: Write an original thesis statement.


Step 7: Begin drafting.


Step 8: Revise.