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Assignment | History Research Paper (South): 1. Select a Topic

Fall 2019 | HIST 1301, 1302 (Prof. South)

About Selecting a Topic

Topic SelectionFortunately, for this assignment, your professor has provided a list of possible topics (each in the form of a research question) for you to choose from, so you're not stuck trying to narrow down all the topics ever.

Of course you can just read through the list and pick out something that sounds appealing to you!

That's just step 1, though. You have your question, but it's up to you to develop the answers.

If you're choosing "none of the above"...

If you want to make up your own topic, great! Just keep in mind that you need to be more narrow than broad. For example, the Civil War is way too big a topic to tackle within a fairly short paper. You might narrow that down to "causes of the Civil War," and even that further narrowed to "main cause of the Civil War," or "how [something] helped trigger the Civil War."

Try to keep in mind, too, that while having personal interest in a topic is great (and really makes the research process more pleasant), liking a topic isn't the same as landing on a good research topic. Maybe you got too narrow. Maybe no one has really investigated your topic before, and you just can't find any sources about it. Maybe it's interesting and provable...but it's too easily proven. (Hint: if you can answer your research question with a simple yes/no within 30 seconds of Googling it, it's not a strong topic. ex, Is sleep good for your health? Duh, yes. Next question.)

From Your Professor

Picking a Topic IS Research