Choosing a strong topic for a psychology term paper

Where to start?

You are just about to start writing your Psychology Term Paper. There have been so many interesting topics that you have covered during the course that you just don’t know where to start. There have been topics and concepts that you have found personally enlightening; issues that have helped you understand aspects of social relationships’ and learned behavior.

You really liked the section on stress and anxiety, and feel that you would like to find out more about this areas of Psychology. You start by reading everything that you can find that relates to Stress & Anxiety. You find research papers, journal articles, and magazines that are full of information about the subject. And now you feel totally swamped with information and are still not sure where to or how to focus your work for the term paper.

Take a step back

  • You need to do some planning. The reason that you got so swamped is that you were not looking at a specific area within Stress & Anxiety, you were looking in general terms and you accumulated too much peripheral information.
  • Start again. Identify the area that most interested you during the term. Taken the same example of Stress & Anxiety, apply that to a specific behavior, such as ‘Producing a Term Paper‘. But that could be too specific, what about being a bit more general and look at Stress factors related to Academic Written Work.
  • Now you have identified that area. You start to research and apply the concepts you have learned about on the Psychology Course to real life situations.


  • Evaluate background information. Use your course text books as a starting point, look carefully at the end of the appropriate section (Stress & Anxiety in this case) and search out the Further Reading, and other cited sources. This is your starting point. Us the Library, Use the internet, especially academic web sites. Look at psychological journals. Start with the general issues then move to the more specific issues, (think like a ripple on a pond).
  • Make notes and references to the work that you will be citing. This will keep you not only focused but it will also help you to start on you Bibliography. Check on how many sources you need to use.
  • Keep your focus on the ‘strong topic’ you have decided on and do not get sidelined, no matter how interesting you find the information.
  • Work in a logical and methodical progression. Check in with your tutor frequently, which will help you stay on track.