Best Topics For Research Papers: I Need Online Help

When searching for or deciding on a topic for a research paper, the Internet may be the first resource that comes to mind. While a big-time search engine can of course be very useful, it is not the only online option available. There are more specialized ways to find material online, and simple ways to find them.

Ask your school librarian what the school offers

Some of the best resources are the ones right under your nose. Start with your school’s library.

  • Online databases.
  • Many high school or university libraries have one or many online databases accessible through computers in the library itself. Visit your school library and ask the librarian what resources are available. Often a school library has academic or scholarly databases for scholarly peer-written and reviewed articles that feature their own search engine.

  • Digitized documents.
  • Your school library also may have scanned in documents related to your field of study that you can look over not only to choose a topic, but also to use when you begin researching and writing your paper. All of these things may not be available to you, or you may not know about, unless you simply ask what resources are available to you as a student.

Use a print or online encyclopedia

Encyclopedias now exist online as well as in print and can serve as valuable search tools themselves.

  • Online encyclopedias.

    Searching through an online encyclopedia can be a much more effective tool for finding or researching a topic than using a general Web search engine because instead of bringing up all related results all across the web, you will only get results that yield documents that exist for the purpose of information. For example, if you use a search engine to find information on Italy and Rome post-Roman Empire, you may have to wade through multitudes of search results on Italy travel information before you got to a result that yielded the information you needed or wanted. Searching an encyclopedia will yield only information-related results.

  • A physical encyclopedia search can help you narrow your topic for an online search.

    Here, too, can your library be useful. Most libraries contain at least one full physical encyclopedia collection. Searching through a physical encyclopedia nearly guarantees you won’t be wading through unwanted results, as you choose exactly what you’re going to read about.

Wherever you search, use the narrowest search terms you can

Searching for “research topics” will bring up millions and millions of results, no matter where you search. Even searching for, say, “history research topics” will produce an overwhelming mass of possibilities.

  • Brainstorm a general field before you do a search.

    The best way to go about identifying a research topic is to brainstorm before you search and decide what interests you enough to pursue. Of course you don’t have to come up with a brilliant topic all on your own, but the more specific your online search terms are, the more effective your search will be.