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Starting A Term Paper: Subjects You Can Write About


Writing a term paper is always hard at the beginning when you’re just choosing the subject and you haven’t even started writing the body of the paper yet. Many students get hung up on choosing the subject because the choices are endless. It helps to have an idea already in mind but if you don’t, you can browse through many lists of subject ideas.

First of all you will notice there are many general subject areas. These are much too broad to write a paper on, but they help to identify a general area of interest. You would then take that area of interest and start to narrow down until you reach a more detailed focus. Some examples of broad subject areas would be the following.

  • - Youth subculture
  • - Racism
  • - Sociopaths
  • - Anatomy
  • - World War
  • - The death penalty

Taking the above list and finding a more narrow focus within each broad area, we might derive a list that looks like this:

  • - Comparing youth subcultures from 1970-1975 in Los Angeles
  • - Can the prevalence of racism within the media be accurately measured?
  • - Are sociopaths capable of controlling their emotions?
  • - The anatomy of the human foot compared to that of a chimp’s foot
  • - Where was the First World War won and lost?
  • - How does America justify the death penalty?

Writing a great term paper always starts with having a good subject or topic. There are so many broad areas to consider, but once you choose an area, you can narrow down quite quickly. Be careful not to narrow your topic down so much that there is no research material to use. It must be something that will enable you to create a well-rounded and yet concise piece of work.

It’s not unusual to choose a subject for your paper and then within the research phase you may realize you need to tweak your topic slightly. Using the examples above for instance, you may find when researching the youth subculture for Los Angeles between the years 1970-1975 that there is simply not enough information available. But you did notice there was plenty of reliable documentation on this subject for youth subcultures from 1965-1970. Or, perhaps a different location such as San Francisco would provide enough reliable resource material.

Be prepared to make some minor modifications to your topic as necessary, but the earlier on in the writing process, the better to avoid wasting valuable writing time.