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How Do I Know What to Write About? - Moving From a Subject to a Topic

Usually, your professor will assign a research paper within a general area -- classical architecture, for instance, or novels by Dickens. These are examples of subjects -- general fields of knowledge.

Your job as a writer is to come up with a topic -- the specific aspect of the subject on which you want to focus, such as the order of columns in classical architecture or women characters in Dickens' novels. To be successful, your topic should become interesting to you, it should be appropriate for the course and manageable within the constraints of the assignment, and, most important, it should be an issue you want to pursue.

Here are some suggestions for getting started:

  • Free write on the subject
  • Brainstorm with classmates
  • List all the questions you have about the subject
  • Read widely on your topic using diverse subjects.