Whereas topical essays and book reports are primarily intended for the sole audience of one—the professor who assigns them—research papers are intended for a larger audience that includes professors, future students and researchers, as well as those whose lives revolve around the topics in question.
You could even browse the links section at the bottom of any given Wiki page for dozens of links—many of them credible—that you could then visit for further information and sources.
When you set about composing a research paper, it is crucial to have questions to use that would spark your interest and provide a clear cut direction for your assignment.
For instance, if you research a very general topic like “20th century technology,” it could be difficult to focus your assignment since the topic would yield thousands of sources on everything pertaining to technology from the last century.
But if you narrow your focus to something more direct—such as “What were the most universally adapted technological advances of the 20th century?
With that in mind, you could then read up on how that topic applied 250 years ago to see how things have changed and how they have remained the same, and from there construct a relevant research question.
For any research paper, the focus of your work will be driven by two primary elements: the topic and the issue.First, you will need to decide on a subject for your research—a subject that is actually researchable.Then you will need to brainstorm for questions about the topic that would further pique your own curiosity.From that list of questions, pick your favorite one that is both focused and flexible.A quick count of the sources available for your research can help you gauge whether your question is too general, too limited or just right.For instance, you might have more interest in the topic of involuntary celibacy than you do about North Korean labor camps, but you are likely to find more research sources devoted to the latter topic.Depending on the word-count or page requirements of your assignment, an abundance of resources could have a huge impact on your ability to undertake the workload.If more than half of the topics are related to a specific area of study, it probably means that you gravitate towards that area, in which case you should discard the other possibilities.From there you can see which of those related topics are easiest to source for research.In many instances, your professor will give you a list of topics to choose from for your research paper.Since all of these topics are bound to offer plenty of sources for research, your best option in this case is to choose the topic most familiar to you.