Writing an APA Research Paper: Focusing a Researchable Topic

The process of writing a research paper is a challenging task. Just coming up with a topic is enough for many student. When you are given the task of writing an APA research paper, your topic needs to be focused and specific. Of course it is easy to choose a general and controversial topic for a social sciences paper, but narrowing it to a unique, yet debatable idea is where the struggle occurs. Fortunately, there are many ways to narrow a topic and still be able to write a long, well-researched paper. Here are a few tips:

  1. Look at other research papers: Read what other people have researched to get inspiration.
  2. Create a mind map: Start with your big topic in the middle, then begin branching out with other ideas. You might surprise yourself with where you go. Don’t judge anything until after you have exhausted your thinking.
  3. Talk to your friends: Let them know what your topic is and let them help you come up with narrowed ideas.
  4. Meet with your teacher: Teachers are good at coming up with ideas, but only if you bring some to the table first. Share where you think you want to go with the topic and have a brain-storming session together.
  5. Dig through journals and research databases: You never know what you will find and something might give you a good idea.
  6. Talk to someone in the field: If you are writing about a topic related to psychology, why not meet with a psychologist? Those who are working in the field know about the latest research and can help you focus on a timely topic. Be sure to make an appointment with the professional and be aware that you might have to pay for the time.

After you have narrowed your topic, it is a good idea to do a preliminary investigation of available sources. Some students find out too late that they have overly focused their topics and nothing is available to use as research. Some students find that they have to conduct some of their own first hand research to report on in their APA research papers. If you find that you cannot locate any useful sources of information, you should go back to the topic and make it a bit bigger.

Once you find the perfect topic, begin researching and be sure to document all of your sources.