Lesson 6

The Goal:

Topic development and choosing a focus for your paper can be one of the most important, yet most difficult, aspects of writing an academic paper. In this lesson you’ll be introduced to techniques and strategies for choosing and polishing paper topics.


What to Read:

  1. From Topic to Presentation: Making Choices to Develop Your Writing‘ by Beth L. Hewett in Writing Spaces, Vol 1.
  2. Section C1 in a Writer’s Reference, pp. 3-14
  3. * “Darkness Too Visible‘ by Megan Cox Gurdon in the Wall Street Journal
  4. * “Fake News Goes Viral: A Case Study‘ by Sapna Maheshwari in  The New York Times
  5. *  “Why Can’t Media Portray the Rural Alaska I Know‘ by Laureli Ivanoff in  The Alaska Dispatch News


Go to the Discussion page and contribute to Discussion #6


Writing Exercise:

Make a list of 50 creative topics that might interest you for a research paper. Your topics should be as unique as possible. For instance, “Legalization of Marijuana” is a topic that has been covered by at least one college student every semester and every university since the 196o’s. However, “Computer Generated Narrative Applications” is more unusual and gives you room as a student to say something unique, and it’s probably more interesting for you and your instructor.

Again, Wikipedia is a great place to begin collecting ideas. Try checking out the “Portals” page to begin browsing for topics.   Your list of 50 possible topics should be comprised of phrases rather than single words: “Technology Marketing Strategies” rather than “Technology.”

This list will be a great place to start once we get to the beginning of the research project.


Submission Checklist:

  • 2-paragraph contribution to the Discussion page. (30 points)
  • Topic Exercise: (WA 4) 50 creative topics for an academic paper (20 points)


with Megan Bush