Choosing a topic for a research paper can be tricky, but there are some features that can help an author avoid bad research topics. However, a topic must be interesting to the writer/author and useful to the audience; there are topics that should be absolutely avoided. For example, personal information and personal histories, topics with a lack of information that are easy to address, topics that are too narrow, topics that are too broad, and controversial/political topics, same-sex marriage, religion/ethnicity, etc.
A useful list of things not to do
- Period generally has no place in a title (even a declarative sentence can work without a period)
- Also as any kind of color to separate title parts (links are good with link words though)
- Chemical formula, like H2O, CH4, etc. (use their common or generic names instead)
- Avoid Roman numerals (eg III, IX, etc.)
- Semicolons, as in “;” (however, both points are very useful for making two-part titles)
- No taxonomic hierarchy of species of plants, animals, fungi, etc. there’s no need.
- Abbreviations (except RNA), currently standard and widely known DNA)
- Origins and acronyms (eg, “Ca” can be associated with CA, indicating cancer)
- Avoid question marks (this tends to reduce citations, but is useful for asking questions in articles on economics and philosophy or when the results are not as clear as expected)
- Unusual words (some are good, but too many) can affect altmetric notation)
- Numeric displays or units (eg km-1 or km/h)
- Unclear terms (eg, “with” could be rewritten with a more specific verb; “between” corrected with simpler word order)
- Cryptic/complex drug names (use general name if allowed)
- Obvious or unspecific openings with conjunction: for example, “Report on”, “Stud io on”, “Results”, “Experimental study on”, etc. (no, that doesn’t add any sense!). Aim for 50-100 characters, but no more (shorter titles are more frequently cited) or fewer than 13 words
Related: Finished preparing your manuscript? Check out this article now for additional points to consider when submitting your manuscript!
Non-specific research question
● Choosing a vague or indirect research question helps you answer the question through your discussions in the paper.
● Ask yourself why you chose the topic and what you hope to achieve with the results.
Personal facts and stories
You cannot write a research paper based on your own biography or your own life stories unless you are famous or have at least one book written about you. A research paper requires you to do research, which means that certain sources must be available for you to use properly.
Inaccessible and difficult to circumscribe
Some topics are very broad and it is very difficult to circumscribe them. These topics will be difficult for students to handle. You may feel that you will get there, but as the process begins, you will feel that it will become long and you will not be able to complete it in the given time. A large topic is not only difficult to handle in a research paper, but also creates several dimensions in the research that are difficult to analyze in a small research paper.
There are some subjects that make them special because many students have already worked on them. An overworked topic may be interesting to you, but it will be more interesting to the audience, especially your teacher.