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WRITING PAPERS
        Selecting Good Paper Topics

  Writing an excellent paper partly involves selecting a good topic for the paper.  There
are many possible good research paper topics, including psychology research paper
topics. Below are some general guidelines that can be used in selecting good paper topics
(e.g., good psychology research paper topics).

1.  Pick a topic that you are really interested in.  Your enthusiasm for the topic may be
reflected in the paper.  If you are very interested in the topic, you may be able to present
your ideas in greater depth and cogency.  You may be able to think of arguments and
evidence to support your ideas.   Your paper may be more detailed.

2.  The topic should not be too broad for the length of the paper.  If the topic is too
broad, you may not present the ideas in sufficient depth.  If you are writing a short paper
(e.g., 4-8 pages), it may be better to have a more specific topic.  For example, a short
paper on humor and leadership would be better than a paper on humor in general.

3.  In my view, papers are better and more interesting to read if they have a thesis
statement.  The papers should not just be a summarization of information.  Sometimes
these papers can be fragmented.  It also may be more difficult to appreciate the ideas in
the paper.  Thus, it may be a good idea to pick a topic that reflects a thesis statement.  
The thesis statement would be a view in the paper that would be supported by argument
and evidence.  For example, one thesis statement is the idea that rituals help us to find
meaning in life.  This may be a better than a paper on the topic of rituals in general.

4.  Pick a topic in which you may be able to make some original contribution to the
literature.   In my view, papers that reflect some original insight are much better than
papers that only summarize the ideas of others.  Thus, you may wish to ask yourself
whether you can develop some original ideas for that particular topic.

5.   If you are writing a short paper, you may wish to pick a topic in which the ideas or
research findings are not too confusing, conflicting, or complex.   It may be very difficult
to write a clear and informative short paper if the ideas or findings are too confusing,
conflicting, or complex.

6.  If the paper is focused on presenting research findings, it would be important to select
a topic in which there is a significant amount of research on the topic.  It would be good
to be able to provide some conclusions based on sufficient evidence.