Research Topics for a Research Paper

Limit the page requirement to eight pages to avoid overwhelming high school students.

The research paper is a high school and college requirement. Since format constitutes a large portion of the grade, many students become intimidated by the process and the assignment. If you make the topics for a research paper interesting, you can help counteract this apprehension on the part of students by making them more enthusiastic about the assignment.

1 Antagonists in Literature

Intertwine English with psychology.

One creative research assignment intertwines English with psychology. Students select an antagonist that they have read about during the school year. Present students with a list of personality disorders, such as histrionic disorder, and their main symptoms. Students will use psychological research as well as the actions and quotations from the literature to support the presence of the disorder in the character. Students should also find a literary criticism to corroborate their findings.

2 Autobiographical Connections

Have a student select an author they especially enjoyed.

In this research assignment, students select an author they enjoyed during the course of the year. They then research the life of the author and find influences on that person's writing. Students then develop a thesis that outlines the major contributing factors and use their research as well as the literature to prove this statement. Students should use literary criticism to support the autobiographical connection.

3 Women in Literature

Select a female character.

Students select female characters found in the literature covered in the class. The assignment is to analyze the female character and to link her to the social commentary of the work. For example, Portia, in Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," is a contradiction to the Roman culture that denigrated women in terms of their value in society. Another example would be the treatment of women as possessions in the 1920s using a character such as Curley's wife from Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men." Students will have to research both history and the literature to complete the assignment.

4 Literary Movement

Select a literary moment or period.

In this research assignment, students will select a literary movement or period such as romanticism, naturalism, single effect or imagism. For example, students could research Edgar Allan Poe and "Fall of the House of Usher" to illustrate the use of single effect. Students will find a piece of literature that incorporates the period or the movement. They will use characteristics found in the literature to analyze the effect of the literary element. Students could also have the option of including multiple works to expand the range of their analysis.

Residing in New Jersey, Kerry O'Neill has been a teacher of English for over 17 years and a writer since 2000. She began by writing curriculum about American and British literature and is now a contributing content writer for various online publications. She graduated summa cum laude from the College of New Jersey with a Bachelor of Arts in English.