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Research Guides@Tufts

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Research Paper Guide

This guide is intended to help with your research process for your final paper.

Turning Interests Into Topics

Research is a messy, creative, and powerful process that ultimately leads to learning and the creation of new knowledge

An important part of the research process is turning your interests into topic ideas. A good topic should:

  • Spark your interest and curiosity
  • Inspire deep and critical thinking
  • Change as you learn more

Great topic ideas take time to develop. 

Topic vs. Thesis

Your topic is what you will explore via research, critical engagement, and writing. It might shift and change, but you identify it early in the research process.

Your thesis is the argument you are making about your topic, informed by your research. It should come later in your research process, after you have critically engaged with a diverse array of sources. 

Research is a process; you must learn about a topic before you can make an informed, intelligent argument. Remember that you are taking part in a scholarly conversation-- just as in a "regular" conversation, you can't successfully participate unless you're listening to what other people have to say.

Head of the W. Van Alan Clark, Jr. Library

Darin Murphy's picture
Darin Murphy
W. Van Alan Clark, Jr. Library
SMFA at Tufts
230 The Fenway
Boston, MA 02115
Office: 617 627 0021