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- Be certain that you understand the assignment before you choose something.
- Whenever possible, choose a topic that interests you.
- Run ideas by your professor before committing yourself to a topic.
- Avoid overdone topics such as the death penalty, abortion, gun control, legalization of drugs, etc., and your paper will stand out in a positive way for your professor.
- Do not choose a recent event as a topic because it takes time, at least 6 months to a year, before scholarly resources can be written and become available. For example, while it is now possible to find scholarly journal articles for a research paper on the 9/11 terrorist attack, it would have been impossible to do so right after it happened.
- Do not choose a local event as a topic. It is extremely difficult, usually impossible, to find scholarly sources specific to San Bernardino, Riverside, etc., unless it is something that makes the national news such as the December 2, 2015 shooting.
- If you run into trouble when researching your topic, get help from a librarian as soon as possible instead of changing your topic. Jumping from topic to topic each time you run into a snag can cost you in lost time and frustration.