One of the most challenging aspects of your research paper assignment often will be the process of getting from an interesting topic to a viable research question. There are several ways you might go about doing this:
By comparing two or more works or ideas:
Pythagoras believed that a perfect fifth in music corresponds to the color yellow, but Newton, through his experiments in optics, argued that a perfect fifth corresponds to orange. Why and how did Newton relate music and color? Are there any fields of study today that continue to explore this relationship?
By examining trends:
In the sixteenth century, a total of six works on the topic of alchemy were published in the English language. Between 1600 and 1650, there were a total of 14. In the second half of the seventeenth century, though, nearly 100 different works on alchemy were published. How can we explain this sudden upsurge?
By exploring a controversy or an area where the experts vehemently disagree:
Is Faust a scientist?
Is Thomas Kuhn's paradigm accurate for explaining the history of science?
The Craft of Research is an essential guide to the research process in any discipline. The authors provide clear guidance about how to get from a topic to a research question to a thesis (claim), and how to support claims with evidence.