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How to Get Started With a Research Project

Last Updated: October 3, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Chris Hadley, PhD . Chris Hadley, PhD is part of the wikiHow team and works on content strategy and data and analytics. Chris Hadley earned his PhD in Cognitive Psychology from UCLA in 2006. Chris' academic research has been published in numerous scientific journals. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 312,130 times.

You'll be required to undertake and complete research projects throughout your academic career and even, in many cases, as a member of the workforce. Don't worry if you feel stuck or intimidated by the idea of a research project, with care and dedication, you can get the project done well before the deadline!

Development and Foundation

Step 1 Brainstorm an idea or identify a problem or question.

  • Don't hesitate while writing down ideas. You'll end up with some mental noise on the paper – silly or nonsensical phrases that your brain just pushes out. That's fine. Think of it as sweeping the cobwebs out of your attic. After a minute or two, better ideas will begin to form (and you might have a nice little laugh at your own expense in the meantime).

Step 2 Use the tools you've already been given.

  • Some instructors will even provide samples of previously successful topics if you ask for them. Just be careful that you don't end up stuck with an idea you want to do, but are afraid to do because you know someone else did it before.

Step 4 Think from all angles.

  • For example, if your research topic is “urban poverty,” you could look at that topic across ethnic or sexual lines, but you could also look into corporate wages, minimum wage laws, the cost of medical benefits, the loss of unskilled jobs in the urban core, and on and on. You could also try comparing and contrasting urban poverty with suburban or rural poverty, and examine things that might be different about both areas, such as diet and exercise levels, or air pollution.

Step 5 Synthesize specific topics.

  • Think in terms of questions you want answered. A good research project should collect information for the purpose of answering (or at least attempting to answer) a question. As you review and interconnect topics, you'll think of questions that don't seem to have clear answers yet. These questions are your research topics.

Step 7 Brush across information you have access to.

  • Don't limit yourself to libraries and online databases. Think in terms of outside resources as well: primary sources, government agencies, even educational TV programs. If you want to know about differences in animal population between public land and an Indian reservation, call the reservation and see if you can speak to their department of fish and wildlife.
  • If you're planning to go ahead with original research, that's great – but those techniques aren't covered in this article. Instead, speak with qualified advisors and work with them to set up a thorough, controlled, repeatable process for gathering information.

Step 8 Clearly define your project.

  • If your plan comes down to “researching the topic,” and there aren't any more specific things you can say about it, write down the types of sources you plan to use instead: books (library or private?), magazines (which ones?), interviews, and so on. Your preliminary research should have given you a solid idea of where to begin.

Expanding Your Idea with Research

Step 1 Start with the basics.

  • It's generally considered more convincing to source one item from three different authors who all agree on it than it is to rely too heavily on one book. Go for quantity at least as much as quality. Be sure to check citations, endnotes, and bibliographies to get more potential sources (and see whether or not all your authors are just quoting the same, older author).
  • Writing down your sources and any other relevant details (such as context) around your pieces of information right now will save you lots of trouble in the future.

Step 2 Move outward.

  • Use many different queries to get the database results you want. If one phrasing or a particular set of words doesn't yield useful results, try rephrasing it or using synonymous terms. Online academic databases tend to be dumber than the sum of their parts, so you'll have to use tangentially related terms and inventive language to get all the results you want.

Step 3 Gather unusual sources.

  • If it's sensible, consider heading out into the field and speaking to ordinary people for their opinions. This isn't always appropriate (or welcomed) in a research project, but in some cases, it can provide you with some excellent perspective for your research.
  • Review cultural artifacts as well. In many areas of study, there's useful information on attitudes, hopes, and/or concerns of people in a particular time and place contained within the art, music, and writing they produced. One has only to look at the woodblock prints of the later German Expressionists, for example, to understand that they lived in a world they felt was often dark, grotesque, and hopeless. Song lyrics and poetry can likewise express strong popular attitudes.

Step 4 Review and trim.

Expert Q&A

Chris Hadley, PhD

  • Start early. The foundation of a great research project is the research, which takes time and patience to gather even if you aren't performing any original research of your own. Set aside time for it whenever you can, at least until your initial gathering phase is complete. Past that point, the project should practically come together on its own. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
  • When in doubt, write more, rather than less. It's easier to pare down and reorganize an overabundance of information than it is to puff up a flimsy core of facts and anecdotes. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0

how to do a good research project

  • Respect the wishes of others. Unless you're a research journalist, it's vital that you yield to the wishes and requests of others before engaging in original research, even if it's technically ethical. Many older American Indians, for instance, harbor a great deal of cultural resentment towards social scientists who visit reservations for research, even those invited by tribal governments for important reasons such as language revitalization. Always tread softly whenever you're out of your element, and only work with those who want to work with you. Thanks Helpful 8 Not Helpful 2
  • Be mindful of ethical concerns. Especially if you plan to use original research, there are very stringent ethical guidelines that must be followed for any credible academic body to accept it. Speak to an advisor (such as a professor) about what you plan to do and what steps you should take to verify that it will be ethical. Thanks Helpful 6 Not Helpful 2

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Be a Successful High School Student

  • ↑ http://www.butte.edu/departments/cas/tipsheets/research/research_paper.html
  • ↑ https://www.nhcc.edu/academics/library/doing-library-research/basic-steps-research-process
  • ↑ https://library.sacredheart.edu/c.php?g=29803&p=185905
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/common_writing_assignments/research_papers/choosing_a_topic.html
  • ↑ https://www.unr.edu/writing-speaking-center/student-resources/writing-speaking-resources/using-an-interview-in-a-research-paper
  • ↑ https://www.science.org/content/article/how-review-paper

About This Article

Chris Hadley, PhD

The easiest way to get started with a research project is to use your notes and other materials to come up with topics that interest you. Research your favorite topic to see if it can be developed, and then refine it into a research question. Begin thoroughly researching, and collect notes and sources. To learn more about finding reliable and helpful sources while you're researching, continue reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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how to do a good research project

Illustration by James Round

How to plan a research project

Whether for a paper or a thesis, define your question, review the work of others – and leave yourself open to discovery.

by Brooke Harrington   + BIO

is professor of sociology at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Her research has won international awards both for scholarly quality and impact on public life. She has published dozens of articles and three books, most recently the bestseller Capital without Borders (2016), now translated into five languages.

Edited by Sam Haselby

Need to know

‘When curiosity turns to serious matters, it’s called research.’ – From Aphorisms (1880-1905) by Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

Planning research projects is a time-honoured intellectual exercise: one that requires both creativity and sharp analytical skills. The purpose of this Guide is to make the process systematic and easy to understand. While there is a great deal of freedom and discovery involved – from the topics you choose, to the data and methods you apply – there are also some norms and constraints that obtain, no matter what your academic level or field of study. For those in high school through to doctoral students, and from art history to archaeology, research planning involves broadly similar steps, including: formulating a question, developing an argument or predictions based on previous research, then selecting the information needed to answer your question.

Some of this might sound self-evident but, as you’ll find, research requires a different way of approaching and using information than most of us are accustomed to in everyday life. That is why I include orienting yourself to knowledge-creation as an initial step in the process. This is a crucial and underappreciated phase in education, akin to making the transition from salaried employment to entrepreneurship: suddenly, you’re on your own, and that requires a new way of thinking about your work.

What follows is a distillation of what I’ve learned about this process over 27 years as a professional social scientist. It reflects the skills that my own professors imparted in the sociology doctoral programme at Harvard, as well as what I learned later on as a research supervisor for Ivy League PhD and MA students, and then as the author of award-winning scholarly books and articles. It can be adapted to the demands of both short projects (such as course term papers) and long ones, such as a thesis.

At its simplest, research planning involves the four distinct steps outlined below: orienting yourself to knowledge-creation; defining your research question; reviewing previous research on your question; and then choosing relevant data to formulate your own answers. Because the focus of this Guide is on planning a research project, as opposed to conducting a research project, this section won’t delve into the details of data-collection or analysis; those steps happen after you plan the project. In addition, the topic is vast: year-long doctoral courses are devoted to data and analysis. Instead, the fourth part of this section will outline some basic strategies you could use in planning a data-selection and analysis process appropriate to your research question.

Step 1: Orient yourself

Planning and conducting research requires you to make a transition, from thinking like a consumer of information to thinking like a producer of information. That sounds simple, but it’s actually a complex task. As a practical matter, this means putting aside the mindset of a student, which treats knowledge as something created by other people. As students, we are often passive receivers of knowledge: asked to do a specified set of readings, then graded on how well we reproduce what we’ve read.

Researchers, however, must take on an active role as knowledge producers . Doing research requires more of you than reading and absorbing what other people have written: you have to engage in a dialogue with it. That includes arguing with previous knowledge and perhaps trying to show that ideas we have accepted as given are actually wrong or incomplete. For example, rather than simply taking in the claims of an author you read, you’ll need to draw out the implications of those claims: if what the author is saying is true, what else does that suggest must be true? What predictions could you make based on the author’s claims?

In other words, rather than treating a reading as a source of truth – even if it comes from a revered source, such as Plato or Marie Curie – this orientation step asks you to treat the claims you read as provisional and subject to interrogation. That is one of the great pieces of wisdom that science and philosophy can teach us: that the biggest advances in human understanding have been made not by being correct about trivial things, but by being wrong in an interesting way . For example, Albert Einstein was wrong about quantum mechanics, but his arguments about it with his fellow physicist Niels Bohr have led to some of the biggest breakthroughs in science, even a century later.

Step 2: Define your research question

Students often give this step cursory attention, but experienced researchers know that formulating a good question is sometimes the most difficult part of the research planning process. That is because the precise language of the question frames the rest of the project. It’s therefore important to pose the question carefully, in a way that’s both possible to answer and likely to yield interesting results. Of course, you must choose a question that interests you, but that’s only the beginning of what’s likely to be an iterative process: most researchers come back to this step repeatedly, modifying their questions in light of previous research, resource limitations and other considerations.

Researchers face limits in terms of time and money. They, like everyone else, have to pose research questions that they can plausibly answer given the constraints they face. For example, it would be inadvisable to frame a project around the question ‘What are the roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict?’ if you have only a week to develop an answer and no background on that topic. That’s not to limit your imagination: you can come up with any question you’d like. But it typically does require some creativity to frame a question that you can answer well – that is, by investigating thoroughly and providing new insights – within the limits you face.

In addition to being interesting to you, and feasible within your resource constraints, the third and most important characteristic of a ‘good’ research topic is whether it allows you to create new knowledge. It might turn out that your question has already been asked and answered to your satisfaction: if so, you’ll find out in the next step of this process. On the other hand, you might come up with a research question that hasn’t been addressed previously. Before you get too excited about breaking uncharted ground, consider this: a lot of potentially researchable questions haven’t been studied for good reason ; they might have answers that are trivial or of very limited interest. This could include questions such as ‘Why does the area of a circle equal π r²?’ or ‘Did winter conditions affect Napoleon’s plans to invade Russia?’ Of course, you might be able to make the argument that a seemingly trivial question is actually vitally important, but you must be prepared to back that up with convincing evidence. The exercise in the ‘Learn More’ section below will help you think through some of these issues.

Finally, scholarly research questions must in some way lead to new and distinctive insights. For example, lots of people have studied gender roles in sports teams; what can you ask that hasn’t been asked before? Reinventing the wheel is the number-one no-no in this endeavour. That’s why the next step is so important: reviewing previous research on your topic. Depending on what you find in that step, you might need to revise your research question; iterating between your question and the existing literature is a normal process. But don’t worry: it doesn’t go on forever. In fact, the iterations taper off – and your research question stabilises – as you develop a firm grasp of the current state of knowledge on your topic.

Step 3: Review previous research

In academic research, from articles to books, it’s common to find a section called a ‘literature review’. The purpose of that section is to describe the state of the art in knowledge on the research question that a project has posed. It demonstrates that researchers have thoroughly and systematically reviewed the relevant findings of previous studies on their topic, and that they have something novel to contribute.

Your own research project should include something like this, even if it’s a high-school term paper. In the research planning process, you’ll want to list at least half a dozen bullet points stating the major findings on your topic by other people. In relation to those findings, you should be able to specify where your project could provide new and necessary insights. There are two basic rhetorical positions one can take in framing the novelty-plus-importance argument required of academic research:

  • Position 1 requires you to build on or extend a set of existing ideas; that means saying something like: ‘Person A has argued that X is true about gender; this implies Y, which has not yet been tested. My project will test Y, and if I find evidence to support it, that will change the way we understand gender.’
  • Position 2 is to argue that there is a gap in existing knowledge, either because previous research has reached conflicting conclusions or has failed to consider something important. For example, one could say that research on middle schoolers and gender has been limited by being conducted primarily in coeducational environments, and that findings might differ dramatically if research were conducted in more schools where the student body was all-male or all-female.

Your overall goal in this step of the process is to show that your research will be part of a larger conversation: that is, how your project flows from what’s already known, and how it advances, extends or challenges that existing body of knowledge. That will be the contribution of your project, and it constitutes the motivation for your research.

Two things are worth mentioning about your search for sources of relevant previous research. First, you needn’t look only at studies on your precise topic. For example, if you want to study gender-identity formation in schools, you shouldn’t restrict yourself to studies of schools; the empirical setting (schools) is secondary to the larger social process that interests you (how people form gender identity). That process occurs in many different settings, so cast a wide net. Second, be sure to use legitimate sources – meaning publications that have been through some sort of vetting process, whether that involves peer review (as with academic journal articles you might find via Google Scholar) or editorial review (as you’d find in well-known mass media publications, such as The Economist or The Washington Post ). What you’ll want to avoid is using unvetted sources such as personal blogs or Wikipedia. Why? Because anybody can write anything in those forums, and there is no way to know – unless you’re already an expert – if the claims you find there are accurate. Often, they’re not.

Step 4: Choose your data and methods

Whatever your research question is, eventually you’ll need to consider which data source and analytical strategy are most likely to provide the answers you’re seeking. One starting point is to consider whether your question would be best addressed by qualitative data (such as interviews, observations or historical records), quantitative data (such as surveys or census records) or some combination of both. Your ideas about data sources will, in turn, suggest options for analytical methods.

You might need to collect your own data, or you might find everything you need readily available in an existing dataset someone else has created. A great place to start is with a research librarian: university libraries always have them and, at public universities, those librarians can work with the public, including people who aren’t affiliated with the university. If you don’t happen to have a public university and its library close at hand, an ordinary public library can still be a good place to start: the librarians are often well versed in accessing data sources that might be relevant to your study, such as the census, or historical archives, or the Survey of Consumer Finances.

Because your task at this point is to plan research, rather than conduct it, the purpose of this step is not to commit you irrevocably to a course of action. Instead, your goal here is to think through a feasible approach to answering your research question. You’ll need to find out, for example, whether the data you want exist; if not, do you have a realistic chance of gathering the data yourself, or would it be better to modify your research question? In terms of analysis, would your strategy require you to apply statistical methods? If so, do you have those skills? If not, do you have time to learn them, or money to hire a research assistant to run the analysis for you?

Please be aware that qualitative methods in particular are not the casual undertaking they might appear to be. Many people make the mistake of thinking that only quantitative data and methods are scientific and systematic, while qualitative methods are just a fancy way of saying: ‘I talked to some people, read some old newspapers, and drew my own conclusions.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. In the final section of this guide, you’ll find some links to resources that will provide more insight on standards and procedures governing qualitative research, but suffice it to say: there are rules about what constitutes legitimate evidence and valid analytical procedure for qualitative data, just as there are for quantitative data.

Circle back and consider revising your initial plans

As you work through these four steps in planning your project, it’s perfectly normal to circle back and revise. Research planning is rarely a linear process. It’s also common for new and unexpected avenues to suggest themselves. As the sociologist Thorstein Veblen wrote in 1908 : ‘The outcome of any serious research can only be to make two questions grow where only one grew before.’ That’s as true of research planning as it is of a completed project. Try to enjoy the horizons that open up for you in this process, rather than becoming overwhelmed; the four steps, along with the two exercises that follow, will help you focus your plan and make it manageable.

Key points – How to plan a research project

  • Planning a research project is essential no matter your academic level or field of study. There is no one ‘best’ way to design research, but there are certain guidelines that can be helpfully applied across disciplines.
  • Orient yourself to knowledge-creation. Make the shift from being a consumer of information to being a producer of information.
  • Define your research question. Your question frames the rest of your project, sets the scope, and determines the kinds of answers you can find.
  • Review previous research on your question. Survey the existing body of relevant knowledge to ensure that your research will be part of a larger conversation.
  • Choose your data and methods. For instance, will you be collecting qualitative data, via interviews, or numerical data, via surveys?
  • Circle back and consider revising your initial plans. Expect your research question in particular to undergo multiple rounds of refinement as you learn more about your topic.

Good research questions tend to beget more questions. This can be frustrating for those who want to get down to business right away. Try to make room for the unexpected: this is usually how knowledge advances. Many of the most significant discoveries in human history have been made by people who were looking for something else entirely. There are ways to structure your research planning process without over-constraining yourself; the two exercises below are a start, and you can find further methods in the Links and Books section.

The following exercise provides a structured process for advancing your research project planning. After completing it, you’ll be able to do the following:

  • describe clearly and concisely the question you’ve chosen to study
  • summarise the state of the art in knowledge about the question, and where your project could contribute new insight
  • identify the best strategy for gathering and analysing relevant data

In other words, the following provides a systematic means to establish the building blocks of your research project.

Exercise 1: Definition of research question and sources

This exercise prompts you to select and clarify your general interest area, develop a research question, and investigate sources of information. The annotated bibliography will also help you refine your research question so that you can begin the second assignment, a description of the phenomenon you wish to study.

Jot down a few bullet points in response to these two questions, with the understanding that you’ll probably go back and modify your answers as you begin reading other studies relevant to your topic:

  • What will be the general topic of your paper?
  • What will be the specific topic of your paper?

b) Research question(s)

Use the following guidelines to frame a research question – or questions – that will drive your analysis. As with Part 1 above, you’ll probably find it necessary to change or refine your research question(s) as you complete future assignments.

  • Your question should be phrased so that it can’t be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
  • Your question should have more than one plausible answer.
  • Your question should draw relationships between two or more concepts; framing the question in terms of How? or What? often works better than asking Why ?

c) Annotated bibliography

Most or all of your background information should come from two sources: scholarly books and journals, or reputable mass media sources. You might be able to access journal articles electronically through your library, using search engines such as JSTOR and Google Scholar. This can save you a great deal of time compared with going to the library in person to search periodicals. General news sources, such as those accessible through LexisNexis, are acceptable, but should be cited sparingly, since they don’t carry the same level of credibility as scholarly sources. As discussed above, unvetted sources such as blogs and Wikipedia should be avoided, because the quality of the information they provide is unreliable and often misleading.

To create an annotated bibliography, provide the following information for at least 10 sources relevant to your specific topic, using the format suggested below.

Name of author(s):
Publication date:
Title of book, chapter, or article:
If a chapter or article, title of journal or book where they appear:
Brief description of this work, including main findings and methods ( c 75 words):
Summary of how this work contributes to your project ( c 75 words):
Brief description of the implications of this work ( c 25 words):
Identify any gap or controversy in knowledge this work points up, and how your project could address those problems ( c 50 words):

Exercise 2: Towards an analysis

Develop a short statement ( c 250 words) about the kind of data that would be useful to address your research question, and how you’d analyse it. Some questions to consider in writing this statement include:

  • What are the central concepts or variables in your project? Offer a brief definition of each.
  • Do any data sources exist on those concepts or variables, or would you need to collect data?
  • Of the analytical strategies you could apply to that data, which would be the most appropriate to answer your question? Which would be the most feasible for you? Consider at least two methods, noting their advantages or disadvantages for your project.

Links & books

One of the best texts ever written about planning and executing research comes from a source that might be unexpected: a 60-year-old work on urban planning by a self-trained scholar. The classic book The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) by Jane Jacobs (available complete and free of charge via this link ) is worth reading in its entirety just for the pleasure of it. But the final 20 pages – a concluding chapter titled ‘The Kind of Problem a City Is’ – are really about the process of thinking through and investigating a problem. Highly recommended as a window into the craft of research.

Jacobs’s text references an essay on advancing human knowledge by the mathematician Warren Weaver. At the time, Weaver was director of the Rockefeller Foundation, in charge of funding basic research in the natural and medical sciences. Although the essay is titled ‘A Quarter Century in the Natural Sciences’ (1960) and appears at first blush to be merely a summation of one man’s career, it turns out to be something much bigger and more interesting: a meditation on the history of human beings seeking answers to big questions about the world. Weaver goes back to the 17th century to trace the origins of systematic research thinking, with enthusiasm and vivid anecdotes that make the process come alive. The essay is worth reading in its entirety, and is available free of charge via this link .

For those seeking a more in-depth, professional-level discussion of the logic of research design, the political scientist Harvey Starr provides insight in a compact format in the article ‘Cumulation from Proper Specification: Theory, Logic, Research Design, and “Nice” Laws’ (2005). Starr reviews the ‘research triad’, consisting of the interlinked considerations of formulating a question, selecting relevant theories and applying appropriate methods. The full text of the article, published in the scholarly journal Conflict Management and Peace Science , is available, free of charge, via this link .

Finally, the book Getting What You Came For (1992) by Robert Peters is not only an outstanding guide for anyone contemplating graduate school – from the application process onward – but it also includes several excellent chapters on planning and executing research, applicable across a wide variety of subject areas. It was an invaluable resource for me 25 years ago, and it remains in print with good reason; I recommend it to all my students, particularly Chapter 16 (‘The Thesis Topic: Finding It’), Chapter 17 (‘The Thesis Proposal’) and Chapter 18 (‘The Thesis: Writing It’).

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How to Do Your Research Project

How to Do Your Research Project A Guide for Students

  • Gary Thomas - University of Birmingham
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One of the most impressive things that real experts do is to communicate complex ideas in a clear way for their readers. Gary Thomas’ book has been doing this for university students over many years. It is deservedly a classic textbook, which is now in its 4th edition - a further mark of success!

Gary Thomas writes clearly and it is understood by undergraduates - and indeed this book is also useful for post-graduate students. I will certainly recommend this book and I will ask the library to keep several up to date copies too.

Easy to read. Simple structure. Accessible language and very informative. Can guide students through the research process.

Great resources. Comprehensive and easy to follow.

a wonderfully comprehensive resource written in simple and accessible style, particularly helpful to international students. I love the interactivity resources, they add value to my teaching

This appears an excellent book and one I will be suggesting to future students as an easy yet robust text to assist them in their research journey

Thomas provides a clear, comprehensive text that is useful at a range of levels of study.

This is really an amazing book and really easy to follow. Students will love it.

I have used previous editions of this book. and always found it beneficial. Love this updated version. It is easy to use and understand for UG students yet it is still comprehensive.

This is an excellent book and fantastic for doing a research project. The only reason it is not adopted is because for this module the students do a scoping review rather than empirical research.

  • Additional advice on concluding, writing, and presenting research, using social media and digital methods, and understanding how to effectively work with supervisors
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15 Steps to Good Research

  • Define and articulate a research question (formulate a research hypothesis). How to Write a Thesis Statement (Indiana University)
  • Identify possible sources of information in many types and formats. Georgetown University Library's Research & Course Guides
  • Judge the scope of the project.
  • Reevaluate the research question based on the nature and extent of information available and the parameters of the research project.
  • Select the most appropriate investigative methods (surveys, interviews, experiments) and research tools (periodical indexes, databases, websites).
  • Plan the research project. Writing Anxiety (UNC-Chapel Hill) Strategies for Academic Writing (SUNY Empire State College)
  • Retrieve information using a variety of methods (draw on a repertoire of skills).
  • Refine the search strategy as necessary.
  • Write and organize useful notes and keep track of sources. Taking Notes from Research Reading (University of Toronto) Use a citation manager: Zotero or Refworks
  • Evaluate sources using appropriate criteria. Evaluating Internet Sources
  • Synthesize, analyze and integrate information sources and prior knowledge. Georgetown University Writing Center
  • Revise hypothesis as necessary.
  • Use information effectively for a specific purpose.
  • Understand such issues as plagiarism, ownership of information (implications of copyright to some extent), and costs of information. Georgetown University Honor Council Copyright Basics (Purdue University) How to Recognize Plagiarism: Tutorials and Tests from Indiana University
  • Cite properly and give credit for sources of ideas. MLA Bibliographic Form (7th edition, 2009) MLA Bibliographic Form (8th edition, 2016) Turabian Bibliographic Form: Footnote/Endnote Turabian Bibliographic Form: Parenthetical Reference Use a citation manager: Zotero or Refworks

Adapted from the Association of Colleges and Research Libraries "Objectives for Information Literacy Instruction" , which are more complete and include outcomes. See also the broader "Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education."

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How to Do Your Research Project: A Guide for Students

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how to do a good research project

Princeton Correspondents on Undergraduate Research

How to Make a Successful Research Presentation

Turning a research paper into a visual presentation is difficult; there are pitfalls, and navigating the path to a brief, informative presentation takes time and practice. As a TA for  GEO/WRI 201: Methods in Data Analysis & Scientific Writing this past fall, I saw how this process works from an instructor’s standpoint. I’ve presented my own research before, but helping others present theirs taught me a bit more about the process. Here are some tips I learned that may help you with your next research presentation:

More is more

In general, your presentation will always benefit from more practice, more feedback, and more revision. By practicing in front of friends, you can get comfortable with presenting your work while receiving feedback. It is hard to know how to revise your presentation if you never practice. If you are presenting to a general audience, getting feedback from someone outside of your discipline is crucial. Terms and ideas that seem intuitive to you may be completely foreign to someone else, and your well-crafted presentation could fall flat.

Less is more

Limit the scope of your presentation, the number of slides, and the text on each slide. In my experience, text works well for organizing slides, orienting the audience to key terms, and annotating important figures–not for explaining complex ideas. Having fewer slides is usually better as well. In general, about one slide per minute of presentation is an appropriate budget. Too many slides is usually a sign that your topic is too broad.

how to do a good research project

Limit the scope of your presentation

Don’t present your paper. Presentations are usually around 10 min long. You will not have time to explain all of the research you did in a semester (or a year!) in such a short span of time. Instead, focus on the highlight(s). Identify a single compelling research question which your work addressed, and craft a succinct but complete narrative around it.

You will not have time to explain all of the research you did. Instead, focus on the highlights. Identify a single compelling research question which your work addressed, and craft a succinct but complete narrative around it.

Craft a compelling research narrative

After identifying the focused research question, walk your audience through your research as if it were a story. Presentations with strong narrative arcs are clear, captivating, and compelling.

  • Introduction (exposition — rising action)

Orient the audience and draw them in by demonstrating the relevance and importance of your research story with strong global motive. Provide them with the necessary vocabulary and background knowledge to understand the plot of your story. Introduce the key studies (characters) relevant in your story and build tension and conflict with scholarly and data motive. By the end of your introduction, your audience should clearly understand your research question and be dying to know how you resolve the tension built through motive.

how to do a good research project

  • Methods (rising action)

The methods section should transition smoothly and logically from the introduction. Beware of presenting your methods in a boring, arc-killing, ‘this is what I did.’ Focus on the details that set your story apart from the stories other people have already told. Keep the audience interested by clearly motivating your decisions based on your original research question or the tension built in your introduction.

  • Results (climax)

Less is usually more here. Only present results which are clearly related to the focused research question you are presenting. Make sure you explain the results clearly so that your audience understands what your research found. This is the peak of tension in your narrative arc, so don’t undercut it by quickly clicking through to your discussion.

  • Discussion (falling action)

By now your audience should be dying for a satisfying resolution. Here is where you contextualize your results and begin resolving the tension between past research. Be thorough. If you have too many conflicts left unresolved, or you don’t have enough time to present all of the resolutions, you probably need to further narrow the scope of your presentation.

  • Conclusion (denouement)

Return back to your initial research question and motive, resolving any final conflicts and tying up loose ends. Leave the audience with a clear resolution of your focus research question, and use unresolved tension to set up potential sequels (i.e. further research).

Use your medium to enhance the narrative

Visual presentations should be dominated by clear, intentional graphics. Subtle animation in key moments (usually during the results or discussion) can add drama to the narrative arc and make conflict resolutions more satisfying. You are narrating a story written in images, videos, cartoons, and graphs. While your paper is mostly text, with graphics to highlight crucial points, your slides should be the opposite. Adapting to the new medium may require you to create or acquire far more graphics than you included in your paper, but it is necessary to create an engaging presentation.

The most important thing you can do for your presentation is to practice and revise. Bother your friends, your roommates, TAs–anybody who will sit down and listen to your work. Beyond that, think about presentations you have found compelling and try to incorporate some of those elements into your own. Remember you want your work to be comprehensible; you aren’t creating experts in 10 minutes. Above all, try to stay passionate about what you did and why. You put the time in, so show your audience that it’s worth it.

For more insight into research presentations, check out these past PCUR posts written by Emma and Ellie .

— Alec Getraer, Natural Sciences Correspondent

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How To Choose A Research Topic

Step-By-Step Tutorial With Examples + Free Topic Evaluator

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Expert Reviewer: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | April 2024

Choosing the right research topic is likely the  most important decision you’ll make on your dissertation or thesis journey. To make the right choice, you need to take a systematic approach and evaluate each of your candidate ideas across a consistent set of criteria. In this tutorial, we’ll unpack five essential criteria that will help you evaluate your prospective research ideas and choose a winner.

Overview: The “Big 5” Key Criteria

  • Topic originality or novelty
  • Value and significance
  • Access to data and equipment
  • Time limitations and implications
  • Ethical requirements and constraints

Criterion #1: Originality & Novelty

As we’ve discussed extensively on this blog, originality in a research topic is essential. In other words, you need a clear research gap . The uniqueness of your topic determines its contribution to the field and its potential to stand out in the academic community. So, for each of your prospective topics, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What research gap and research problem am I filling?
  • Does my topic offer new insights?
  • Am I combining existing ideas in a unique way?
  • Am I taking a unique methodological approach?

To objectively evaluate the originality of each of your topic candidates, rate them on these aspects. This process will not only help in choosing a topic that stands out, but also one that can capture the interest of your audience and possibly contribute significantly to the field of study – which brings us to our next criterion.

Research topic evaluator

Criterion #2: Value & Significance

Next, you’ll need to assess the value and significance of each prospective topic. To do this, you’ll need to ask some hard questions.

  • Why is it important to explore these research questions?
  • Who stands to benefit from this study?
  • How will they benefit, specifically?

By clearly understanding and outlining the significance of each potential topic, you’ll not only be justifying your final choice – you’ll essentially be laying the groundwork for a persuasive research proposal , which is equally important.

Criterion #3: Access to Data & Equipment

Naturally, access to relevant data and equipment is crucial for the success of your research project. So, for each of your prospective topic ideas, you’ll need to evaluate whether you have the necessary resources to collect data and conduct your study.

Here are some questions to ask for each potential topic:

  • Will I be able to access the sample of interest (e.g., people, animals, etc.)?
  • Do I have (or can I get) access to the required equipment, at the time that I need it?
  • Are there costs associated with any of this? If so, what are they?

Keep in mind that getting access to certain types of data may also require special permissions and legalities, especially if your topic involves vulnerable groups (patients, youths, etc.). You may also need to adhere to specific data protection laws, depending on the country. So, be sure to evaluate these aspects thoroughly for each topic. Overlooking any of these can lead to significant complications down the line.

Free Webinar: How To Find A Dissertation Research Topic

Criterion #4: Time Requirements & Implications

Naturally, having a realistic timeline for each potential research idea is crucial. So, consider the scope of each potential topic and estimate how long each phase of the research will take — from literature review to data collection and analysis, to writing and revisions. Underestimating the time needed for a research project is extremely common , so it’s important to include buffer time for unforeseen delays.

Remember, efficient time management is not just about the duration but also about the timing . For example, if your research involves fieldwork, there may specific times of the year when this is most doable (or not doable at all).  So, be sure to consider both time and timing for each of your prospective topics.

Criterion #5: Ethical Compliance

Failing to adhere to your university’s research ethics policy is a surefire way to get your proposal rejected . So, you’ll need to evaluate each topic for potential ethical issues, especially if your research involves human subjects, sensitive data, or has any potential environmental impact.

Remember that ethical compliance is not just a formality – it’s a responsibility to ensure the integrity and social responsibility of your research. Topics that pose significant ethical challenges are typically the first to be rejected, so you need to take this seriously. It’s also useful to keep in mind that some topics are more “ethically sensitive” than others , which usually means that they’ll require multiple levels of approval. Ideally, you want to avoid this additional admin, so mark down any prospective topics that fall into an ethical “grey zone”.

If you’re unsure about the details of your university’s ethics policy, ask for a copy or speak directly to your course coordinator. Don’t make any assumptions when it comes to research ethics!

Key Takeaways

In this post, we’ve explored how to choose a research topic using a systematic approach. To recap, the “Big 5” assessment criteria include:

  • Topic originality and novelty
  • Time requirements
  • Ethical compliance

Be sure to grab a copy of our free research topic evaluator sheet here to fast-track your topic selection process. If you need hands-on help finding and refining a high-quality research topic for your dissertation or thesis, you can also check out our private coaching service .

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 113 great research paper topics.

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One of the hardest parts of writing a research paper can be just finding a good topic to write about. Fortunately we've done the hard work for you and have compiled a list of 113 interesting research paper topics. They've been organized into ten categories and cover a wide range of subjects so you can easily find the best topic for you.

In addition to the list of good research topics, we've included advice on what makes a good research paper topic and how you can use your topic to start writing a great paper.

What Makes a Good Research Paper Topic?

Not all research paper topics are created equal, and you want to make sure you choose a great topic before you start writing. Below are the three most important factors to consider to make sure you choose the best research paper topics.

#1: It's Something You're Interested In

A paper is always easier to write if you're interested in the topic, and you'll be more motivated to do in-depth research and write a paper that really covers the entire subject. Even if a certain research paper topic is getting a lot of buzz right now or other people seem interested in writing about it, don't feel tempted to make it your topic unless you genuinely have some sort of interest in it as well.

#2: There's Enough Information to Write a Paper

Even if you come up with the absolute best research paper topic and you're so excited to write about it, you won't be able to produce a good paper if there isn't enough research about the topic. This can happen for very specific or specialized topics, as well as topics that are too new to have enough research done on them at the moment. Easy research paper topics will always be topics with enough information to write a full-length paper.

Trying to write a research paper on a topic that doesn't have much research on it is incredibly hard, so before you decide on a topic, do a bit of preliminary searching and make sure you'll have all the information you need to write your paper.

#3: It Fits Your Teacher's Guidelines

Don't get so carried away looking at lists of research paper topics that you forget any requirements or restrictions your teacher may have put on research topic ideas. If you're writing a research paper on a health-related topic, deciding to write about the impact of rap on the music scene probably won't be allowed, but there may be some sort of leeway. For example, if you're really interested in current events but your teacher wants you to write a research paper on a history topic, you may be able to choose a topic that fits both categories, like exploring the relationship between the US and North Korea. No matter what, always get your research paper topic approved by your teacher first before you begin writing.

113 Good Research Paper Topics

Below are 113 good research topics to help you get you started on your paper. We've organized them into ten categories to make it easier to find the type of research paper topics you're looking for.

Arts/Culture

  • Discuss the main differences in art from the Italian Renaissance and the Northern Renaissance .
  • Analyze the impact a famous artist had on the world.
  • How is sexism portrayed in different types of media (music, film, video games, etc.)? Has the amount/type of sexism changed over the years?
  • How has the music of slaves brought over from Africa shaped modern American music?
  • How has rap music evolved in the past decade?
  • How has the portrayal of minorities in the media changed?

music-277279_640

Current Events

  • What have been the impacts of China's one child policy?
  • How have the goals of feminists changed over the decades?
  • How has the Trump presidency changed international relations?
  • Analyze the history of the relationship between the United States and North Korea.
  • What factors contributed to the current decline in the rate of unemployment?
  • What have been the impacts of states which have increased their minimum wage?
  • How do US immigration laws compare to immigration laws of other countries?
  • How have the US's immigration laws changed in the past few years/decades?
  • How has the Black Lives Matter movement affected discussions and view about racism in the US?
  • What impact has the Affordable Care Act had on healthcare in the US?
  • What factors contributed to the UK deciding to leave the EU (Brexit)?
  • What factors contributed to China becoming an economic power?
  • Discuss the history of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies  (some of which tokenize the S&P 500 Index on the blockchain) .
  • Do students in schools that eliminate grades do better in college and their careers?
  • Do students from wealthier backgrounds score higher on standardized tests?
  • Do students who receive free meals at school get higher grades compared to when they weren't receiving a free meal?
  • Do students who attend charter schools score higher on standardized tests than students in public schools?
  • Do students learn better in same-sex classrooms?
  • How does giving each student access to an iPad or laptop affect their studies?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of the Montessori Method ?
  • Do children who attend preschool do better in school later on?
  • What was the impact of the No Child Left Behind act?
  • How does the US education system compare to education systems in other countries?
  • What impact does mandatory physical education classes have on students' health?
  • Which methods are most effective at reducing bullying in schools?
  • Do homeschoolers who attend college do as well as students who attended traditional schools?
  • Does offering tenure increase or decrease quality of teaching?
  • How does college debt affect future life choices of students?
  • Should graduate students be able to form unions?

body_highschoolsc

  • What are different ways to lower gun-related deaths in the US?
  • How and why have divorce rates changed over time?
  • Is affirmative action still necessary in education and/or the workplace?
  • Should physician-assisted suicide be legal?
  • How has stem cell research impacted the medical field?
  • How can human trafficking be reduced in the United States/world?
  • Should people be able to donate organs in exchange for money?
  • Which types of juvenile punishment have proven most effective at preventing future crimes?
  • Has the increase in US airport security made passengers safer?
  • Analyze the immigration policies of certain countries and how they are similar and different from one another.
  • Several states have legalized recreational marijuana. What positive and negative impacts have they experienced as a result?
  • Do tariffs increase the number of domestic jobs?
  • Which prison reforms have proven most effective?
  • Should governments be able to censor certain information on the internet?
  • Which methods/programs have been most effective at reducing teen pregnancy?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of the Keto diet?
  • How effective are different exercise regimes for losing weight and maintaining weight loss?
  • How do the healthcare plans of various countries differ from each other?
  • What are the most effective ways to treat depression ?
  • What are the pros and cons of genetically modified foods?
  • Which methods are most effective for improving memory?
  • What can be done to lower healthcare costs in the US?
  • What factors contributed to the current opioid crisis?
  • Analyze the history and impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic .
  • Are low-carbohydrate or low-fat diets more effective for weight loss?
  • How much exercise should the average adult be getting each week?
  • Which methods are most effective to get parents to vaccinate their children?
  • What are the pros and cons of clean needle programs?
  • How does stress affect the body?
  • Discuss the history of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
  • What were the causes and effects of the Salem Witch Trials?
  • Who was responsible for the Iran-Contra situation?
  • How has New Orleans and the government's response to natural disasters changed since Hurricane Katrina?
  • What events led to the fall of the Roman Empire?
  • What were the impacts of British rule in India ?
  • Was the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki necessary?
  • What were the successes and failures of the women's suffrage movement in the United States?
  • What were the causes of the Civil War?
  • How did Abraham Lincoln's assassination impact the country and reconstruction after the Civil War?
  • Which factors contributed to the colonies winning the American Revolution?
  • What caused Hitler's rise to power?
  • Discuss how a specific invention impacted history.
  • What led to Cleopatra's fall as ruler of Egypt?
  • How has Japan changed and evolved over the centuries?
  • What were the causes of the Rwandan genocide ?

main_lincoln

  • Why did Martin Luther decide to split with the Catholic Church?
  • Analyze the history and impact of a well-known cult (Jonestown, Manson family, etc.)
  • How did the sexual abuse scandal impact how people view the Catholic Church?
  • How has the Catholic church's power changed over the past decades/centuries?
  • What are the causes behind the rise in atheism/ agnosticism in the United States?
  • What were the influences in Siddhartha's life resulted in him becoming the Buddha?
  • How has media portrayal of Islam/Muslims changed since September 11th?

Science/Environment

  • How has the earth's climate changed in the past few decades?
  • How has the use and elimination of DDT affected bird populations in the US?
  • Analyze how the number and severity of natural disasters have increased in the past few decades.
  • Analyze deforestation rates in a certain area or globally over a period of time.
  • How have past oil spills changed regulations and cleanup methods?
  • How has the Flint water crisis changed water regulation safety?
  • What are the pros and cons of fracking?
  • What impact has the Paris Climate Agreement had so far?
  • What have NASA's biggest successes and failures been?
  • How can we improve access to clean water around the world?
  • Does ecotourism actually have a positive impact on the environment?
  • Should the US rely on nuclear energy more?
  • What can be done to save amphibian species currently at risk of extinction?
  • What impact has climate change had on coral reefs?
  • How are black holes created?
  • Are teens who spend more time on social media more likely to suffer anxiety and/or depression?
  • How will the loss of net neutrality affect internet users?
  • Analyze the history and progress of self-driving vehicles.
  • How has the use of drones changed surveillance and warfare methods?
  • Has social media made people more or less connected?
  • What progress has currently been made with artificial intelligence ?
  • Do smartphones increase or decrease workplace productivity?
  • What are the most effective ways to use technology in the classroom?
  • How is Google search affecting our intelligence?
  • When is the best age for a child to begin owning a smartphone?
  • Has frequent texting reduced teen literacy rates?

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How to Write a Great Research Paper

Even great research paper topics won't give you a great research paper if you don't hone your topic before and during the writing process. Follow these three tips to turn good research paper topics into great papers.

#1: Figure Out Your Thesis Early

Before you start writing a single word of your paper, you first need to know what your thesis will be. Your thesis is a statement that explains what you intend to prove/show in your paper. Every sentence in your research paper will relate back to your thesis, so you don't want to start writing without it!

As some examples, if you're writing a research paper on if students learn better in same-sex classrooms, your thesis might be "Research has shown that elementary-age students in same-sex classrooms score higher on standardized tests and report feeling more comfortable in the classroom."

If you're writing a paper on the causes of the Civil War, your thesis might be "While the dispute between the North and South over slavery is the most well-known cause of the Civil War, other key causes include differences in the economies of the North and South, states' rights, and territorial expansion."

#2: Back Every Statement Up With Research

Remember, this is a research paper you're writing, so you'll need to use lots of research to make your points. Every statement you give must be backed up with research, properly cited the way your teacher requested. You're allowed to include opinions of your own, but they must also be supported by the research you give.

#3: Do Your Research Before You Begin Writing

You don't want to start writing your research paper and then learn that there isn't enough research to back up the points you're making, or, even worse, that the research contradicts the points you're trying to make!

Get most of your research on your good research topics done before you begin writing. Then use the research you've collected to create a rough outline of what your paper will cover and the key points you're going to make. This will help keep your paper clear and organized, and it'll ensure you have enough research to produce a strong paper.

What's Next?

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Want to know the fastest and easiest ways to convert between Fahrenheit and Celsius? We've got you covered! Check out our guide to the best ways to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit (or vice versa).

These recommendations are based solely on our knowledge and experience. If you purchase an item through one of our links, PrepScholar may receive a commission.

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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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How to Do Research: A Step-By-Step Guide: Get Started

  • Get Started
  • 1a. Select a Topic
  • 1b. Develop Research Questions
  • 1c. Identify Keywords
  • 1d. Find Background Information
  • 1e. Refine a Topic
  • 2a. Search Strategies
  • 2d. Articles
  • 2e. Videos & Images
  • 2f. Databases
  • 2g. Websites
  • 2h. Grey Literature
  • 2i. Open Access Materials
  • 3a. Evaluate Sources
  • 3b. Primary vs. Secondary
  • 3c. Types of Periodicals
  • 4a. Take Notes
  • 4b. Outline the Paper
  • 4c. Incorporate Source Material
  • 5a. Avoid Plagiarism
  • 5b. Zotero & MyBib
  • 5c. MLA Formatting
  • 5d. MLA Citation Examples
  • 5e. APA Formatting
  • 5f. APA Citation Examples
  • 5g. Annotated Bibliographies

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Research Process Overview

Step 1.  Develop a topic Select a Topic | Develop Research Questions | Identify Keywords | Find Background Information | Refine a Topic

Step 2. Locate information Search Strategies | Books | eBooks | Articles  | Videos & Images | Databases | Websites | Grey Literature

Step 3. Evaluate and analyze information Evaluate Sources | Primary vs Secondary | Types of Periodicals

Step 4. Write, organize, and communicate information Take Notes | Outline the Paper | Incorporate Source Material

Step 5. Cite sources Avoid Plagiarism | Zotero & MyBib | MLA | APA | Chicago Style | Annotated Bibliographies

For research help,  use one of the following options:

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72 Easy Science Experiments Using Materials You Already Have On Hand

Because science doesn’t have to be complicated.

Easy science experiments including a "naked" egg and "leakproof" bag

If there is one thing that is guaranteed to get your students excited, it’s a good science experiment! While some experiments require expensive lab equipment or dangerous chemicals, there are plenty of cool projects you can do with regular household items. We’ve rounded up a big collection of easy science experiments that anybody can try, and kids are going to love them!

Easy Chemistry Science Experiments

Easy physics science experiments, easy biology and environmental science experiments, easy engineering experiments and stem challenges.

Skittles form a circle around a plate. The colors are bleeding toward the center of the plate. (easy science experiments)

1. Taste the Rainbow

Teach your students about diffusion while creating a beautiful and tasty rainbow! Tip: Have extra Skittles on hand so your class can eat a few!

Learn more: Skittles Diffusion

Colorful rock candy on wooden sticks

2. Crystallize sweet treats

Crystal science experiments teach kids about supersaturated solutions. This one is easy to do at home, and the results are absolutely delicious!

Learn more: Candy Crystals

3. Make a volcano erupt

This classic experiment demonstrates a chemical reaction between baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and vinegar (acetic acid), which produces carbon dioxide gas, water, and sodium acetate.

Learn more: Best Volcano Experiments

4. Make elephant toothpaste

This fun project uses yeast and a hydrogen peroxide solution to create overflowing “elephant toothpaste.” Tip: Add an extra fun layer by having kids create toothpaste wrappers for plastic bottles.

Girl making an enormous bubble with string and wire

5. Blow the biggest bubbles you can

Add a few simple ingredients to dish soap solution to create the largest bubbles you’ve ever seen! Kids learn about surface tension as they engineer these bubble-blowing wands.

Learn more: Giant Soap Bubbles

Plastic bag full of water with pencils stuck through it

6. Demonstrate the “magic” leakproof bag

All you need is a zip-top plastic bag, sharp pencils, and water to blow your kids’ minds. Once they’re suitably impressed, teach them how the “trick” works by explaining the chemistry of polymers.

Learn more: Leakproof Bag

Several apple slices are shown on a clear plate. There are cards that label what they have been immersed in (including salt water, sugar water, etc.) (easy science experiments)

7. Use apple slices to learn about oxidation

Have students make predictions about what will happen to apple slices when immersed in different liquids, then put those predictions to the test. Have them record their observations.

Learn more: Apple Oxidation

8. Float a marker man

Their eyes will pop out of their heads when you “levitate” a stick figure right off the table! This experiment works due to the insolubility of dry-erase marker ink in water, combined with the lighter density of the ink.

Learn more: Floating Marker Man

Mason jars stacked with their mouths together, with one color of water on the bottom and another color on top

9. Discover density with hot and cold water

There are a lot of easy science experiments you can do with density. This one is extremely simple, involving only hot and cold water and food coloring, but the visuals make it appealing and fun.

Learn more: Layered Water

Clear cylinder layered with various liquids in different colors

10. Layer more liquids

This density demo is a little more complicated, but the effects are spectacular. Slowly layer liquids like honey, dish soap, water, and rubbing alcohol in a glass. Kids will be amazed when the liquids float one on top of the other like magic (except it is really science).

Learn more: Layered Liquids

Giant carbon snake growing out of a tin pan full of sand

11. Grow a carbon sugar snake

Easy science experiments can still have impressive results! This eye-popping chemical reaction demonstration only requires simple supplies like sugar, baking soda, and sand.

Learn more: Carbon Sugar Snake

12. Mix up some slime

Tell kids you’re going to make slime at home, and watch their eyes light up! There are a variety of ways to make slime, so try a few different recipes to find the one you like best.

Two children are shown (without faces) bouncing balls on a white table

13. Make homemade bouncy balls

These homemade bouncy balls are easy to make since all you need is glue, food coloring, borax powder, cornstarch, and warm water. You’ll want to store them inside a container like a plastic egg because they will flatten out over time.

Learn more: Make Your Own Bouncy Balls

Pink sidewalk chalk stick sitting on a paper towel

14. Create eggshell chalk

Eggshells contain calcium, the same material that makes chalk. Grind them up and mix them with flour, water, and food coloring to make your very own sidewalk chalk.

Learn more: Eggshell Chalk

Science student holding a raw egg without a shell

15. Make naked eggs

This is so cool! Use vinegar to dissolve the calcium carbonate in an eggshell to discover the membrane underneath that holds the egg together. Then, use the “naked” egg for another easy science experiment that demonstrates osmosis .

Learn more: Naked Egg Experiment

16. Turn milk into plastic

This sounds a lot more complicated than it is, but don’t be afraid to give it a try. Use simple kitchen supplies to create plastic polymers from plain old milk. Sculpt them into cool shapes when you’re done!

Student using a series of test tubes filled with pink liquid

17. Test pH using cabbage

Teach kids about acids and bases without needing pH test strips! Simply boil some red cabbage and use the resulting water to test various substances—acids turn red and bases turn green.

Learn more: Cabbage pH

Pennies in small cups of liquid labeled coca cola, vinegar + salt, apple juice, water, catsup, and vinegar. Text reads Cleaning Coins Science Experiment. Step by step procedure and explanation.

18. Clean some old coins

Use common household items to make old oxidized coins clean and shiny again in this simple chemistry experiment. Ask kids to predict (hypothesize) which will work best, then expand the learning by doing some research to explain the results.

Learn more: Cleaning Coins

Glass bottle with bowl holding three eggs, small glass with matches sitting on a box of matches, and a yellow plastic straw, against a blue background

19. Pull an egg into a bottle

This classic easy science experiment never fails to delight. Use the power of air pressure to suck a hard-boiled egg into a jar, no hands required.

Learn more: Egg in a Bottle

20. Blow up a balloon (without blowing)

Chances are good you probably did easy science experiments like this when you were in school. The baking soda and vinegar balloon experiment demonstrates the reactions between acids and bases when you fill a bottle with vinegar and a balloon with baking soda.

21 Assemble a DIY lava lamp

This 1970s trend is back—as an easy science experiment! This activity combines acid-base reactions with density for a totally groovy result.

Four colored cups containing different liquids, with an egg in each

22. Explore how sugary drinks affect teeth

The calcium content of eggshells makes them a great stand-in for teeth. Use eggs to explore how soda and juice can stain teeth and wear down the enamel. Expand your learning by trying different toothpaste-and-toothbrush combinations to see how effective they are.

Learn more: Sugar and Teeth Experiment

23. Mummify a hot dog

If your kids are fascinated by the Egyptians, they’ll love learning to mummify a hot dog! No need for canopic jars , just grab some baking soda and get started.

24. Extinguish flames with carbon dioxide

This is a fiery twist on acid-base experiments. Light a candle and talk about what fire needs in order to survive. Then, create an acid-base reaction and “pour” the carbon dioxide to extinguish the flame. The CO2 gas acts like a liquid, suffocating the fire.

I Love You written in lemon juice on a piece of white paper, with lemon half and cotton swabs

25. Send secret messages with invisible ink

Turn your kids into secret agents! Write messages with a paintbrush dipped in lemon juice, then hold the paper over a heat source and watch the invisible become visible as oxidation goes to work.

Learn more: Invisible Ink

26. Create dancing popcorn

This is a fun version of the classic baking soda and vinegar experiment, perfect for the younger crowd. The bubbly mixture causes popcorn to dance around in the water.

Students looking surprised as foamy liquid shoots up out of diet soda bottles

27. Shoot a soda geyser sky-high

You’ve always wondered if this really works, so it’s time to find out for yourself! Kids will marvel at the chemical reaction that sends diet soda shooting high in the air when Mentos are added.

Learn more: Soda Explosion

Empty tea bags burning into ashes

28. Send a teabag flying

Hot air rises, and this experiment can prove it! You’ll want to supervise kids with fire, of course. For more safety, try this one outside.

Learn more: Flying Tea Bags

Magic Milk Experiment How to Plus Free Worksheet

29. Create magic milk

This fun and easy science experiment demonstrates principles related to surface tension, molecular interactions, and fluid dynamics.

Learn more: Magic Milk Experiment

Two side-by-side shots of an upside-down glass over a candle in a bowl of water, with water pulled up into the glass in the second picture

30. Watch the water rise

Learn about Charles’s Law with this simple experiment. As the candle burns, using up oxygen and heating the air in the glass, the water rises as if by magic.

Learn more: Rising Water

Glasses filled with colored water, with paper towels running from one to the next

31. Learn about capillary action

Kids will be amazed as they watch the colored water move from glass to glass, and you’ll love the easy and inexpensive setup. Gather some water, paper towels, and food coloring to teach the scientific magic of capillary action.

Learn more: Capillary Action

A pink balloon has a face drawn on it. It is hovering over a plate with salt and pepper on it

32. Give a balloon a beard

Equally educational and fun, this experiment will teach kids about static electricity using everyday materials. Kids will undoubtedly get a kick out of creating beards on their balloon person!

Learn more: Static Electricity

DIY compass made from a needle floating in water

33. Find your way with a DIY compass

Here’s an old classic that never fails to impress. Magnetize a needle, float it on the water’s surface, and it will always point north.

Learn more: DIY Compass

34. Crush a can using air pressure

Sure, it’s easy to crush a soda can with your bare hands, but what if you could do it without touching it at all? That’s the power of air pressure!

A large piece of cardboard has a white circle in the center with a pencil standing upright in the middle of the circle. Rocks are on all four corners holding it down.

35. Tell time using the sun

While people use clocks or even phones to tell time today, there was a time when a sundial was the best means to do that. Kids will certainly get a kick out of creating their own sundials using everyday materials like cardboard and pencils.

Learn more: Make Your Own Sundial

36. Launch a balloon rocket

Grab balloons, string, straws, and tape, and launch rockets to learn about the laws of motion.

Steel wool sitting in an aluminum tray. The steel wool appears to be on fire.

37. Make sparks with steel wool

All you need is steel wool and a 9-volt battery to perform this science demo that’s bound to make their eyes light up! Kids learn about chain reactions, chemical changes, and more.

Learn more: Steel Wool Electricity

38. Levitate a Ping-Pong ball

Kids will get a kick out of this experiment, which is really all about Bernoulli’s principle. You only need plastic bottles, bendy straws, and Ping-Pong balls to make the science magic happen.

Colored water in a vortex in a plastic bottle

39. Whip up a tornado in a bottle

There are plenty of versions of this classic experiment out there, but we love this one because it sparkles! Kids learn about a vortex and what it takes to create one.

Learn more: Tornado in a Bottle

Homemade barometer using a tin can, rubber band, and ruler

40. Monitor air pressure with a DIY barometer

This simple but effective DIY science project teaches kids about air pressure and meteorology. They’ll have fun tracking and predicting the weather with their very own barometer.

Learn more: DIY Barometer

A child holds up a pice of ice to their eye as if it is a magnifying glass. (easy science experiments)

41. Peer through an ice magnifying glass

Students will certainly get a thrill out of seeing how an everyday object like a piece of ice can be used as a magnifying glass. Be sure to use purified or distilled water since tap water will have impurities in it that will cause distortion.

Learn more: Ice Magnifying Glass

Piece of twine stuck to an ice cube

42. String up some sticky ice

Can you lift an ice cube using just a piece of string? This quick experiment teaches you how. Use a little salt to melt the ice and then refreeze the ice with the string attached.

Learn more: Sticky Ice

Drawing of a hand with the thumb up and a glass of water

43. “Flip” a drawing with water

Light refraction causes some really cool effects, and there are multiple easy science experiments you can do with it. This one uses refraction to “flip” a drawing; you can also try the famous “disappearing penny” trick .

Learn more: Light Refraction With Water

44. Color some flowers

We love how simple this project is to re-create since all you’ll need are some white carnations, food coloring, glasses, and water. The end result is just so beautiful!

Square dish filled with water and glitter, showing how a drop of dish soap repels the glitter

45. Use glitter to fight germs

Everyone knows that glitter is just like germs—it gets everywhere and is so hard to get rid of! Use that to your advantage and show kids how soap fights glitter and germs.

Learn more: Glitter Germs

Plastic bag with clouds and sun drawn on it, with a small amount of blue liquid at the bottom

46. Re-create the water cycle in a bag

You can do so many easy science experiments with a simple zip-top bag. Fill one partway with water and set it on a sunny windowsill to see how the water evaporates up and eventually “rains” down.

Learn more: Water Cycle

Plastic zipper bag tied around leaves on a tree

47. Learn about plant transpiration

Your backyard is a terrific place for easy science experiments. Grab a plastic bag and rubber band to learn how plants get rid of excess water they don’t need, a process known as transpiration.

Learn more: Plant Transpiration

Students sit around a table that has a tin pan filled with blue liquid wiht a feather floating in it (easy science experiments)

48. Clean up an oil spill

Before conducting this experiment, teach your students about engineers who solve environmental problems like oil spills. Then, have your students use provided materials to clean the oil spill from their oceans.

Learn more: Oil Spill

Sixth grade student holding model lungs and diaphragm made from a plastic bottle, duct tape, and balloons

49. Construct a pair of model lungs

Kids get a better understanding of the respiratory system when they build model lungs using a plastic water bottle and some balloons. You can modify the experiment to demonstrate the effects of smoking too.

Learn more: Model Lungs

Child pouring vinegar over a large rock in a bowl

50. Experiment with limestone rocks

Kids  love to collect rocks, and there are plenty of easy science experiments you can do with them. In this one, pour vinegar over a rock to see if it bubbles. If it does, you’ve found limestone!

Learn more: Limestone Experiments

Plastic bottle converted to a homemade rain gauge

51. Turn a bottle into a rain gauge

All you need is a plastic bottle, a ruler, and a permanent marker to make your own rain gauge. Monitor your measurements and see how they stack up against meteorology reports in your area.

Learn more: DIY Rain Gauge

Pile of different colored towels pushed together to create folds like mountains

52. Build up towel mountains

This clever demonstration helps kids understand how some landforms are created. Use layers of towels to represent rock layers and boxes for continents. Then pu-u-u-sh and see what happens!

Learn more: Towel Mountains

Layers of differently colored playdough with straw holes punched throughout all the layers

53. Take a play dough core sample

Learn about the layers of the earth by building them out of Play-Doh, then take a core sample with a straw. ( Love Play-Doh? Get more learning ideas here. )

Learn more: Play Dough Core Sampling

Science student poking holes in the bottom of a paper cup in the shape of a constellation

54. Project the stars on your ceiling

Use the video lesson in the link below to learn why stars are only visible at night. Then create a DIY star projector to explore the concept hands-on.

Learn more: DIY Star Projector

Glass jar of water with shaving cream floating on top, with blue food coloring dripping through, next to a can of shaving cream

55. Make it rain

Use shaving cream and food coloring to simulate clouds and rain. This is an easy science experiment little ones will beg to do over and over.

Learn more: Shaving Cream Rain

56. Blow up your fingerprint

This is such a cool (and easy!) way to look at fingerprint patterns. Inflate a balloon a bit, use some ink to put a fingerprint on it, then blow it up big to see your fingerprint in detail.

Edible DNA model made with Twizzlers, gumdrops, and toothpicks

57. Snack on a DNA model

Twizzlers, gumdrops, and a few toothpicks are all you need to make this super-fun (and yummy!) DNA model.

Learn more: Edible DNA Model

58. Dissect a flower

Take a nature walk and find a flower or two. Then bring them home and take them apart to discover all the different parts of flowers.

DIY smartphone amplifier made from paper cups

59. Craft smartphone speakers

No Bluetooth speaker? No problem! Put together your own from paper cups and toilet paper tubes.

Learn more: Smartphone Speakers

Car made from cardboard with bottlecap wheels and powered by a blue balloon

60. Race a balloon-powered car

Kids will be amazed when they learn they can put together this awesome racer using cardboard and bottle-cap wheels. The balloon-powered “engine” is so much fun too.

Learn more: Balloon-Powered Car

Miniature Ferris Wheel built out of colorful wood craft sticks

61. Build a Ferris wheel

You’ve probably ridden on a Ferris wheel, but can you build one? Stock up on wood craft sticks and find out! Play around with different designs to see which one works best.

Learn more: Craft Stick Ferris Wheel

62. Design a phone stand

There are lots of ways to craft a DIY phone stand, which makes this a perfect creative-thinking STEM challenge.

63. Conduct an egg drop

Put all their engineering skills to the test with an egg drop! Challenge kids to build a container from stuff they find around the house that will protect an egg from a long fall (this is especially fun to do from upper-story windows).

Learn more: Egg Drop Challenge Ideas

Student building a roller coaster of drinking straws for a ping pong ball (Fourth Grade Science)

64. Engineer a drinking-straw roller coaster

STEM challenges are always a hit with kids. We love this one, which only requires basic supplies like drinking straws.

Learn more: Straw Roller Coaster

Outside Science Solar Oven Desert Chica

65. Build a solar oven

Explore the power of the sun when you build your own solar ovens and use them to cook some yummy treats. This experiment takes a little more time and effort, but the results are always impressive. The link below has complete instructions.

Learn more: Solar Oven

Mini Da Vinci bridge made of pencils and rubber bands

66. Build a Da Vinci bridge

There are plenty of bridge-building experiments out there, but this one is unique. It’s inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s 500-year-old self-supporting wooden bridge. Learn how to build it at the link, and expand your learning by exploring more about Da Vinci himself.

Learn more: Da Vinci Bridge

67. Step through an index card

This is one easy science experiment that never fails to astonish. With carefully placed scissor cuts on an index card, you can make a loop large enough to fit a (small) human body through! Kids will be wowed as they learn about surface area.

Student standing on top of a structure built from cardboard sheets and paper cups

68. Stand on a pile of paper cups

Combine physics and engineering and challenge kids to create a paper cup structure that can support their weight. This is a cool project for aspiring architects.

Learn more: Paper Cup Stack

Child standing on a stepladder dropping a toy attached to a paper parachute

69. Test out parachutes

Gather a variety of materials (try tissues, handkerchiefs, plastic bags, etc.) and see which ones make the best parachutes. You can also find out how they’re affected by windy days or find out which ones work in the rain.

Learn more: Parachute Drop

Students balancing a textbook on top of a pyramid of rolled up newspaper

70. Recycle newspapers into an engineering challenge

It’s amazing how a stack of newspapers can spark such creative engineering. Challenge kids to build a tower, support a book, or even build a chair using only newspaper and tape!

Learn more: Newspaper STEM Challenge

Plastic cup with rubber bands stretched across the opening

71. Use rubber bands to sound out acoustics

Explore the ways that sound waves are affected by what’s around them using a simple rubber band “guitar.” (Kids absolutely love playing with these!)

Learn more: Rubber Band Guitar

Science student pouring water over a cupcake wrapper propped on wood craft sticks

72. Assemble a better umbrella

Challenge students to engineer the best possible umbrella from various household supplies. Encourage them to plan, draw blueprints, and test their creations using the scientific method.

Learn more: Umbrella STEM Challenge

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Science doesn't have to be complicated! Try these easy science experiments using items you already have around the house or classroom.

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  1. How to do research? and How to write a research paper?

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  1. A Beginner's Guide to Starting the Research Process

    Step 4: Create a research design. The research design is a practical framework for answering your research questions. It involves making decisions about the type of data you need, the methods you'll use to collect and analyze it, and the location and timescale of your research. There are often many possible paths you can take to answering ...

  2. How to Get Started With a Research Project: 12 Steps

    Just be careful that you don't end up stuck with an idea you want to do, but are afraid to do because you know someone else did it before. 4. Think from all angles. If you have at least a little direction based on the project guidelines, take that basic direction and start turning it over and over in your mind.

  3. How To Write A Research Paper (FREE Template

    We've covered a lot of ground here. To recap, the three steps to writing a high-quality research paper are: To choose a research question and review the literature. To plan your paper structure and draft an outline. To take an iterative approach to writing, focusing on critical writing and strong referencing.

  4. How to do a research project for your academic study

    Methodology - the methods you will use for your primary research. Findings and results - presenting the data from your primary research. Discussion - summarising and analysing your research and what you have found out. Conclusion - how the project went (successes and failures), areas for future study.

  5. Your Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Good Research Methodology

    Provide the rationality behind your chosen approach. Based on logic and reason, let your readers know why you have chosen said research methodologies. Additionally, you have to build strong arguments supporting why your chosen research method is the best way to achieve the desired outcome. 3. Explain your mechanism.

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    What to do. At its simplest, research planning involves the four distinct steps outlined below: orienting yourself to knowledge-creation; defining your research question; reviewing previous research on your question; and then choosing relevant data to formulate your own answers. Because the focus of this Guide is on planning a research project ...

  7. PDF How to write a research project

    approach to your research project. Don't try to do a month's work in a week: frame your project so that it fits the time you have. And remember, the more work you hope to do, the more time you'll need. Keep this in mind when you're planning your project. How to start your research project No matter how S.M.A.R.T. your goals, your

  8. How to Do Your Research Project

    Now in its fourth edition, the book provides easy to follow advice to navigate every step of your research project, from choosing your research question, deciding on your research design and methodology, collecting and analysing your data, and writing up your finished project. Presenting a clear and detailed roadmap to ensure you don't miss a ...

  9. Where to Begin

    Writing Your Research Question. Writing your research topic as a question helps you focus your topic in a clear and concise way. It ensure that your topic is arguable. While not all research papers have to offer an explicit argument, many do. For the above example, you might phrase your research question like this: "How has radiation therapy ...

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    Select the most appropriate investigative methods (surveys, interviews, experiments) and research tools (periodical indexes, databases, websites). Plan the research project. Retrieve information using a variety of methods (draw on a repertoire of skills). Refine the search strategy as necessary.

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    Work your way through interactive exercises for each stage of the research project roadmap and watch videos from your pocket supervisor, Gary Thomas. Explore real-world practice through case studies and journal articles. Reflect, revise, and take your learning on the go with worksheets and get to grips with key terms and concepts using digital ...

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    You will not have time to explain all of the research you did in a semester (or a year!) in such a short span of time. Instead, focus on the highlight(s). Identify a single compelling research question which your work addressed, and craft a succinct but complete narrative around it. You will not have time to explain all of the research you did.

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    Book description. This new edition of Nick Moore's highly successful "How to do Research" offers an accessible guide to the complete research process. It focuses on the day-to-day requirements of project, managing a piece of research right through from the formulation of the initial idea, to the development of a research proposal and then to ...

  14. How To Choose A Research Topic

    To recap, the "Big 5" assessment criteria include: Topic originality and novelty. Value and significance. Access to data and equipment. Time requirements. Ethical compliance. Be sure to grab a copy of our free research topic evaluator sheet here to fast-track your topic selection process.

  15. 10 Research Question Examples to Guide your Research Project

    The first question asks for a ready-made solution, and is not focused or researchable. The second question is a clearer comparative question, but note that it may not be practically feasible. For a smaller research project or thesis, it could be narrowed down further to focus on the effectiveness of drunk driving laws in just one or two countries.

  16. How to Improve Your Research Skills: 6 Research Tips

    How to Improve Your Research Skills: 6 Research Tips. Written by MasterClass. Last updated: Aug 18, 2021 • 3 min read. Whether you're writing a blog post or a short story, you'll likely reach a point in your first draft where you don't have enough information to go forward—and that's where research comes in. Whether you're writing ...

  17. 113 Great Research Paper Topics

    113 Great Research Paper Topics. One of the hardest parts of writing a research paper can be just finding a good topic to write about. Fortunately we've done the hard work for you and have compiled a list of 113 interesting research paper topics. They've been organized into ten categories and cover a wide range of subjects so you can easily ...

  18. How to Do Research: A Step-By-Step Guide: Get Started

    For research help, use one of the following options: Ask the GTL General Information & Research Help Phone: (607) 735-1862 Research Help Email: [email protected] For help registering a device, password reset and more: EC IT Resources and Services

  19. Welcome to the Purdue Online Writing Lab

    Mission. The Purdue On-Campus Writing Lab and Purdue Online Writing Lab assist clients in their development as writers—no matter what their skill level—with on-campus consultations, online participation, and community engagement. The Purdue Writing Lab serves the Purdue, West Lafayette, campus and coordinates with local literacy initiatives.

  20. What Is a Research Design

    Step 1: Consider your aims and approach. Step 2: Choose a type of research design. Step 3: Identify your population and sampling method. Step 4: Choose your data collection methods. Step 5: Plan your data collection procedures. Step 6: Decide on your data analysis strategies. Other interesting articles.

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  22. 70 Easy Science Experiments Using Materials You Already Have

    Go Science Kids. 43. "Flip" a drawing with water. Light refraction causes some really cool effects, and there are multiple easy science experiments you can do with it. This one uses refraction to "flip" a drawing; you can also try the famous "disappearing penny" trick.

  23. Research Objectives

    Research objectives describe what your research project intends to accomplish. They should guide every step of the research process, including how you collect data, build your argument, and develop your conclusions. Your research objectives may evolve slightly as your research progresses, but they should always line up with the research carried ...