Help! I Have a Paper Due and I Don’t Know Where to Start!
First, please take a moment to breathe. Got it? All right, now you need to understand that there are some really cool research topics for your 9th grade ELA research paper. You’ve probably been reading a novel in class, and you’ve been assigned to write a paper about that novel using a thesis statement.
Before we launch into discussing some of the cool research topics, let us first review the thesis statement in the way I learned it when I was preparing to write a paper back when I was in high school. While this is a little different from the way others teach you to write your statement, it helps you to focus your idea, and come up with a basic outline for the paper. There are two “A’s” and three “B’s.”
- Although - When you use ‘although,’ you’re saying that you disagree with a commonly held belief about what you’re going to discuss. You might have a phrase that begins: “Although Sophia left home to go to the store,”
- Actually - When you use the term ‘actually,’ you are putting forth your argument. The purpose of writing a research paper is to demonstrate not only that you can gather research together on a topic, but also that you can organize your thoughts about it, and analyze the thoughts and arguments others have put forward. Your actually phrase might be “…she had lied about where she was going and wound up in the wrong area…”
- Because, Because, Because - You’ll want to have at least three reasons you believe your thesis statement to be correct. All good arguments are backed up with evidence. For example “…because she wanted to see her boyfriend, because she got lost on the way there, and because there was a gang fight happening at the time.
Now, you won’t use all of this in your official thesis statement, but it will help you to narrow down your topic focus, and figure out what sorts of research materials you will require in your 9th grade ELA research paper. Your actual thesis statement will consist of a single sentence that will cover what the reader would expect to find in your paper.
Choosing Cool Research Topics
Finding your research topic doesn’t have to be hard, after all, most research papers are based on books you have read during the course of the year. For example, a popular 9th grade book is Earnest Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea and one of the themes of this book is excessive pride. If you’ve been told to complete a research project, you have a few options:
- You could compare the book you read for class to another book written by the same author. In order to narrow down your research topic, you’ll want to choose one theme from the book.
- You can compare the book you read for class to other books. For example, if you were working with the theme of pride from Old Man and the Sea, you could compare how Hemingway depicts this theme in his book, to how other authors depict the theme in their books.
- You could debunk commonly held beliefs about the book you were assigned for class. For example, in another commonly assigned 9th grade book, Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, many often argue that romance is one of the main themes. If you disagree, you could write a paper showing how class is the real theme of the piece.
- Depending upon your instructor and the specifications for your assignment, you might want to write a follow-up piece to the work. What happens next? Why do you believe that? What evidence is there in the text that you might be able to expect that?
Image courtesy of sxc.hu/gallery/Rybson
Creative Ideas for Presenting Your Research
Depending on your English instructor, you may find yourself able to get creative when presenting your research paper for a grade. You will want to check with your teacher to be sure that any of the following are permissible, but if they are, it can be a great way to put together your research (and can be a lot of fun).
- Create a newspaper covering the topics and related topics from the book. For example, If you read Les Miserables for your English class, then you can create a mock-up of a newspaper you might have found during the French Revolution.
- Put together a diorama. If you read, for example, The Hobbit, then putting together a diorama of one of the key scenes of the book and writing an explanation of why it is one of the key scenes can be a great project.
- Briefly retell the story from another perspective. If The Color Purple was the book assigned to your class, how would the story be different if told from the viewpoint of Nettie? How would it be different if Albert told the story? Why are these differences important, what do they show about the themes of the story?
- If your research paper involves focusing on character development through the story, create a timeline of events for the character. Include items on the timeline that happened before the piece began, and then speculate about what might happen after the piece ends.
Writing a research paper for your 9th grade English class does not have to be a drag. Have fun with your project. Don’t limit yourself to the obvious when it comes to putting together a presentation of your research material.
More Ideas That Rock
As if you didn’t have enough ideas for your research papers in the previous sections, here are a few more ways that you can explore the books most commonly assigned in 9th grade English classes.
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - If you’ve been given an assignment to do a research project for this book, there are many different topics to touch on–prejudice is one topic. Perhaps you can investigate other works where prejudice was a key theme. Alternatively, you can show ways in which the themes discussed in Lee’s work are applicable today. Are there any contemporary court cases where race or prejudice are a factor?
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding - Lord of the Flies deals with the nature of human nature. Without law and order, would chaos rein? Are there any thinkers who believe this? What do you think human nature is? Research the thoughts of others and compare their theories with Golding’s depictions in this story.
- Animal Farm by George Orwell - This short novel deals with the question of whether revolution really makes any progress. Do a little background research on the time in which Orwell wrote this book. Do you believe that revolution made things better or worse for those involved? Do you agree that if a revolution occurs that things will eventually become corrupt again? Why or why not?
- Our Town by Thornton Wilder - This play deals with themes including what it means to live a good life and the nature of community and its imperfections. In what ways does the story show how to live a good life? Is there anything that you could do now to appreciate life more? Are there other works out there with this theme?
A Final Note
While you’re reading any text, for school or for fun, get into the practice of coming up with cool research topics. 9th grade ELA research papers are a given part of your freshman year in high school. By keeping a running tab of research ideas, you’ll train your mind to be open to ideas when they hit and you’ll have a list of ideas ready for that paper when its assigned.
Levine, R.L. “Brainstorming Ideas.” https://www.writingresearchediting.com/blog/brainstorming-ideas
“Thesis Statement Basics” https://lrc.sierra.cc.ca.us/writingcenter/ThesisBasics.pdf