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Brainstorming topics for mathematics papers

Coming up with a term paper topic is a source of enormous anxiety for many students, who are well aware that a great topic can lead to a great paper, while a not-so-great topic leads to a poorly received paper. But knowing what topic to pick is difficult at the best of times. For many, who don’t have a natural aptitude in mathematics (and even some who do!) choosing a mathematics paper topic can be an even more stressful task.

How to Choose a Topic

Unfortunately, many of these troubled students expect a topic to appear out of thin air. If you’ve been racking your brain to figure out what topic would be a great one for your mathematics research paper, we have a suggestion. Brainstorming is a wonderful strategy for coming up with a mathematics term paper topic, and with a few helpful tips it can be a very efficient process.

Term Paper Topic Categories

Before jumping right into trying to think of mathematics term paper topics, write each of these categories at the top of a separate piece of paper:

  • Advances Through History
  • Mathematics and World Events
  • Math and Technological Advances
  • Puzzling Mathematical Concepts
  • Math in Every Day Life

List, Sort, and Search

Now, for each of these topics, list a few ideas that come to mind. Aim for at least three and up to five different ideas related to each category.

Once you’ve filled out a few ideas for each category, read over them and circle at least three that you think sound especially interesting or intriguing.

Hit the library (or the Internet) armed with these particularly interesting thoughts and do some quick research to see if there are a few articles about them. The point of this exercise is not to begin your research, but simply to give yourself the opportunity to see what has already been written about the topic. Perhaps it’s as interesting as you imagined, or even more so! Or, perhaps after reading a bit you’ll realize it’s not for you. Discard those topics that don’t appeal to you.

Choose a Topic and Refine a Thesis

Once you’ve narrowed your options down, choose the one you’re most pleased with and try writing a thesis statement about it. It’s likely at this point that doing so will come easily, since you’ve already read a bit about it. If not, you may want to revisit your list and try out another one of your ideas.

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