Encyclopedias and handbooks are a great source for paper topic ideas. Skim through relevant sections of an encyclopedia and note which articles or entries intrigue you.
Also use encyclopedias and handbooks to learn about your topic thoroughly. Writing a good quality research paper requires a thorough knowledge of your subject. Although in the sciences most of the research information will come from peer reviewed articles, you must also read beyond the research articles to get appropriate context and background. Encyclopedias and handbooks can give you a strong understanding of concepts and ideas which then allows you to understand how research article information fits together.
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