Let's face it--one of the toughest jobs of the student is to find a research paper topic, especially if your professor has assigned you a term paper with an open-ended subject. May I recommend archaeology as a starting point? People generally think of archaeology as simply a set of methods: "Have trowel, will travel" is the theme song for many an archaeological field worker. But in fact, the results of two hundred years of fieldwork means that archaeology is the study of a million years of human behavior, and as such it intersects evolution, anthropology, history, geology, geography, politics, and sociology. And that's just a start.
In fact, archaeology's breadth is why I was drawn to the study in the first place: you can just about study anything--even molecular physics or computer science--and still be an archaeologist. After more than fifteen years running this website, I've built a number of places which you can use as a jumping off point to a fascinating paper, whether you are in the field of archaeology or outside of it. And with any luck, you can have fun doing it.
I have organized the resources for this website using a broad areal coverage of world history, and in the meantime I've developed a handful of encyclopedic directories that will help you in your search for the perfect paper topic. In each pocket you'll find tidbits about ancient cultures and their archaeological sites compiled from provided references and other suggestions for further research. Somebody should benefit from my particular brand of lunacy!
The History of Humans on Planet Earth
The History of Humanity includes information on archaeological studies beginning with the very first stone tools of our human ancestors in the Stone Age of 2.5 million years ago, ends with medieval societies about 1500 AD and includes everything in between. Here you'll find information on our pre-human ancestors, as well as hunter-gatherers, first farming societies, and the rise of civilizations.
My collection of Ancient Civilizations brings together resources on Egypt, Greece, Persia, the Near East, the Incan and Aztec Empires, the Khmer, Indus and Islamic Civilizations, the Roman Empire, the Vikings and Moche and Minoans and others too many to mention.
The World Atlas of Archaeology
Want to study a particular country? The World Atlas of Archaeology is a great place to kick off your investigations: an atlas of archaeological sites and cultures in the world sorted by modern geographic continent and political country boundaries.
Interested in writing a biography of a famous archaeologist? Then the Biographies in Archaeology should be the starting place for you. There are nearly 500 biographical sketches listed in the Biographies pocket so far. In there you'll also find a Women in Archaeology section. I segregated the women out for my own nefarious purposes, and you might as well take advantage of it.
A Glossary of Ideas
If all else fails, use the Archaeology Dictionary, pick a letter at random and scroll down the entries. There are well over a thousand ideas listed here, and I bet anything that something will pique your interest.
Once you've chosen your topic, you can begin searching for information on which to write your essay. Good luck!