As you read, ideas and questions may strike you - write them down, or you'll lose track of them. Look for issues which interest you, which arouse your curiosity or your passion (no, not that kind of passion, unless it's a human sexuality course). Consider the audience for your research paper: what kinds of things have been discussed in class that seemed to interest the class and the instructor? What kinds of issues were touched upon but could use further study and elaboration?

Here is advice from Colgate University on this process:

Write down all the ideas that occur to you--the brilliant insights, the stupid questions, the complaints, the emotions, the reactions, the things you're reminded of—everything. (Typically these ideas will crowd into your head as you write out your answers to the prewriting tasks. Instead of pushing them aside, forgetting them, or telling yourself that they are irrelevant, write them down. Later you may find relevance to things that at first seemed immaterial.) (

Also see the links to Planning and Starting the Writing Process (p. 52), especially the Ideas section and Reading Techniques and Journal Writing.

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