For instance, you might have more interest in the topic of involuntary celibacy than you do about North Korean labor camps, but you are likely to find more research sources devoted to the latter topic.
Depending on the word-count or page requirements of your assignment, an abundance of resources could have a huge impact on your ability to undertake the workload.
For instance, if your intended field of study is music theory, doing a research paper on the twelve-tone technique could be useful because it would cover an intricate yet controversial area of 20th century classical music.
Another thing to consider here is the amount of resources available on a given topic.
In other instances, your professor might give you a loosely defined range of topic types, but leave it to you to find an appropriate topic.
If this is the case, you should check with your professor to make sure that the objective is fully understood in advance of getting started on your work.
With that in mind, you could then read up on how that topic applied 250 years ago to see how things have changed and how they have remained the same, and from there construct a relevant research question.
For any research paper, the focus of your work will be driven by two primary elements: the topic and the issue.
If your professor leaves it up to you to choose your own research topic, the first options you should consider are topics of personal interest.
By compiling a research paper on a topic that you find interesting, you will not only have an easier time getting started on your assignment, but you will also have the chance to gain further knowledge in an area that could form the basis of your post-college career.