Five ocean research topics to inspire your next paper [guide for students]

Writing a great research paper is easier when you have a timely and focused topic. Our latest Global Research Report on ocean health by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI)™ identifies compelling insights that can be explored for your next research paper. Keep reading for ocean research topics and keywords that branch across many different disciplines—from business to economics to the hard sciences.

According to data scientists at Clarivate™ and Oregon State University, ocean science research articles have increased threefold between 2000 and 2020, demonstrating a marked interest in ocean health.

You can use the insights from Ocean Science: sustainability concerns add urgency for research to identify focused, relevant and compelling ocean research topics for your next paper.

Why write about ocean health?

You will write a better paper if you care about the topic. If you need a little help getting on board with the importance of the planet’s oceans, read this passage from the introduction of our latest ISI Global Research Report:

Earth’s oceans cover approximately 70% of its surface and ultimately reach a depth of ~11 km in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. (Mt. Everest, for comparison, reaches a height of “only” ~9 km.) Most of the life on Earth is in its oceans, whether it is the fish that provide sustenance to coastal communities, or the plant life that supplies much of the air that we breathe (at least 50% of photosynthesis happens in the ocean). The oceans also mediate how Earth’s climate changes, for example, by exchanging immense amounts of thermal energy and gasses, such as carbon dioxide and oxygen, with the atmosphere, or through the impact that ocean conditions have on the fate of polar ice (this ice reflects many of the sun’s warming rays back to space and provides essential habitats).

You can also read our blog about how the research was conducted and its results.

Here are five ocean research topics and keywords for you to explore

Learn more about any of the following topics by using the suggested keywords in your literature search.

The impact of microplastics on ocean health

According to our ISI report, there is an “astonishing growth” of research on microplastics and oceans, providing a rich array of content for you to explore for a paper on the impact of microplastics on ocean health.

Keywords to search as you gather information: Microplastics; Nanoplastics; “Plastic debris”; “Marine litter”

Energy resources and plant life

Research growth is happening in other areas, too. What has researchers so interested in these two ocean research topics?

Gas Hydrates: They reside in some marine sediments. Pro: Their carbon content makes them a valuable energy resource. Con: decomposition can release greenhouse gases

Keywords to use in your search: Hydrate Formation; Methane Hydrate; Hydrate Stability

Seagrasses: These are flowering plants that grow entirely underwater and contribute to the ocean ecosystem.

Keywords to use in your search: food webs; herbivory; marine phanerogams; Biofouling; Marine macroalgae; Seagrasses

Ocean health’s impact on island nations

Ocean research is globally connected and includes significant collaboration with island nations and territories. Possible topic for your paper: “Ocean health’s impact on island nations.”

Keywords to use in your search: Ocean health; Socio-ecological assessment; “island nations”; Ocean Health Index (OHI); ocean, countries

Best practices for sustaining the Blue Economy

Sustainability of the “Blue Economy” is dependent upon finding balance between mitigating climate change and maintaining jobs and other essential components of this growing economy. Possible topic for your paper: “Best practices for sustaining the Blue Economy.”

Keywords to use in your search: “blue economy”; ocean economy; coastal blue growth

Next steps for your ocean health topic

Once you have your topic and are sufficiently inspired, check out “How to write research papers that impress your professors.” This blog breaks down the tricky aspects of writing a research paper. It explains where to start, where to look and top tips for a fast yet robust research process.

Get more ideas for research papers by exploring ISI’s Global Research Reports and Insights papers, which include a variety of important, timely topics like climate change, ethnic diversity in STEM and the research performance of the G20 nations. You can also find more tips and techniques for producing great research papers by checking out Clarivate’s Research Smarter series. Our series includes blogs about using reference management software, finding relevant papers in a research field and how to get noticed by journal editors.