Topic suggestions for Argumentative Research paper:

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Remember: for your preliminary assignment (and for the success of your argument paper), you must frame your issue in the form of a arguable thesis statement. Asking a question isn't a thesis. Stating a fact isn't a thesis. You must articulate a position on an issue. If you doubt your thesis, use the word "should" in the thesis to ensure that the thesis statement is arguing for or against something.

As for potential topics that could be framed in a thesis statement, you know that much exists on the web, in newspapers and magazines, and certainly on TV and radio that lend themselves to potential topic ideas. If you need help finding a topic, here are a couple of websites to help get you started:

  • Cal State at Long Beach Hot Topics page (this one has a large collection of links to other college and university argument topics websites)

  • The New York Times has a list of topics as good as any, but not every topic will work for our assignment. At minimum, the list should give you some ideas.

You could certainly just google "argument topics" or "research topics" and wander through the results until you hit upon something you believe might work.  Otherwise, consider the suggestions below.  (Each has been proposed as a topic for this assignment and I consider each a viable topic choice.)

Avoid topics of taste, fashion, and recreation:

Avoid topics that simply cannot work:

  1. History of the Hungarian Uprising of 1956: a matter of historical facts.
  2. Alternative versus rap:  a matter of personal music preference.
  3. We should punish drunk drivers: no controversy.
  4. Any religion-only topic, such as proving God exists or arguing for/against virtues of religion: matter of faith
  5. Why I am a parent: a matter of personal preference.

Also avoid topics that tend to have skimpy evidence on one side of the issue:

  1. We should teach creationism in high school or college biology classrooms (most scientists do not consider this science but religion).
  2. For the same reason, this won't work: We should not teach evolution in high school or college classrooms (objections are religious not scientific).
  3. Climate change is not real (97% of scientists do not agree--climate change denier websites are frequently funded by the fossil fuels industry).
  4. Arguing that tobacco products are not harmful falls into the same category as climate change: scientists are in agreement about dangers.
  5. Any conspiracy theories, such as 9/11 was an inside job, or Benghazi was a cover-up, or Kennedy was assassinated by the CIA.

Resist topics that are extremely volatile and perhaps have no neutral audience:

  1. Making abortion illegal (or keeping abortion legal): argument has been overworked and often depends on sensationalism.
  2. Gun control or conceal-carry laws have been really worked over. Avoid if you cannot treat rationally or bring anything new to the discussion.
  3. Drug testing for welfare recipients (or any short term political campaign hot button issues used to rile up the base). These only produce rants.
  4. Any issue about which you can only see one side. Check loaded language in thesis.

Topics that haven’t been tried that might work:

  1. Drug testing should be required only for those in public transportation sector jobs.
  2. Since minors can’t vote, marry, or drink, we should treat crimes committed by minors with more leniency than adults (right now, Supreme Court says minors can be tried as adults and receive the full penalty for crime).

  3. Students should not graduate from college until they pass a comprehensive exam in their major.

  4. Compulsory national service is needed. People ages 17 – 25 would serve country for two year stint. This includes military service or public service (6-week training course would count towards two-year time) such as forest ranger, park ranger, Outreach volunteer, Headstart volunteer, daycare worker, national guard, Red Cross, postal worker, food shelf and homeless shelter staffing, etc.

  5. Voting apathy won’t change until we overhaul the entire system: abolish the winner-take-all system. Allow up to one dozen candidates and use "ranked choice voting." And make voting compulsory.

Try your hand at discerning which of the following sample topic suggestions might work.