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Tips for Choosing a Subject

For this assignment, you are asked to take a stand on a controversial issue. Think about issues or policies that you have encountered at school, work, home, or in your community. Another tactic to gather possible topic ideas is to simply think about issues that you find yourself debating with the people in your life. Have you disagreed with someone about a parenting issue? Are you interested in learning more about a particularly controversial issue?

Life is full of arguable topics, and there are always two sides to an issue. Enjoy exploring your own opinions; however, be aware that this is not talk radio where it is fine to spew your views without fairly seeing the other side of the issue. To effectively convince someone to take your side, you must not offend them. One trick is to assume that most of your readers are on the other side and win them over to your side with your good reasoning and persuasive skills.

Topics that are off-limits

Do not write about abortion, gun control, religious issues, politics, capital punishment, the legalization of marijuana, conspiracy theories, or the cluster of issues relating to the right to die (i.e. euthanasia, mercy killing, and assisted suicide). Topics like human cloning, stem cell research, gay marriage, and homeschooling also might be problematic. I ask you not to write about these because they tend to be emotional or politically charged issues.

Instead, I want you to write about something that you can be objective about. You must fairly see both sides. (Down the road, peer feedback will be designed to help you see the other side — remember that this doesn’t mean that your essay won’t work! Your peers will only be trying to help you see the other side fairly.)

I hope to challenge you to write on a fresh issue. To see if your issue will work, see if you can put it in the form of a question: Should __(we do or not do something)___?

A few examples for you to consider writing about include the following successful topics:

Examples for argument/persuasive essay:

Should motorcycle riders be required by law to wear a helmet? Should we retest older drivers?
Should parents put limits on their kids’ screen time? Should more area college students choose community college over a four-year university?
Should vaccinations be mandatory? Should condoms be available in high schools?
Should plastic bags (or other pollutants) be banned? Should cell phones be banned when driving?


Your answer to those questions then becomes your thesis. For example, I might choose to write an essay that argues that everyone seeking a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license should be required to pass a motorcycle safety course.

The best topics are based on either personal experience or issues about which anyone might have an opinion.

Remember, too, that you can’t tackle a topic like a world hunger, social security, cloning, war, or health care in four typed, double-spaced pages. It’s generally better to choose a simple, clear issue and argue it well.

Consider going to the Opposing Viewpoints database from the library homepage and checking out the topics listed there. Conduct some sample searches to see what’s “out there.”


To meet the learning objectives for this topic, you will complete these activities. Print this page and use it as a checklist.

  • Review the Introduction and Objectives page.
  • Explore the links on the Learning Activities page.
  • Read the Online Lesson: Tips on Choosing a Research Topic.
  • Read the Research Topic Proposal Guidelines.
  • Access the Link: Library Tutorial Review.
  • Take the Library Research Quiz 2.
  • Complete the Research Topic Proposal and submit it to the dropbox.
  • Post any questions about the course or assignments in the Discussion | Help.

If you need similar but plagiarism-free “tips on choosing research paper”, then feel free to contact us!