Argumentative Research Paper Topics

Argumentative Research Paper TopicsNeed ideas on argumentative research paper topics? There are so many you can choose from. The best topic is one that you truly care about, and one that you’re prepared to research. You’ll have to back up your claim with lots of evidence and support. When writing a research paper on argumentative topics you should focus on picking a topic that is current and relevant to society and can be argued logically.

100 Argumentative Research Paper Topics and Ideas:

  1. Abortion
  2. Affirmative Action
  3. Alcohol Advertising
  4. Alternative Fuels
  5. Alternative Medicine
  6. Animal Testing, Animal Rights, Animal Welfare
  7. Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia
  8. Athletes as Role Models
  9. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  10. Campaign Finance Reform
  11. Capital Punishment
  12. Cashless Society
  13. Changing Job Market
  14. Child Care
  15. Child Labor
  16. Cloning and Genetic Engineering
  17. Community College Standards
  18. Crime in the Neighborhoods
  19. Crimes against the Elderly
  20. Criminal Psychology
  21. Cults
  22. Cultural Diversity
  23. Curfews
  24. Divorce
  25. Does a College Education Pay?
  26. Downtown Renovation and Urban Renewal
  27. Dress Codes and School Uniforms
  28. Drinking on Campus
  29. Drug Testing in the Workplace
  30. Drunk Driving
  31. Dual Career Families and Working Mothers
  32. Dual Enrollment
  33. Eating Disorders
  34. Education for Homeless Children
  35. Election Reform
  36. Electronic Copyright and Piracy
  37. Emerging Infectious Disease and Epidemics
  38. Energy Sources and Energy Use
  39. English Only Movement
  40. Ethics of Organ Transplantation
  41. Ethics of Politicians
  42. Ethnic Cleansing
  43. Food and Drug Administration Approvals
  44. Fitness and Children
  45. Flexible Work Schedules
  46. Food Safety
  47. Gambling
  48. Gangs
  49. Gender Issues
  50. Glass Ceiling
  51. Green Company Policies
  52. Greenhouse Effect
  53. Gun Control
  54. Hazardous Waste
  55. Health Care Reform
  56. Homelessness
  57. Honor System in Colleges
  58. Human Rights and Prisoners
  59. Hunger
  60. Immigration Reform
  61. Income Gap
  62. Media Bias
  63. Medical Marijuana
  64. Mergers and Megacompanies
  65. NAFTA
  66. Non-traditional Families
  67. Ozone Layer
  68. Police Brutality
  69. Political Correctness
  70. Rape
  71. Recycling
  72. Road Rage
  73. Same-Sex Marriage
  74. School Choice and School Vouchers
  75. School Prayer
  76. School Violence
  77. Sex and Violence on TV
  78. Sex Education
  79. Sex Offender Registries
  80. Sexual Harassment
  81. Single Sex Education
  82. Social Security
  83. Sports and Health Benefits
  84. Sports Arenas
  85. Standardized Testing
  86. State Lotteries
  87. Suicide in Elderly
  88. Superstores
  89. Tax Reform
  90. Term Limits
  91. Tobacco Regulations
  92. Tort Reform
  93. Web TV
  94. Welfare Reform
  95. Women Athletics
  96. Work Ethics
  97. World Population and Hunger
  98. World Trade and Globalization
  99. Year-Round Schools
  100. Youth Crime

1. Abortion

Abortion can be an emotional issue, with proponents from each side totally convinced that they are right, and with many unwilling to consider opposing viewpoints. Your argument will be more convincing if you avoid the emotional components and stick to the facts. Try to present both sides of the argument; then demonstrate why your position is preferable. Because so much has been written, you should avoid information overload by narrowing your topic to one issue. Some argumentative research paper topics related to abortion are:

  • Abortion after Rape or Incest
  • Birth Control
  • Early Termination of Pregnancy
  • Eugenic Abortion and Impaired Fetus
  • Parental Rights and Abortion
  • Parental Rights of Child Under 18
  • Partial-Birth Abortion
  • Pro-choice Movement
  • Pro-life Movement
  • Right to Life
  • RU 486 Abortion Pill
  • Teenage Abortions and Child Mothers
  • Therapeutic Abortion and Mother’s Health

2. Affirmative Action

Affirmative action began in the mid-twentieth century, when schools and employers were required to adopt policies that would make up for past discrimination. There is plenty of information; in fact, the biggest problem with this topic is that there is too much information. You can solve this problem by narrowing your topic to a specific minority group (gender, race), industry, or location. Also consider job discrimination against a religious group, people who are overweight, or the physically handicapped. Example argumentative research paper topics related to affirmative action:

  • Affirmative Action and African Americans
  • Hispanics and Employment Discrimination
  • University Quotas
  • Job Discrimination
  • Women and Employment
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—EEOC

3. Alcohol Advertising

Beer advertisements are synonymous with sports events. Some people watch the Super Bowl to see what Budweiser™ is doing next. What is the impact of advertising on alcohol consumption? Major issues include the following:

  • Has advertising created a subtle link between alcohol and sports?
  • Is advertising a major influence on underage drinking?
  • Is it fair or advantageous to require that equal time be given to anti-alcohol advertising?
  • Should advertisements be restricted to journals and television shows that children won’t see?
  • Should beer be treated the same as hard liquor? Should wine?
  • Voluntary Alcohol Advertising Standards for Children Act

4. Alternative Fuels

Vehicles are a major consumer of oil, a fossil fuel. At the current rate of consumption, the world’s oil resources will be gone in 100 years. You might argue whether we should be using or requiring alternative fuels, or you might consider which ones to try.

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of each type of fuel?
  • Is it really renewable?
  • What is its effect on the environment?
  • Will it be affordable in future?

Some alternative fuels you might consider are hydrogen, methanol, natural gas, and solar power. Although electricity is not an alternative fuel in itself, electric or hybrid cars are an alternative use of current fuel.

5. Alternative Medicine

Although most U.S. physicians limit their recommendations to traditional Western practices, other treatments have been used around the world for centuries. Folk medicine, Far Eastern medicine, and chiropractics all have their proponents.

  • Consider first: What is alternative medicine?
  • In what ways are particular treatments effective or ineffective?
  • Should these treatments be regulated?
  • Should health insurance cover alternative medicine?
  • Should physicians learn and include alternative treatments along with traditional medicine? If they do, should they inform patients?

To narrow your topic, you might choose one specific treatment, such as acupuncture, hypnosis, marijuana use, Reiki, meditation, homeopathic medicine, or holistic medicine.

6. Animal Testing, Animal Rights, Animal Welfare

Although the use of animals in research can strike an emotional chord, you can write a more persuasive paper if you consider the topic from a scientific point of view. Consider alternatives such as computer models, testing on cell cultures, and human volunteers. The biomedical community attempts to use lesser species, such as rats rather than dogs; sea slugs rather than rats; or horseshoe crabs rather than rabbits.

  • Is it necessary to use animals in “cosmetic” and other product research?
  • Should animals be used in developing new techniques and drugs? Why or why not? Are the results transferable to humans?
  • Would you be willing to be the subject of a new treatment that has been developed on a computer and never tested on animals?

7. Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia

Dr. Jack Kevorkian has been in the news for years for providing the terminally ill with the means to commit suicide. Is he a murderer or a hero? What ethical issues are at stake here? What legal ones? The courts are trying to decide if assisted suicide is really suicide or murder. Consider some of the following argumentative research paper topics:

  • Do people have a right to die or an obligation to live?
  • Should the government interfere in this matter?
  • What are the alternatives to assisted suicide?
  • If assisted suicide becomes legal, what safeguards should be taken to ensure that only the terminally ill and not the temporarily depressed are aided in hurrying their demise?

8. Athletes as Role Models

When a well-known athlete resorts to violence, it becomes a headline issue. Are athletes more prone to using drugs or violence than the general population? Do bodybuilding drugs such as steroids cause shorter tempers? When an athlete accepts a multi-million-dollar contract, does it obligate him or her to be a role model for admirers? You might consider the entire question of celebrities and the right to privacy, or narrow your topic to certain famous cases such as:

  • O. J. Simpson
  • Charles Barkley
  • Warren Moon, or
  • Mike Tyson.

9. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Find a focus for this large topic. Parents are concerned that teachers who cannot deal with unruly students label them as ADD. Schools are concerned that the medication is not being given properly. This condition is so well known that the acronym alone will bring up plenty of information. It is better to use the complete term, however.

  • How does attention deficit hyperactivity disorder affect learning?
  • Are too many students taking Ritalin? Is it a cop-out for teachers? Parents? Doctors? What are the side effects with continual use?
  • Should people with ADHD be classified as disabled? Receive special education in school? Have special privileges? Take standardized tests?
  • What are the issues involved in adult ADD?

10. Campaign Finance Reform

Ex-President Bill Clinton was accused of inviting people to stay in the White House in exchange for contributions to the Democrat Party. Ralph Nader hoped to get 5 percent of the popular vote in the 2000 presidential election to qualify for federal campaign funds. Republican candidates for president dropped out of the race early because they could not compete with George W. Bush’s fundraising. There are many issues to consider here:

  • Has fundraising become the focus of political parties, before ethics and issues?
  • What influence do major contributors have on political issues?
  • Should non-U.S. companies be allowed to donate to U.S. politicians? Or out-of state companies to local politicians?
  • Should giving be limited by dollar amounts?
  • Should people be allowed to fund themselves? Does this allow the rich more opportunity in politics?

11. Capital Punishment

Capital punishment is an emotional issue, which you must try to evaluate objectively. Try to narrow the topic so you won’t be overwhelmed with information and so that you present both sides of the issue. Possible argumentative research paper topics related to capital punishment are:

  • Is the death penalty cruel and unusual punishment?
  • Does capital punishment deter murder?
  • What is the purpose of the death sentence: prevention or punishment?
  • Are a disproportionate number of blacks sentenced to death?
  • Is it inhumane to hold a prisoner on death row for years?
  • Should women be on death row?
  • How likely is it that an innocent person could be executed?

12. Cashless Society

Money has evolved. In the past, we had bartering, coins of valuable metals, paper representing those metals, and most recently paper based only on trust. Are we now headed for a moneyless society, in which financial wealth will be imbedded in a microchip? Has the electronic age influenced this development? Possibilities for narrowing your topic:

  • Debit Cards, Credit Cards, E-money
  • Cash Cards, Smart Cards, ATM
  • Electronic Commerce, Digital Cash
  • Electronic Funds Transfer
  • Electronic Benefit Transfer
  • Cashless Society

13. Changing Job Market

Downsizing and changes caused by technology and tenure are reshaping the face of the U.S. workforce. A thriving profession may become saturated with trained workers, forcing some to find a new field. The lines between blue-collar and white-collar workers are graying. In a short paper, select a single issue to write on or argue. Newspapers and journals will be the best source, although many books have good background information and statistics. Suggestions for narrowing your topic:

  • Blue Collar/White Collar Workers and Change
  • Employment) and Security/Tenure/Scheduling
  • Technology and Jobs and Change
  • Work Force and Effects of Social Change

14. Child Care

Some studies suggest that good, quality child care can be more beneficial to children than staying at home with their mothers.

  • What constitutes good, quality child care?
  • Do employers have a stake in child care?
  • Family and Medical Leave Act 1993
  • How much work time and productivity are lost when there is a lack of child care?
  • Might corporate downsizing affect employer-supported day care?
  • What are some alternative courses businesses can take to make child care easier for working parents?

Use statistics such as the percentage of single parents and dual-worker families, the changes in juvenile delinquency, standardized test scores, and absenteeism.

15. Child Labor

Children in some Third World countries are spending long hours making soccer balls and action figures for children in the United States to play with. They may sit at a sewing machine or stand at a loom all day for pennies, making designer clothing or carpets.

  • What is our responsibility to these children?
  • Are we helping them or harming them by buying the products they make?
  • Should the United States refuse to do business with countries using child labor?
  • Should individuals learn which companies employ child labor and boycott them?
  • Are children being required to work here in the United States to help migrant farm families or those who do piece work at home?

16. Cloning and Genetic Engineering

Genetic research is a multifaceted, controversial topic of growing concern. Although it applies to plants, human beings, and other animals, it becomes particularly controversial when applied to humans.

  • What are the ethical, moral, legal, and social issues to consider?
  • Do we make genetic modifications using modern biotechnology just because we can, or are we “playing God?”
  • Where should we draw the line: genetic engineering testing and cloning to cure or prevent diseases?
  • Will this result in more abortions or more suicides when someone is told they carry the gene for a terrible disease?
  • Will there be unfair discrimination based on differences such as sex, race, or income?

17. Community College Standards

Are community college standards as high as those of four-year colleges? Find statistics on the drop-out or success rates of community college students who transfer to a four-year college. Do all credits transfer? Should they? The criteria will vary by state. What should be the purpose of a community college? What do you see as the future of the community college in the next century? You might want to include the reasons for choosing a community college rather than a four-year college:

  • Cost
  • Family obligations
  • Availability of courses
  • Bridge for high school underachievers
  • Certificate courses

18. Crime in the Neighborhoods

This is a great narrowed topic (from crime). There are many resources, and you can find out what is going on close to home. The main body of materials will come from journals and newspapers, mostly because you want to get the newest information. Let’s forget about gangs and deal with other crime. This would be an opportunity to telephone your local mall manager and ask how mall security copes with crime, especially at busy shopping times of the year. He or she may be able to give you statistics. Watch the holiday papers for the list of hints shoppers can follow to keep from becoming victims:

  • What kinds of crimes are businesses experiencing?
  • What is management doing to make life safer for their businesses and for the customers who shop there?
  • How can we keep from being victims as we walk to our cars?

You can interview someone at your local police department about residential crime.

  • Ask about trends and prevention and arrest rates.
  • Ask what kinds of crimes neighborhoods are contending with.
  • Ask how they are dealing with these crimes.

19. Crimes against the Elderly

The elderly are at a higher risk of victimization by both strangers and family. Strangers perpetrate scams, assault, robbery, and rape. Crime or abuse by persons known to the elderly can be psychological, physical, material, or financial. These crimes are committed generally by members of the family or by caregivers. Is failure to give adequate pain medication to the elderly considered to be abuse? Decide on the focus your argument or research will take; then select keywords. There is plenty of information on all aspects of this broad topic. Suggestions for argumentative research paper topics related to crimes against the elderly:

  • Elder Abuse (Physical, Mental, Psychological, Material, etc.)
  • Scams and Elderly
  • Violent Crime and Elderly (might use a specific crime, like Aggravated Assault)

20. Criminal Psychology

Consider the how, why, who, background, and causes for behavior of criminals. What makes one person become an upstanding citizen, while another in seemingly identical circumstances turns to crime? Forensic psychology is a relatively new field of study that examines questions like these. Related argumentative research paper topics:

  • Causes of Crime
  • Forensic Psychiatry
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Psychopathology

21. Cults

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (3d ed.), a cult is a religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false. Its followers are under the guidance of an authoritarian, charismatic leader, and are often living communally. Consider the following argumentative research paper topics:

  • Are cults protected by Freedom of Religion?
  • What rights have others (parents, authorities) to try to bring cult members back into the mainstream?
  • What methods are used to reclaim these members? Are they legal? Does the end justify the means?
  • Are cults dangerous to society? To their members?

22. Cultural Diversity

Not too long ago, immigrants became completely assimilated into American society and attempted to lose their own ethnic identity. Today, people from different ethnic backgrounds feel that it is important to preserve their history. Large ethnic groups living together are a force to be considered. As immigrant populations reach a critical mass, especially in large cities, is the “melting pot” transforming them, or are they transforming U.S. society? What will the impact of these groups be in the future? This is a great topic. Try to put yourself in both situations (as an immigrant and as a native born person) so you can see both sides of this issue. Consider the following argumentative research paper topics:

  • Should immigrants be forced to assimilate into U.S. society? If they do not, do they still realize the American dream?
  • Is the huge influx of immigrants into U.S. cities causing “white flight?” If so, how will this affect present and the future assimilation of these immigrants into U.S. society?
  • In what ways does the influx of poor immigrants strain municipal budgets? What should be done?
  • In what ways should people of different nationalities integrate into the community? Should they retain their own cultural differences?
  • How should adjustment to a new country be evaluated?
  • Does an ethnic neighborhood of the twenty-first century invite prejudice?
  • How is the diversity of many peoples a positive force in U.S. society? A negative force?

23. Curfews

Curfews originated in England in the eleventh century. When the church bells rang at 8:00 P.M., all fires were to be extinguished and the people had to go to bed. This rule was established to prevent insurrection and had the added benefit of diminishing the chance of fire, which could destroy a whole village. Nowadays curfews are established to prevent juvenile delinquency. Curfews for all ages are also used to deter crime in areas of civil unrest. They can be instituted after a natural disaster such as a hurricane or a fire.

  • Is this a violation of teenagers’ rights or a good solution to a growing problem
  • Is it discrimination? Consider the various laws.
  • In war-torn countries they might be used to control conspiracy. Is a curfew defensible under these circumstances?

24. Divorce

Under no-fault divorce, which exists in most states, fault on the part of either spouse need not be shown or proved. One or both parties simply claim either “irreconcilable” differences or that the marriage has “irretrievably” broken down.

  • Is this too easy to divorce?
  • How has no-fault divorce affected the family?
  • What role should religious institutions and the government play in divorce?
  • What is the history of no-fault divorce?
  • What are its advantages and disadvantages?
  • What is the law about divorce in your state? How does it compare to other states?

25. Does a College Education Pay?

It takes at least four years to earn a bachelor’s degree, four years during which the student is spending money rather than earning it.

  • How important is a college education?
  • Does one need a college education to be financially successful?
  • Does it really make a difference in earnings, or would four years of experience be more advantageous?
  • Is education imperative to get and keep a particular job?
  • What are the long-term financial rewards?

26. Downtown Renovation and Urban Renewal

Suburban sprawl has taken many better-paid, better-educated families out of the city, leaving behind those who cannot afford to move. Many stores and businesses have followed, leaving city downtowns devastated. Is there any hope for the cities?

  • What are the proposals for renovation in your town? Is spending tax dollars for such renovation a wise use of resources?
  • Will this renovation bring money into the city? Revitalize downtown?
  • How successful have downtown renewals been in other major cities? Compare your city with other urban renewal projects. (Denver and Baltimore are good examples.)
  • Compare cities and suburbs.
  • Consider the effect of malls and superstores like Wal-Mart™ on downtown businesses.

27. Dress Codes and School Uniforms

Do clothes make the person? Some schools are turning to school uniforms to downplay differences among students. These differences could be cultural, economic, or social. At the same time, businesses that have had dress codes are now more casual. There are many argumentative research paper topics to consider in this issue:

  • Do uniforms improve attitudes and behavior in the public schools?
  • Do school uniforms infringe on students’ rights to personal expression?
  • Can school uniforms decrease violence in schools?
  • What is the federal government’s policy toward school uniforms?
  • Do uniforms create a sense of unity in the workplace?
  • How about pro-facto uniforms, such as everyone wearing a business suit to work?
  • Does casual dress in the workplace promote a casual attitude toward the work being done?

Be sure to consider the psychological studies.

28. Drinking on Campus

Drinking alcoholic beverages has become a rite of passage for young adults. College students seem especially to participate in binge drinking.

  • What drives students to drink?
  • Should alcohol be allowed on campus?
  • Is a college responsible for the behavior of its students?
  • What responsibilities do the drinking student’s friends have?
  • Do fraternities and sororities contribute to the problem?
  • Would a “safe place” such as a bar on campus help control or encourage drinking problems?
  • Does binge drinking when young predispose one to alcoholism?

29. Drug Testing in the Workplace

Many businesses require pre-employment drug testing, or they may make random checks of employees. Consider some of the following argumentative research paper topics:

  • Is mandatory drug testing an invasion of a worker’s privacy?
  • Is drug testing an effective deterrent to illegal drug use?
  • Should a worker be reprimanded or punished for something he or she does on private time?
  • How accurate are drug tests?
  • Should drug tests be given randomly or only when there is indication of abuse?
  • Should those with certain critical jobs be subject to tougher scrutiny? Consider doctors, pilots, bus drivers, and air traffic controllers.

30. Drunk Driving

For years, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has been lobbying to enact tougher drunk driving standards, and their efforts are making inroads. States that don’t comply with federal standards may have federal highway funds withheld.

  • What is the current legal definition of drunk driving in your state? Are the current laws too strict or too lenient? Why?
  • Should we allow people to drink and drive but punish them more severely when they have an accident?
  • Do open container laws help curtail drinking and driving?
  • Should drunk drivers, like drug dealers, have their vehicles confiscated?
  • What other options might there be to the current laws?
  • You might approach this as a state-to-state comparison or as a states’ rights issue.
  • You might also look at the laws in other countries.

31. Dual Career Families and Working Mothers

What impact have two-career families had on society? Some areas of impact are:

  • Shopping: Some stores are now open 24 hours a day, more people are shopping online, and groceries can be delivered.
  • Eating out.
  • Handling sick family members.
  • Getting repairs done.
  • Who is doing the housework and/or raising the children? Has this changed the attitudes of women toward men and vice versa?
  • What are the costs of employment?
  • What is the real value of the second income after subtracting the costs of employment.
  • What is the impact on children/families?
  • Job transfers are also an issue. When one spouse has an attractive offer but has to relocate, what should the other do?

32. Dual Enrollment

Dual credit/dual enrollment/concurrent enrollment. These terms refer to college credit for high school students who take college classes instead of high school ones and get credit for both. This option is becoming more available. One of the most attractive benefits of taking early credit is that it saves money on college costs. A student can conceivably enter college with 15 or more credits. On the other hand, a student may find the college class too difficult and be unable to graduate from high school on schedule.

  • Do students learn everything they need if they take one class rather than two?
  • Are students emotionally and mentally ready to learn at a college level when they are still in high school?
  • Are the rules and standards the same for the student taking a college class through high school as they would be at the college?
  • What are some of the benefits or disadvantages of a program like this?
  • Is the student really receiving a college-level education? What does the research say about students who have completed college after participating in these dual programs?
  • Is this method appropriate for every discipline? Are there some subjects that should not be taught in this way? Why or why not?

33. Eating Disorders

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by fear of obesity and resulting in severe weight loss. Bulimia nervosa is excessive food intake followed by self-induced vomiting or diarrhea.

  • Does the desire for a super-thin body contribute to the onset of an eating disorder?
  • Does the disorder indicate the presence of a deeper psychological problem?
  • What are the physical or neurological effects of anorexia or bulimia?
  • Are eating disorders more frequent among certain groups, such as fashion models, athletes, or gay men?
  • Do svelte figures on television and in magazine ads contribute to eating disorders?
  • What are other factors that contribute?

You may also want to consider prevention or treatment programs.

34. Education for Homeless Children

This serious problem can be broad or local. If you decide to write about schooling homeless children in your city, local resources will be your best sources of information. Try your local newspaper, local school district, and family shelters. Take a look at laws passed to ensure that all children get proper schooling. Nutrition, health, and other issues enter into this “educational” process.

  • How do the schools identify and help these students—particularly because they are so migratory?
  • McKinney Act (60 U.S.L.W. 2807, Lampkins v. D.C.)
  • What about dropout rates?

35. Election Reform

In 2000, George W. Bush, Jr. won the presidential election, even though he had lost the popular vote by 550,000 votes. This was because, in the United States, the president and vice-president are not elected by popular vote but by votes in the Electoral College: 270 votes were required to win, and Bush won 271. Throughout the United States, some counties were using punch card ballots that many voters found difficult to read, whereas other counties were voting by more technologically sophisticated methods. In Florida (where the vote was very close), many voters did not punch their cards accurately, so their ballots were disqualified. Some African Americans and members of other ethnic and racial groups reported being discouraged from voting or even being turned away at the polls. People were also discovering that many ballots, such as absentee votes, do not get counted until after election results are announced. These events caused many people to question the way the United States runs its elections. Consider the following argumentative research paper topics:

  • Why was the Electoral College created, and what impact has it had on previous presidential elections?
  • Is it time to establish a new system using popular votes rather than the electoral college?
  • Why do so many states and counties use punch card ballots?
  • What alternatives are there, and how can they be funded?
  • Is the solution a matter of money and technology?
  • Is Internet voting feasible and secure? What are the issues involved in online voting?

Copyright laws are intended to balance the rights of authors with the needs of the public for information and ideas. The ease of reproduction and access to the Internet have altered the needs for copyright protection.

  • Digital Millennium Copyright Act
  • Intellectual Property Rights
  • The Internet: It’s so easy to copy information, a picture, or a Web site and claim it as your own. What are the author’s rights?
  • Copying movies and CDs: If you own a copy, do you have the right to copy it? To share it?
  • Who owns ideas? Can you copyright them?

37. Emerging Infectious Disease and Epidemics

The problem with new strains of old diseases, such as tuberculosis, is that the old medicines are no longer effective. The diseases have become drug resistant, so you might use drug resistan? as part of your search. How can this problem be approached? What research is being done? You might select a specific disease to research, such as Ebola virus or the new strains of mycobacterium, tuberculosis, or Hantavirus. If you choose AIDS, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of information you find; be sure to limit your research to a certain aspect of the disease. Zoonotic diseases are those that can be transmitted between animals and people. Hantavirus comes from rodents; Ebola from monkeys. Many others are airborne, like tuberculosis. Some of these diseases are brought to the United States by travelers. Also, we no longer isolate the ill. Should we? Suggestions for argumentative research paper topics:

  • AIDS and Infectious Diseases (like TB)
  • Drug Resistance
  • Emerging Infectious Disease
  • Global Climate Change and Disease
  • Outbreaks or Plague
  • Tuberculosis, Ebola, Hantavirus, etc.
  • Zoonoses or Zoonotic Diseases

38. Energy Sources and Energy Use

Is oil the best source of energy for now? For the future? Should research funds be spent on finding more oil, finding better ways to use it, or developing other sources of energy altogether? You might want to compare the benefits and disadvantages of oil with those of other energy sources. Which is the most efficient? Most renewable? Least expensive? Consider cost, efficiency, and supply. Many states are trying or considering deregulating utility companies and allowing consumers to shop for the best rates. In California this has resulted in massive energy shortages. Is deregulation a good idea? Are safeguards needed to protect the consumer? To ensure a reasonable profit for the energy companies? Consider the following argumentative research paper topics:

  • Energy Policy Act
  • Hydropower
  • Renewable Energy
  • Natural Gas
  • Nuclear Power
  • Energy Shortages
  • Oil Dependance
  • Solar Energy
  • Traditional Energy Sources, such as Coal
  • Alternative Energy Sources, such as Wind Power and Geothermal Energy

39. English Only Movement

Most countries have an official language. You may be surprised to find that the United States does not. The question is, should we?

  • What are the pros and cons of having an official language?
  • Who wants English as our official language? Why?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of making English our official language?
  • Would minority groups be affected by an English-only law?
  • What is the history of English-only laws?
  • Consider the English Language Amendment and states with heavy immigrant populations. What would be the repercussions of passing the amendment?
  • How would statehood for Puerto Rico affect or be affected by English-only laws?
  • Some towns have enacted Spanish as an official language. Consider the impact on the English-only movement.
  • Consider the problems and costs of educating children in languages other than English.

40. Ethics of Organ Transplantation

With a shortage of organ donors, and a long list of patients awaiting transplants, fair allocation of organs for transplant is an interesting topic. There is talk of a national recipient list, rather than a local pool. Consider the following argumentative research paper topics:

  • How should the recipients be determined? First come, first served? Need? Proximity? How can this be decided?
  • What policies do different states have?
  • Should hospitals “presume consent” if no donor card is signed?
  • What are the ethics of this problem? Is it fair to give transplants to the rich and important first? To the sickest or the healthiest patients? Or to those for whom it is more likely to work? Who decides? You may want to use the Mickey Mantle case as an example.

41. Ethics of Politicians

The pervasiveness of political corruption has become disheartening. President Clinton was caught in the act of lying; congressional leaders have admitted to philandering; local politicians have been convicted of taking bribes. There are many ways to look at this problem:

  • Is unethical behavior in politicians a new phenomenon? Find historical examples, if any.
  • Are people in general less ethical now, or is the press more inclined to ferret out indiscretions?
  • Is corruption peculiar to politicians and others in power?
  • Does private infidelity or dishonesty mean a politician is less able? Are independent counsels on political witch hunts or unbiased fact-finding missions?
  • There is so much information available on this topic that you will be able to handle it better if you limit it by case or a single person or act.

42. Ethnic Cleansing

The Romans attempted it with the Christians; European explorers wiped out native tribes; Hitler tried it with the Holocaust. Ethnic cleansing is the systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, political, racial, or ethnic group. Should such actions be punished? Who should decide? Consider a modern example, such as Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, or Palestine. The afflicted group is often not able to defend itself. What is the responsibility of a more powerful nation when there is an apparent abuse of power? Or would the world be better off without certain groups? Suggestions for argumentative research paper topics:

  • Ethnic Cleansing in Rwanda
  • Ethnic Cleansing in Yugoslavia
  • Ethnic Relations
  • Genocide
  • Holocaust
  • Human Rights Violations

43. Food and Drug Administration Approvals

An argument used by those who are ill, particularly AIDS victims, is that medicine takes too long to be approved for human use. Many drugs are used in other parts of the world for years before being approved in the United States. Although this keeps inappropriate drugs off the market (consider the thalidomide babies), it also results in desperate people traveling to other countries for their treatment. Read a little on this topic before you begin selecting sources. Newspapers have very good articles for background information. You can contact the FDA, but there is so much available that it is probably unnecessary. You might try to find examples of people who have won the right to use medicines before FDA approval. Suggestions for narrowing your topic:

  • Drug Trials and Approvals
  • AIDS and FDA
  • FDA and Approval
  • FDA Regulations
  • Clinical Trials

44. Fitness and Children

According to recent newspaper articles, children are spending more time in front of the television, the obesity rate is increasing, and schools are cutting back on physical education.

  • How physically fit are America’s children, and how do they compare with children around the world?
  • What are the long-term effects of being unfit as a child? The short-term effects?
  • Is it detrimental for children to lift weights, run, and exert themselves the way adults do?
  • Team sports versus individual sports: Does one type of sport build more confidence than another?
  • Why study martial arts (judo, etc.) or ballet as a child?

45. Flexible Work Schedules

With the changing family, flexible schedules may make it possible, or at least easier, for some people to work. Flexible work schedules can include flextime (working four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days, for example); job sharing (two people working half time to fill one full-time position); or telecommuting (working from home and staying in touch electronically and via telephone).

  • Should companies provide flexible work schedules to already-established employees? Would it be a worthwhile benefit?
  • Does job sharing cost the company more money than hiring one person to do a job? What are the costs involved (benefits, training, etc.)?
  • Do employees on flexible scheduling give as much to the organization as regular employees? If not, do they give more or less?
  • Telecommuting is a type of flexible schedule. When is it a viable option?

46. Food Safety

Is our food safe to eat? There are many aspects to consider with this topic. You might look at just one area thoroughly or cover several of them as a broader topic.

  • Occasional outbreaks of food-related illness are reported in the news, such as Mad Cow Disease, food poisoning, or tainted strawberries.
  • New techniques such as irradiated food could have unknown consequences.
  • Herbal supplements do not currently have standardized quantities or purity standards.
  • Is it healthier to eat organic foods rather than take a chance on pesticide residue?
  • Do antibiotics in animal feeds affect human health?

47. Gambling

Are Americans changing their minds about the ethics or morals of gambling? We see a dramatic increase in the number of state lotteries and casinos. Ten years ago Las Vegas was for grown-ups. Today most visitors to Las Vegas are families, and children gamble for prizes at arcades. Consider some of the following argumentative research paper topics:

  • Who, exactly, is doing the gambling? Is it effectively a “tax” against the poor?
  • Now that gambling is easily accessible, are there more compulsive gamblers? Does gambling increase poverty?
  • How does gambling affect the individual gambler and his or her family?
  • Does it encourage organized crime?
  • Does the prevalence of gambling reflect lower moral standards?
  • Have state lotteries affected attitudes about gambling?
  • Are religious institutions involved in this issue? Do they promote (with Bingo nights, for example) or discourage gambling?

48. Gangs

Limit your search or you will find too much information. Following are some possible argumentative research paper topics:

  • Gangs: urban or rural phenomenon, or both?
  • Who joins gangs?
  • Gangs and rap singers
  • Government anti-gang programs
  • What kinds of violence do they commit?
  • Gangs in schools
  • Gang initiation ceremonies
  • Evolution of gangs
  • Peer pressure and gangs
  • Gang identification: colors, hand signs, graffiti

49. Gender Issues

Try to look for the facts. First, which gender differences are real? Which are influenced by societal expectations? You may find information on teacher bias in schools, where girls receive less attention than boys, and on society’s unfair expectations of boys, who supposedly are not allowed to show emotion. A recent study showed that when people are reminded of stereotypes before a test (girls cannot do math, white boys cannot jump) they tend to meet those stereotypes.

  • What are ways in which males or females are affected by gender differences (pay, learning, stress, violence)?
  • Do we perceive the roles of men and women in the same way we did a generation ago?
  • Can we take advantage of gender differences to improve society?

There have been many studies on this topic.

50. Glass Ceiling

As employees climb the corporate ladder, is there an invisible glass ceiling beyond which certain employees, namely women and minorities, cannot advance.

  • When women are promoted, do they receive the same benefits and salary for equal work?
  • Is inequity a result of bias, or are women responsible for building a glass ceiling by choosing more nurturing jobs rather than those that pay better?
  • Is there really a glass ceiling?
  • If you believe there is a glass ceiling, what are the possible solutions?

51. Green Company Policies

Some companies are making heroic efforts to promote corporate environmental responsibility. In other companies, there is a “green wall” erected between the environmentalists and the rest of the company. Consider specific, higher risk industries, such as chemical production or logging.

  • Is environmentalism cost-effective?
  • Should cost-effectiveness be a deciding factor in choosing environmental approaches?
  • Is it worth losing hundreds of jobs to save one species from extinction?
  • Are we damaging the environment beyond repair?

Consider short-term and long-term effects. You might want to find specific cases.

52. Greenhouse Effect

Modern technology is blamed for causing damage to the ozone layer miles above the Earth. Developed nations have agreed to stop producing many offending products but have not convinced developing nations to do the same. Start with the causes of the greenhouse effect.

  • How did it come about?
  • What can be done to correct it?
  • How does it affect us?
  • How can individuals help?

Consider researching a single aspect of this enormous problem; for example:

  • The greenhouse effect is the cause of the warming weather conditions.
  • The greenhouse effect will cause universal flooding as the polar ice caps melt.

53. Gun Control

Most people have very strong views on gun control, both for and against, and are not willing to consider the opposite point of view. To write a persuasive paper, be sure you research both sides of the issue. For every topic, you can argue better if you know what the other side believes. Following are common arguments about gun control, they can serve as argumentative research paper topics related to gun control:

  • Weapons don’t kill; people kill. The only purpose of a handgun is to shoot someone.
  • If guns weren’t legal, criminals would still find a way to get them. Up to 70 percent of guns used by felons are stolen from private homes.
  • Our constitutional right to bear arms is protected by the Second Amendment. The medical cost of gun violence is $4.5 billion per year.

Proposed compromises include waiting periods before purchasing and “smart” guns. You may want to address these.

54. Hazardous Waste

Refine your topic to a single small issue within a type of hazardous waste; for example, disease and medical waste or White Sands, NM and nuclear radiation. Other possible issues are:

  • Nuclear waste: Is the energy produced worth the waste product it creates?
  • Medical or chemical waste
  • Contaminated waste sites: Who is responsible for the waste: the government, the current owner of the site, or the owner that produced the contamination?
  • Household garbage
  • Superfund
  • Contaminated water
  • Effect of hazardous waste on wildlife
  • Effect of hazardous waste on human health

55. Health Care Reform

Many other countries have universal health insurance. Should everyone in the United States be insured? Are there tradeoffs, such as higher taxes, a limited selection of doctors available, or poorer quality of medical care? Consider the health care reform plans.

  • What would be best, HMOs, PPOs, or an extension of Medicare? Compare them.
  • Are HMOs infringing on individuals’ rights, second guessing doctors, or making decisions based solely on cost?
  • Would universal health care stifle medical research because it costs too much?

56. Homelessness

Consider causes, such as lack of affordable housing, drug or alcohol addiction, mental illness, disabilities, lack of employment opportunities, and health issues. You may think of the following argumentative research paper topics:

  • What could be done to minimize these problems?
  • Can homelessness be prevented?
  • Should panhandling be allowed?
  • What is the responsibility of citizens to remedy this problem? What is the responsibility of the government? The private social services agencies?
  • Are Americans losing sympathy for the homeless?
  • How can citizens help with this problem?

57. Honor System in Colleges

Faculty members are requiring students to submit copies of their information sources to prove that they themselves did the work. It is easier than ever to copy someone else’s test by downloading it onto a disk.

  • Has the diminishing moral fiber of the United States made the honor systems?
  • Is the U.S. public desensitized to the subject of cheating?
  • Does an honor system increase or decrease the chance of cheating?

Many colleges post their honor codes online. You will find some by searching for the college name and honor or integrity.

58. Human Rights and Prisoners

First, you will have to focus your topic on prisoners in the United States or those in other countries. This list concentrates on prisoners in the United States:

  • Are prisons too comfortable? Or too dangerous? In your search, much of what you will find will concern prisoners in other countries.
  • For certain types of inmates, prisons may be especially dangerous. The young, or those who look young, and the gay may find themselves prey to sexual molesters. People imprisoned for certain types of crimes may be subjected to retaliation in prison. A racial minority may be persecuted. Should these people receive “separate but equal” treatment?
  • Should prisoners retain their constitutional rights? Try to identify constitutional rights and compare them with privileges.
  • Human rights for prisoners may include religious rights (such as kosher food).
  • Are some types of treatment, such as isolation, overcrowding, lack of privacy, or minimal health care, part of the punishment or an abuse of human rights?

59. Hunger

Although world hunger is often a hot issue, the local hunger problem is often ignored. You may want to limit your search to hunger in your area. If you do so, local resources (telephone interviews, local newspapers, and government agencies) may be your best resources. Your library will have plenty of information on this topic. Consider the various aspects of the problem as argumentative research paper topics:

  • Are welfare programs and food stamps helping to alleviate hunger or enabling it by keeping people dependent?
  • Are school lunch programs working?
  • Many communities have local food pantries. Do they reach those in need?
  • Is hunger temporary or a chronic problem for those who come for assistance?
  • What are the repercussions of undernourishment for productivity, educational achievement, and crime?
  • Can you think of a plan that would help alleviate this problem?

60. Immigration Reform

This broad topic covers both illegal and legal immigration, because many of the resources are the same. However, you should decide which interests you:

  • What is the government doing to curtail the illegal entry of aliens into the United States?
  • Should everyone be allowed to come to the United States? Will they take jobs that are currently unfilled or make it harder for U.S. citizens to find work?
  • Is H1B, intended to bring in workers in needed fields, being abused by companies looking for those willing to accept lower pay?
  • Are you interested in the plight of illegal immigrants in the United States?
  • Should they be allowed to work?
  • Should they be eligible for social services such as health care and food stamps?
  • Are company owners using them so they can pay lower wages?
  • Are they being abused, working long hours, and being kept in substandard accommodations because they have no recourse?
  • Even if that is true, are they better off than they would be in their native countries?
  • Should their children be educated in our school systems?
  • What about child labor?

61. Income Gap

“Income gap” is a hot topic, but what “gap” are we talking about? Once you have decided on the group you want to research, the keywords will be for that group. This is a topic that can be argued from either side. One group deserves to earn the same pay as the other because . . . or it does not, because . . . Following are some “gaps” from which to select your argumentative research paper topic:

  • Any ethnic group versus whites
  • Executives versus workers
  • Women versus men
  • Educated versus skilled workers
  • Rich versus poor

Statistics will be important to establish your premise. If you can find case examples, they would be even better.

62. Media Bias

Many feel that media influence has become unhealthy; that the media have begun to select the issues Americans consider important rather than the other way around. The competition for speed of news delivery on the Internet and television has increased the pressure to sell information. Keep in mind that you are looking for information in the very same sources you are examining. This may be a good topic for interviews. Consider the following argumentative research paper topics:

  • What impact has the Internet or television had on public thinking?
  • How has the speed of communication affected what people think?
  • What about the pressure on the news reporters or anchors? Does it affect ethical behavior?
  • How are corporations using advertising to sell a corporate image?
  • Does the nightly news influence people to have a particular viewpoint?
  • Does the nightly news influence politics?
  • In what ways might an advertiser influence the media?

63. Medical Marijuana

When California, Colorado, and Arizona offered voters a chance to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, it created a nightmare for drug enforcement officials. Most materials on this topic have been published since 1997.

  • What are the legal implications of medicinal marijuana use?
  • What are the medical alternatives?
  • Is marijuana an effective remedy against pain? If so, is it fair to withhold it from patients?
  • What are the side effects of long-term marijuana use?
  • What are the legal ramifications; for example, state law versus federal law?
  • Will prescription marijuana undermine drug enforcement? How can it be controlled?

64. Mergers and Megacompanies

  • What has occurred to make mergers so widespread? Is this good? Bad? What are some of the repercussions?
  • What are the true benefits of merging and creating megacompanies? Is this trend safe for the economy?
  • Downsizing is a big part of merging. Is this contributing to unemployment?
  • Who is affected by downsizing? (Downsizing may be treated as a separate topic.)
  • Does this trend affect feelings of company loyalty and the work ethic?


The North American Free Trade Agreement allows easier trade among member nations. Without tariffs, are U.S. companies moving their production to Mexico, where they can pay lower wages and lower their environmental costs? At this time, only the United States, Canada, and Mexico are part of NAFTA. You might consider finding statistics about success or failure and choose a side using historical data to support your position.

  • Does the agreement affect survival of companies or employment in the United States?
  • In what ways does this agreement affect the environment?
  • Is it easier to smuggle drugs across the border? What other problems might occur?
  • Is there a way to create fair taxing for U.S. highway use without discouraging foreign trade?
  • Now that the agreement has been enforced for several years, has the economy benefited in expected ways?
  • Should NAFTA be expanded to include all of the Americas?

66. Non-traditional Families

Non-traditional families as a topic can cover anything from changing values to types of new families, including extended, blended, alternative, single-parent, gay, or adoptive. If you like the idea but do not know how to proceed, we suggest you read a little from the first two or three books in the “Background and Statistics” list for ideas on refining this to a manageable topic. Select an issue such as “Fathers as head of single-parent families.” We even found a lot of information on “grandparents raising grandchildren.” Be sure to narrow the topic, or you will be frustrated by too much information that does not fit together. Some suggested argumentative research paper topics are:

  • Alternative Families
  • Blended/Extended Families
  • Family and Society and Changes
  • Family Values
  • Morality and Family
  • Religion and Family

67. Ozone Layer

Modern technology is blamed for damage to the ozone layer miles above the Earth. Developed nations have agreed in the Montreal Protocol to stop producing some offending products, but they have not convinced developing nations to do the same. There is a great deal of controversy among scientists about the level of harm that has been done. If you select this topic, do your homework. Get good background information—the newer the information, the better.

  • What has caused the environmental problems we have today? Is there proof?
  • What can be done to repair the damage?
  • Does it directly affect us now? What about future generations?
  • What is the government’s role in this issue?
  • What laws have been passed by Congress to clean up the air and the environment?

Consider researching a single aspect of this enormous problem; for example, whether the greenhouse effect is the cause of the warming weather conditions.

68. Police Brutality

Believe it or not, there have always been rumors charging police misconduct. This is a topic you may want to argue either side of and for which there will be plenty of information, especially in newspapers. It is a high-profile topic, so if you choose it, try to keep your line of reasoning professional and use valid sources to reinforce your argument. Following are a few argumentative research paper topics to get you focused:

  • What constitutes excessive force?
  • What role do race or other prejudices play in police violence? Research the Rodney King case and other more recent court cases.
  • What are possible solutions for preventing police misconduct?
  • Is punishment for police who have been convicted always fair and consistent?
  • Would the use of civilian review boards be more effective?
  • What about police rights?
  • Is violence an integral part of police work? Could it be a reaction to the work environment, or an attribute of the people attracted to the profession?
  • Is general ethical behavior a part of this problem?

69. Political Correctness

We think of the phrase “political correctness” as an invention of the 1990s. Actually, the term “politically correct” was first mentioned in a Supreme Court case in 1793. In the 1930s, the phrase was used by the Stalinists in the Soviet Union. The negative connotations of this term are fairly recent. For a more positive point of view, use the word “multiculturalism.” On this topic, you could simply be talking about using gender words correctly; for example, chairperson instead of chairman.

  • How important is political correctness in today’s society?
  • Have we taken concerns about gender bias too far? Not far enough?
  • Are we taking our correctness to ridiculous extremes?

You might have fun with this topic. There are a few standup comedians who love this topic.

70. Rape

This topic is extremely broad and as old as time. Date rape and male rape are newer facets of this topic. Pick a single argument that interests you and refine it. Consider the psychological damage to rape victims. See if you can find information about what causes men (or women) to commit rape.

  • Acquaintance or Date Rape
  • Spousal Rape; Statutory Rape; Male Rape; Incest
  • Victim’s psychological trauma
  • Should rape victims file charges? Is it worth the mental anguish?
  • Do the courts mete out appropriate punishment for this crime?

71. Recycling

The younger generation has been very interested in finding ways to protect their environment. One thing we can all do is to recycle. This becomes a problem in areas where there is no pickup or ready source for receiving recycled articles. Think about the following argumentative research paper topics:

  • Is there a market for recycled materials?
  • Is it cost-effective? Is recycling so important that cost-effectiveness should not be an issue?
  • What is the cost to the city or county for recycling pickup and delivery? Is it economical? If not, should recycling be a moral issue?
  • Is recycling by city waste companies done in primarily upper class neighborhoods? Is this arguable?

Consider the market for these products: plastic, aluminum, paper, and medical waste.

72. Road Rage

In Riding the Iron Rooster, Paul Theroux states that the reason Texans are such courteous drivers is because each thinks the other has a gun in the front seat. That may not be 100 percent true, but it is true that drivers are not always courteous on busy freeways. Perfectly nice people turn into power-obsessed demons when they get behind the wheel of a vehicle. And each year the problem increases. The phenomenon called “road rage” is escalating in major cities around the country. Aggressive driving was involved in two-thirds of auto deaths in 1996.

  • What are the causes of road rage? What can be done to prevent it?
  • What solutions are being attempted to solve this serious problem?
  • Is road rage happening primarily in overpopulated cities? If so, what are the causes? The effects? The possible solutions?

73. Same-Sex Marriage

This topic comes and goes, but is part of our changing social views. As gay and lesbian groups become stronger, it will be interesting to see what happens with this topic.

  • Should gays and lesbians have the legal right to marry their same-sex partners?
  • Is this a moral, religious, or government issue? Legislated morality is a phrase used with this topic.
  • Because they cannot marry, homosexuals do not have access to certain government and other services. Should homosexuals be entitled to spousal benefits? Insurance? Tax benefits?

74. School Choice and School Vouchers

In school voucher programs, state and local government give parents monetary vouchers that they can use at any public or private school, allowing for choice in each student’s education.

  • Are vouchers a plausible way to ensure that U.S. children receive the same quality of education?
  • What are charter schools? Will charter schools work?
  • What are the benefits or detriments of offering vouchers to U.S. families?
  • How can these school choices work and be fair to rich and poor alike?
  • What affect would voucher programs have on the inner city student?

75. School Prayer

Most people have strong feelings about this controversial issue. If you choose it, be very professional in your presentation of facts. You might make your paper more interesting if you find useful information on the history of attitudes toward school prayer. We love to compare changes in public attitudes during a given period. Another very good comparison here would be belief about this issue in small towns versus large urban areas. Some of the argumentative research paper topics to consider are:

  • Should school prayer be allowed, and if so, in what form (silent meditation, actual prayers said aloud)?
  • Should graduation ceremonies, sports events, and other public school gatherings have invocations?
  • What responsibility do we have to people of differing faiths in a multicultural society?
  • How can we incorporate prayer and observe other religions?
  • Should state or national government be allowed to legislate this issue?

76. School Violence

Sometimes we think public schools are becoming war zones. From urban schools to suburban, none of our schools seems safe for children. Gangs and other groups seem to proliferate. Each year the violence seems to originate from younger students.

  • Is this a new phenomenon, or has it just been more widely publicized recently?
  • What causes a student to become violent?
  • What are reasons for the change?
  • What can be done about it?
  • Can schools teach nonviolence successfully?
  • Should schools provide better preventive counseling?

Consider focusing on the responsibilities of parents and school officials. Discuss a balance of safety with personal freedoms, like freedom of the press or the right to bear arms. Use some of the recent incidents in your research paper. Try to find psychological effects and causes.

77. Sex and Violence on TV

  • What has research indicated are the effects of television violence and sex on children? On adults?
  • Do the violence and sex shown on television reflect a decaying of American morals?
  • Should television have a more rigorous rating system? How successful are the blocking technologies, such as the V-chip?
  • Should television share the responsibility for violence and crime in our society?
  • What are parental responsibilities in supervising what children see on television?
  • What responsibility should the media have in selecting what they show on television?

Think about First Amendment rights.

78. Sex Education

The argument about whether parents or the schools should teach sex education is an old one. Find early legislation and articles in the library. Can you find a trend of changing public attitudes on this topic? Are schools and parents more or less conservative today? How does the school decide what is appropriate for the sex education curriculum? Following are a few of the age-old argumentative research paper topics:

  • Does sex education increase sexual activity?
  • Does sex education actually decrease teenage pregnancy?
  • Does sex education affect the use of safe sex methods by the young?
  • At what age or grade should sex education begin?
  • Whose responsibility is it to teach children about sex and other life issues?

79. Sex Offender Registries

This topic discusses whether a community should be notified when a convicted rapist, child molester, or other type of sex offender moves into the area. Statistics can be very helpful in defending your argument.

  • Is notification an infringement of the offender’s civil rights?
  • What are the arguments for and against notification? Are there statistics available that would support pro or con arguments on this topic?
  • What has prompted some communities to press for notification?

80. Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is another topic about which there is almost too much information. Try to focus on a certain aspect of this topic and perhaps find legislation and specific examples. You may be wise to locate a case to research and comment on. Look at the law. It has changed, and there are specific guidelines on exactly what constitutes sexual harassment. You may want to include the guidelines in your paper. Keep in mind that this is a separate issue from violence against women. Sexual harassment does not have to be men harassing women. It may be more interesting to find some of the unusual cases. Some suggested argumentative research paper topics related to sexual harassment:

  • Sexual Harassment and Employment
  • Women and Workplace
  • Employment Discrimination and Legislation
  • Workplace Violence

81. Single Sex Education

  • A recent study claims that boys are called on to answer questions more often and, in general, are given preferential treatment in the classroom. Why?
  • What proof can you find of this favoritism?
  • Other studies show that both girls and boys appear to learn more efficiently, have higher test scores, and gain more confidence without the opposite sex in the classroom. Why?
  • If this is true, should Americans support public and private single-sex schools?

82. Social Security

It seems as though Congress is always studying Social Security. Baby boomers and Generation-Xers are beginning to worry about their retirement future and the Social Security system. Narrow wisely; this is a broad and timely topic. The following are argumentative research paper topics you may find interesting:

  • Privatization of Social Security
  • Government money management versus investing funds in the stock market or other investment means
  • Should Social Security be paid according to need? Contribution?
  • Survivors’ benefits for children
  • Social Security numbers as identification and privacy
  • What plan is Congress considering to restructure Social Security?

83. Sports and Health Benefits

This is a great topic and offers many refinements. Consider whether the money spent to offer physical education to school children meets its goal of instilling lifelong good health habits.

  • Do athletics teach qualities or habits that people need for living?
  • Are there long-term benefits for those who run, walk, swim, and so forth?
  • What are the psychological, social, or physical benefits of sports? Sportsmanship? Teamwork? Mental or physical well-being?
  • What about the benefit of sports for girls?
  • Certainly consider the lifetime benefits of exercise for your health.

84. Sports Arenas

  • Who should pay the substantial costs of building new sports arenas?
  • Is it fair to use tax dollars to build sports arenas when so few citizens actually attend or can afford to attend games?
  • Can sports arenas revitalize downtown areas?
  • What are methods cities could incorporate to help offset substantial building and maintenance costs?
  • Should sports teams own or lease sports arenas? Should players?

You can also select a city that has built or is building a stadium and do some research on it (e.g., Houston, Nashville, Denver).

85. Standardized Testing

There has been much controversy about the validity and fairness of standardized tests. Colleges universally look at test grades, such as SAT and ACT, as part of entrance requirements. If you are in high school, you may want to look at tests given in your area. Texas has the TAAS test that must be passed for high school graduation and New York has the Regents exam. Following are a few argumentative research paper topics to consider:

  • Are standardized tests fair to people of different races or cultures? Are they biased against minorities or minority groups?
  • Several tests to consider are the TASP, SAT, and ACT. In Texas, students must take the TASP test to enter college. Most colleges nationwide insist that students make a certain score on a standardized test as part of entrance to the college. Does this (or any other) test give an accurate picture of student capabilities?
  • Choose a special group of people, for example, teachers, nurses, special education students, college entrance students, or high school graduates. Should tests be given to certify these groups?

86. State Lotteries

Statistics show that gambling has gained wider national acceptance. Families go to Las Vegas for vacations—a place where children were invisible 15 years ago. Now state lotteries are more and more popular as a way for the state to raise money. If you consider this topic, you might look at it from a “moral or ethical” stance or from a “where does the money go?” viewpoint. Following are some argumentative research paper topics:

  • Do the benefits of lotteries outweigh their harmful effects (if any) on society? Name proven effects.
  • Have lotteries been responsible for changing our attitudes about the morality of gambling?
  • Are profits actually spent on earmarked programs, such as education?
  • If so, does the state still give education its usual allocation so that it gains from the use of lottery money?
  • What groups fight to end the lottery, and how and why do they do so?
  • Does the lottery actually bring promised money to the state?

87. Suicide in Elderly

This is another interesting hot topic about which there is almost too much information. We know that both suicide and alcoholism are prevalent in the elderly. You will need to refine your argumentative research paper topic; for example:

  • Suicide among the elderly who live alone, or
  • Alcoholism and suicide among the elderly.

Select several keywords that help refine your subject. You might contact a nursing home or suicide hotline (main number only) and ask preselected questions. Consider many factors, including the following:

  • What are the primary causes of suicide in the elderly? Find research and statistics.
  • What kinds of intervention are successful in preventing repeated suicide attempts? Can treatment be successful in preventing suicidal behavior?
  • What part does mental illness play in suicides? Loneliness? Depression?
  • What success have national and local hotlines had in preventing suicides?

88. Superstores

In the 1990s, we began to see more and more “superstores,” or one-stop-shopping centers, for computers, food, clothing, hardware, books, automobiles, and now caskets. How have these superstores affected the marketplace and the way we shop? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • In what ways have these stores affected small towns?
  • How have they affected “mom and pop” store owners?
  • Can small businesses compete with the buying power of these superstores?
  • Is indiscriminate expansion of superstores a national trend?
  • What will be the future of these stores?
  • Could there be a trend away from these huge stores?

89. Tax Reform

Consider some of the following subtopics as ways of limiting this huge topic:

  • What are suggested methods of tax reform? Pick a method that interests you and locate both pro and con information about it.
  • Will a flat-rate income tax work? Who will be helped most by it? Would it be fair to all?
  • In a flat-rate tax system, would lack of tax breaks affect the incentive to risk owning a business?
  • Should we establish a national retail sales tax to replace the current income tax system?

Consider comparing the different political parties and their views on tax reform.

90. Term Limits

Term limits have been considered since the days of the Articles of Confederation. Term limits place statutory limitations on the number of terms officeholders may serve. This has especially been discussed as a possibility for members of Congress. The issue of term limits became important in the United States during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Following are a few questions that might help you refine this topic:

  • Would term limits eliminate the influence of lobbyists and special interest groups?
  • Would they allow politicians to vote their conscience instead of worrying about the results of the next election?
  • Or would term limits give politicians carte blanche to abuse their power, believing they will not be held accountable?
  • Are we likely to get term limits when the people who would have to abide by them are the very ones who would write the legislation promoting them?

You might find good local or state examples of term limits. Whatever you do, be sure to find the viewpoints of both the proponents and the opponents.

91. Tobacco Regulations

There is so much information on this topic that refining or narrowing will be crucial. Look for some of the original legislation. You will find some of the original research by tobacco companies online. Suggested argumentative research paper topics include:

  • Government rights and responsibilities in prohibiting harmful behavior.
  • Advertising—Is it aimed at teens?
  • Smokeless tobacco—Better or worse?
  • Liability of tobacco companies. Be sure to find the legislation.
  • Smokers’ rights versus non-smokers’ rights.
  • Second-hand smoke. Find the legislation.
  • Do not forget to consider the health and insurance company issues.

92. Tort Reform

If you are injured or suffer a loss as a result of another person’s negligence, you are entitled to speedy, adequate compensation. If you do not receive that compensation, you have the right to present your case through a court of law by filing a “tort” lawsuit. But has this right gotten out of hand? Slip on a wet floor at the mall and consider a lawsuit against the mall owner. Get cancer from smoking cigarettes and sue the tobacco companies. That is what many Americans do. It is our right. But is it right?

  • Is our society becoming too litigious? If so, what are the causes
  • What are possible alternatives?
  • Do lawsuits cost taxpayers and customers more money?
  • How do they affect the costs of goods and services?
  • What can or should be done to correct the current situation?
  • Should the law provide a set limit on particular torts to control punitive damages?
  • Would a legislative bill to limit damages be unfair to victims? Why? Why not?

93. Web TV

Web TV gets you connected. Send e-mail to friends and family, surf the Internet, and interact with new forms of entertainment—all from your TV. Interactivity allows participants to play along with game shows, participate in polls, and chat with other viewers during programs. Suggested argumentative research paper topics include the following:

  • Is Web TV the way we will all access the Web and each other?
  • Will easier access affect attempts to control the content?
  • Will companies be willing to build to accommodate this medium?
  • How will Web TV change family viewing?

94. Welfare Reform

You will definitely need to refine this large topic. You may just want to report on one of the issues, such as child welfare or the food stamp program.

  • How will the Welfare Overhaul Law reduce welfare dependency?
  • What is the correlation between welfare and teenage pregnancy? How will the new law address this and other welfare problems?
  • Will new laws help or hurt needy children? Legal immigrants? Illegal immigrants?
  • If welfare is a generational or an ethnic problem, how does the new law address this problem?
  • How can a new law force or encourage or assist welfare recipients to change their lifestyle?

95. Women Athletics

Women’s sports are very popular, from ice-skating to basketball. However, women do not make as much money playing these sports as men do. This is an emotional topic for some. Think about it from the standpoint of college scholarships or professional sports. From your research, create a salary comparison chart – that will be an eye-opener. Following are a few argumentative research paper topics for idea refinement:

  • Should women’s athletic programs receive as much money as men’s programs? What is being done to make funding more equitable?
  • Should women train the way men do? Why or why not?
  • Has participating in team sports traditionally given men a career edge over women?
  • Will women’s basketball help establish women’s sports on television and other media?

96. Work Ethics

Work ethic may be defined as one’s sense of responsibility and loyalty to a job, identifying the amount of work needed and the accountability of an employee to fill that need. Do Americans still feel a responsibility to give a day’s work for a day’s pay? Perhaps the creation of huge companies and the lack of a feeling of company loyalty or job security is an emotional factor. Perhaps the fact that people do not expect to stay in one job for a long time contributes to the way they feel about their work. Choose a position on this issue, but be sure to find information on both sides so your argument will have substance.

  • What is a “work ethic?” Are work ethics changing? Why or why not?
  • How does the concept of a work ethic affect society as a whole?
  • Can workplace ethics be taught?
  • Does company loyalty (or lack of it) contribute to a poor work ethic?
  • Should companies be responsible for improving employee/company loyalty?

97. World Population and Hunger

This is a topic so broad that it can be broken down in many different ways, concerning the effect of population growth on the environment, hunger, religion, or women (birth control). Hunger is a by-product of the problems caused by world population and should be worked into your report, if it interests you. We suggest you pick a small issue for a four-to-five-page paper because there is a great deal of information. Possible interesting broad argumentative research paper topics include the following:

  • Does population growth continue to widen the gap between the “haves” and “have nots?”
  • Should governments limit families in countries where overpopulation is a factor?
  • Is religion a major factor in population growth? What role do religious beliefs play?
  • Does it infringe on human rights when a society limits family size?

You may find information about food distribution—getting food from the place where it was grown to where it is needed. That is a great economics topic. Many Third World countries have population limitations; you may find that to be an interesting argumentative research paper topic.

98. World Trade and Globalization

Since nations first began trading with one another, governments have tried to control the flow of goods into their lands, usually through tariffs or through quotas limiting the amount of imports. Tariffs are taxes imposed on imported goods to protect industries within a country from competitors, Today, most of the world’s industrialized nations support free trade and the elimination of trade barriers, claiming that such protectionist measures amount to economic discrimination. Suggested argumentative research paper topics are:

  • European Union
  • Fair Trade
  • GATT
  • Global Economy
  • Multinational Corporations
  • Trade Barriers

99. Year-Round Schools

Many school systems have tried year-round school and found that it creates many problems for families. What are some of these problems? How have these problems been solved? School districts around the country have tried it. Are they continuing with this schedule? You may look for a district where this program has been tried and then talk with school officials about its success or lack of success. There will be more information for more recent years.

  • Does a year-round school schedule cost the school district more money, or does it save money? Is it a more effective use of costly schools? Does it save the cost of erecting additional buildings?
  • What is the effect of year-round schooling on student learning and retention? In what ways does alternative scheduling affect transient students?
  • How does year-round school scheduling affect family vacations? Scheduling for families with several children? Working parents?

100. Youth Crime

This is a hot topic that was barely an issue 10 years ago. Now, boot camps and teen crime have become the norm, particularly in large cities and suburbs. What is causing this trend? Consider the following argumentative research paper topics:

  • Is youth crime on the rise? Are children committing serious crimes at younger ages? Why?
  • What social and economic factors may be contributing to this problem?
  • Can implementing curfews, treating juvenile offenders as adults, and zero tolerance policies be effective methods for reducing youth crime? Are there other alternatives?
  • Should parents be held criminally responsible for the crimes of their children?
  • Are prison boot camps effective in rehabilitating youth?

How to Choose an Argumentative Topic for a Research Paper

It is best to avoid moral topics since they do not always support logical discussion.  Additionally, any potential argumentative research paper topic should be current, debatable, researchable, and manageable.

A current topic is one that has not been over-debated and is still being decided by society.  However, pay attention to the fact that most writers and readers are sick of topics that have been debated for years: abortion, the death penalty, the legalization of marijuana, etc.

A debatable topic is one that has differing viewpoints.  In other words, it is a controversial issue.  Writing about how child abuse has consequences for society is not debatable since no one would disagree with this thesis.  On the other hand, debating whether the common punishments for child abusers are effective or not in deterring crime is debatable and can make for an interesting and well supported research paper.

A researchable topic is one in which the you can find a variety of credible and current sources.  In other words, you need to be able to find a multitude of research performed by qualified individuals to support the overall argument.

A manageable topic is one that can be successfully performed within the page requirements of the research paper.  Writing about widespread issues such as national or global problems is often unmanageable in several pages.  To avoid this, you should begin with a basic subject and then try to narrow the subject down to a more appropriate level.

See other Research Paper Topics and browse our collection of Argumentative Research Papers.


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