Finding a good argumentative research paper topic is challenging. In fact, this might be the hardest task before the writing begins. To make it easier for you to find the right topic for your research paper, we’ve collected and organized 105 excellent research paper topics.
Of course, there are many resources that can help you choose a great research paper topic, but there are also some that aren’t really fit for the job. One of the problems you might run into while searching for the perfect topic for a research paper is not only finding an interesting topic but realizing too late that it’s more suitable for an essay rather than a research paper. If you’re not entirely certain what is the difference between a research paper and an essay and what makes a good research paper topic, here’s a brief overview of both.
The essay – this is an excellent and exciting format where the writer has a considerable amount of freedom regarding the writing style they use and how they present their point of view. Of course, essays can be of different types: argumentative, narrative, academic, and so on. Regardless of the type, however, creativity and original thinking are typically expected and rewarded.
The research paper, on the other hand, is a more formal writing format, whereby the author needs to adhere to specific style and structure guidelines. The research paper is primarily concerned with critical analysis of other available research. The author is expected to review existing literature, compile relevant information for discussion and draw a conclusion based on the facts presented. Their point of view is usually incorporated into the analysis, but it is not at the forefront of the text.
There a few more striking differences between the two formats:
An essay is expected to be about 5 paragraphs long (or short), whereas the research paper is a more comprehensive piece of writing that spans at least 8 pages.
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Here’s where the research paper takes the spotlight. To write a good research paper, the author needs to build a really comprehensive understanding of the topic. This involves intensive research (it’s called a research paper, remember) and understanding of all relevant points of view on the topic. The essay, in contrast, can primarily focus on the author’s point of view, with others’ works being referenced briefly and usually as an example and to support the author’s main argument.
Traditionally, the essay is the go-to format if the goal is for the author to develop their writing skills. The lack of overly formal structure of the essay makes it a lot easier to hone the writing skills, especially presenting your opinion in a clear, logical, and persuasive manner. The research paper is a more mature piece of work designed to deepen the author’s expertise about a topic.
That said, what would make a good research paper topic (and not an essay topic)? Continue reading to find out or, if you’re in a hurry, just browse our list of excellent argumentative research paper topics below.
In this article:
- How to Choose a Research Paper Topic
- Argumentative Research Paper Topics for College
- Argumentative Research Paper Topics for High School
- Controversial Argumentative Research Paper Topics
- Easy Argumentative Research Paper Topics
- Challenging Research Paper Topics
- Interesting Research Paper Topics
- Environmental Research Paper Topics
- Political Research Paper Topics
- Compelling Argumentative Research Paper Topics
- What’s next?
How to Choose a Research Paper Topic
To choose the perfect research paper topic, you need to know what specific kind of research paper you’re writing.
The argumentative research writeup has a very obvious quality: the author is expected to hold a certain position and to find the facts and research to support it. Of course, the paper is still analytical in the sense that you need to analyze all of the available literature and naturally reach the conclusion laid out in the thesis.
A typical argumentative research paper topic consists of a question. More specifically, the question is such that answering it requires the author to declare their position.
For example, reading literature that supports the statement that small classes are better classes is a great starting place and direction for an argumentative paper on the topic. In contrast, gathering observations about the role of the teacher in the classroom is a great way to prepare for an analytical research paper, but it’s not suitable for an argumentative one.
So, how to choose a good topic for your argumentative research paper? Consider the following.
What are you interested in?
Your final research paper topic needs to cover a subject you’re interested in. Since you’ll spend long hours researching and thinking about your topic, you might as well make it enjoyable. If your peers share your interest, even better! There’s nothing more helpful in the early stages of writing a research paper than a spirited discussion with a classmate. For example, social issues, or politics, or psychology, or business. Once you know your general interest, narrowing it down should come naturally.
Just as it’s helpful for starting your initial paper outline, brainstorming is exceptionally helpful when trying to come up with research paper ideas. Jot down as many topics that come to mind in the span of 2-5 minutes, then review your list and try to see if any pattern is emerging.
Once you have a general idea of what your topic will be, it’s sensible to do a quick online check and see whether there is enough existing literature on the subject before you fully commit. Starting work on a research paper topic that’s not popular in its own field might be very rewarding but also very challenging.
Existing knowledge check
Before choosing your research topic consider your personal level of expertise on the subject. You need to feel comfortable with the material if you’re to do a good analysis of the body of work done on it.
If you’re still unable to narrow down a good research topic for an argumentative paper, don’t worry! Here’s our list of 105 argumentative research paper topic ideas.
Argumentative Research Paper Topics for College
College is the place where you’ll most likely have to write an argumentative research paper, which is why we’ve put together a list of 15 college-level topic ideas. Our shortlisted topics are selected to reflect both current issues and discussions that are always relevant. Bear in mind that most of these are considered medium difficulty and may take longer to complete. So, if you’re writing a paper that you have a whole term to prepare for, tackle one of these more challenging topics. If not, there’s plenty of easier ones to choose from down the list. And if that’s not enough, you can look for inspiration in one of our other great topic lists for college essays.
1. What are the implications of using artificial intelligence in warfare?
2. Is there merit to a meritocratic system?
3. What are the benefits and negatives of abolishing prisons?
4. What are the consequences and ethics of using productivity drugs (e.g., Adderall)?
5. Is AI in healthcare a good way to improve diagnostics?
6. Is revolution necessarily synonymous with violence?
7. Is the #metoo movement creating meaningful change?
8. What is the role of gender stereotyping in education, and can it be addressed?
9. Has the Covid-19 pandemic taught us how to prevent the next pandemic?
10. Can children develop empathy in a digital age?
11. Are quotas an effective method to bridge work- or other place inequalities?
12. Is obesity preventable?
13. Is white collar crime more prevalent in some states than others? What factors enable it?
14. What is the effect of using smartphones and tablets in early child development?
15. Do Ivy League graduates perform better at the workplace than graduates from lower-ranking universities?
Argumentative Research Paper Topics for High School
High school is the perfect time to start developing academic thinking, and argument research papers are a fantastic way to do so. There are also various scholarship opportunities that target young researcher-oriented scholars, which is an extra incentive to start writing early. Hopefully, our diverse list of research paper ideas will help you get inspired. With topics on politics, digital issues, family relationships, and more, we feel confident you’ll find the right argumentative topic that will best showcase your critical thinking. We’ve aimed to make our suggestions engaging and highly discussable. Alternatively, you might also be interested in browsing through our other teen-specific topic lists of controversial essay topics or debate topics.
1. Is gun control a necessary and sufficient means to prevent school shootings?
2. Examine the historical relationship between capital crime and capital punishment. Is capital punishment likely to be abolished?
3. What are the social and behavioral implications of playing video games?
4. Is “cancel culture” or public shaming yielding meaningful social change?
5. Why are certain school systems better than others (e.g., Finland, Denmark, South Korea)?
6. What is the effect of socioeconomic status on standardized test performance?
7. Do children of divorced parents underperform in school?
8. Is being trilingual more beneficial than being bilingual?
9. Should everyone be allowed to vote?
10. Is digital art collectable and how is its value determined?
Controversial Argumentative Research Paper Topics
Although a good argumentative research paper will likely at least flirt with controversy, pursuing a controversial topic to begin with can be intriguing and intellectually stimulating in the best way. In essence, writing on a controversial topic requires a deep understanding of both sides of the argument. What’s more, typically, opinions are truly polarized, which means that diving into a topic like this provides a perfect opportunity for growth, as a thinker, and as an empath. The list of controversial research topics we’ve compiled includes some of the “classical” debates around ethics, but we’ve also introduced original topic ideas that can inspire your curiosity or trigger a productive brainstorming session. Of course, all of the issues we discuss are far more complex than what a single sentence conveys. But it’s your responsibility as the researcher to familiarize yourself with the core issues and the finer details of your topic before writing your position paper.
1. Should assisted suicide be legal?
2. Should eugenics be illegal?
3. Should sex work be decriminalized?
4. What is the gender landscape in the upper echelon of politics?
5. Are there benefits to having a certain disability (e.g., dyslexia)?
6. Should trans athletes be allowed in competitions?
7. Can computer algorithms show racial bias?
8. Are rehabilitation centers effective in combating addiction?
9. Will gene editing allow science to alter the basic building blocks of life?
10. What factors enable workplace sexual harassment, and can it be prevented?
Easy Argumentative Research Paper Topics
Sometimes a research paper is a short-term affair, and students are only allowed a week or a fortnight to complete it. In these cases, it’s best to opt for an argumentative topic that enjoys significant popularity in the academic circles and therefore has plenty of easy-to-find reading material. After all, the purpose of any research paper assignment is to deepen the students’ understanding of the matter and sharpen their analytical and reasoning skills. (If you’re looking for a challenge, you can find a short list of research topic ideas below, or you can browse our entire essay topic library here.)
1. Should the workweek be shorter?
2. Are small classes better classes?
3. What is the relationship between money and happiness?
4. Is there sexism in sports?
5. Does depression impact general health?
6. Can placebo be classified as treatment?
7. Are dairy products harmful to adult humans?
8. Is multifactor identification making our online presence more secure?
9. Should emotional animals be introduced in schools and colleges?
10. Is breakfast the most important meal of the day?
11. Are school uniforms beneficial?
12. Should patriarchy be the predominant cultural norm?
13. Should domestic work qualify as unpaid labor?
14. Do technological advancements make humans less capable of problem solving?
15. Is street art vandalism or cultural heritage?
Challenging Research Paper Topics
As we mentioned above, if you have more time to write a paper, like a term, or an academic year, you might be interested in choosing a research topic that’s challenging and can really make your work stand out. One of the reasons why the topic ideas we’re suggesting here are challenging, is because there’s not much direct research done on them. However, there’s plenty of research on related phenomena, as well as theoretical frameworks to help you formulate a quality discussion in your paper. Unlike more traditional topics that are discussed at length in academic circles, these topics may invite reading books by interesting contemporary thinkers that aren’t usually in the syllabus. Still, our topic list below provides a perfect opportunity to challenge the reader’s (and your own) intuitive stance on an issue and build an impressive argument.
1. Can universal basic income be a viable solution to poverty?
2. Are there any negative consequences of making certain drugs illegal?
3. Does the insanity defense need a reform?
4. Is a unified cybersecurity framework necessary for a safe online presence?
5. Is having longer life expectancy a good thing (e.g., for the economy)?
6. What is the role of wage inequality in the global economy?
7. What is the right to asylum and how has it evolved through time?
8. Where do financial markets come from?
9. Is “fake it ’till you make it” a reasonable success strategy?
10. Is there racial bias in language and would adjusting lead to meaningful change?
Interesting Research Paper Topics
We are aware that what makes something (in our case a research paper topic) interesting varies greatly and is highly subjective. Generally, to make sure your topic is considered as “interesting,” it needs to be pertinent to the current times and moods, and not have an intuitive correct answer. That said, we’ve tried our hardest to put together a varied and original list of ideas for your argumentative research paper in the hopes that most of our readers will be able to find something worthwhile here.
It’s worth mentioning that the topics range in difficulty and how research intensive they are. As with the challenging topics list above, be mindful of the time you have to prepare for your argumentative paper.
1. Are Internet memes substituting cultural memes?
2. Should animal breeding be abolished as a practice?
3. Does intelligence testing impact different social groups differently?
4. Is a brain needed to communicate?
5. Does sexual dimorphism in the animal kingdom serve a singular purpose?
6. Do AR filters have a negative impact on mental health?
7. Is bankruptcy a viable way for starting over?
8. What are examples of pseudoscience and how does it affect people?
9. What is the opioid crisis and what are the factors that lead to it?
10. Can psychedelic drugs be considered medicine?
11. Does physical appearance determine personality?
12. Is social media causing increased anxiety in certain age groups more than others?
13. Is gaslighting at the workplace different from domestic gaslighting?
14. Does access to the internet make us less trustful of expertise?
15. Does listening to audiobooks provide the same benefit as reading?
Environmental Research Paper Topics
Intuitively, all of us understand that climate issues, global warming, deforestation, clean drinking water access, etc., are important topics. However, the layperson is predominantly ignorant about why these issues are important, what will be the impact of not taking action, and when we’ll start to see the consequences. Choosing to write an argumentative research paper on a topic about the environment presents the author with a unique opportunity to learn concrete details about the mechanics of impending natural disasters, our role in the ecosystem, and what agency we have (if any) to reverse or prevent certain events.
All of these topics could have been under the Compelling argumentative research paper topics category, so if you’re somewhat knowledgeable in the environmental sciences or would like to develop a certain expertise, these are the perfect research topic ideas to get you started.
1. Is climate change reversible?
2. Are paper straws better for the environment than metal straws, than glass straws, than no straws?
3. Is noise pollution a real health concern?
4. Are acid rains humans’ fault?
5. is animal testing necessary for the development of cosmetics?
6. Is planting new trees a meaningful way to combat deforestation?
7. Should everyone recycle and what would be the impact if they did?
8. Does biodiversity benefit from a global pandemic like Covid-19?
9. Is environmental activism effective?
10. Are electric cars less harmful than fuel cars?
Political Research Paper Topics
Writing on political issues could be tricky in this format. The argumentative research paper requires taking a stance, while political writing should be carefully neutral, especially when discussing political parties or practices. When tackling some of these topics, be sure to pay extra attention to the position of the opposition and, if possible, briefly discuss it where appropriate. Here are some political research topics examples:
1. What are the implications for privacy of the Patriot Act?
2. What are the implications of making universal healthcare available?
3. Is the homelessness crisis preventable?
4. Does increasing police budgets lead to safer states?
5. Is Israeli politics fair to the Palestinians?
6. Is pardoning criminals an effective practice?
7. Is media coverage biased, and how?
8. Is the two-party system superior to the multi-party system?
9. Should population growth be controlled by the government?
10. Is racial bias increased by perceived difference in power?
Compelling Argumentative Research Paper Topics
If you’re already working on an argumentative research paper, choosing a compelling position to argue could come quite naturally. Typically, the topics you’d focus on in this case would be considered highly impactful. For example, taking a stance on marriage equality and presenting a strong argument could compel your audience to take action to defend the position you’ve argued publicly. In turn, this could lead to policy change or other events that will impact the people who are looking for marriage equality.
The research topic suggestions below are a great starting point for finding your compelling research paper topic. But if you’re looking for more inspiration, here’s a list of persuasive essay topics that might also inspire you.
1. Should people stop eating meat?
2. Should same-sex marriage be decriminalized?
3. Should the right to parenthood be universal?
4. Is anti-vaxxing dangerous?
5. Should censorship be enforced on social media?
6. Do same-sex couples have a role in society?
7. Are zero-waste policies sufficient to reduce our carbon footprint?
8. Is individualized learning better than group learning?
9. Can we trust memories?
10. Do calorie counting diets create new forms of eating disorders?
Hopefully, after studying our list of 105 argumentative research paper topics, your brain is full of good ideas to explore further. Remember, once you find a topic you believe is suitable for you, and you find it interesting(!), don’t forget to double check that it’s indeed that interesting; that you have some expertise on the subject matter; and that there’s plenty of previous research for you to step on.
And if you still cannot make up your mind and need more inspiration, consider looking for topic ideas in unexpected places. For instance, browse this list of cause and effect essay topics, or look up the documentary films of the past decade – something there might spark your creativity!