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Argument Based Research Paper Topic

Updated, March 2, 2017 | We published an updated version of this list, “401 Prompts for Argumentative Writing,” as well as a companion piece, “650 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing.” We also now have a PDF of these 200 prompts.

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What issues do you care most about? What topics do you find yourself discussing most passionately, whether online, at the dinner table, in the classroom or with your friends?

Our annual Student Editorial Contest invites you to write an evidence-based persuasive piece on an issue that matters to you. To help jump-start your brainstorming, we have gathered a list of 200 writing prompts from our daily Student Opinion feature that invite you to take a stand.

Though you won’t be limited to these topics for the contest, you’ll see that our list touches on every aspect of modern life, from politics to sports, culture, education and technology. We hope the range inspires you, and we hope the fact that each question links to at least one related Times article gives you a starting point for finding evidence.

So skim the list below to think about the topic you’d most like to take on.

For more information, here are links to our spring 2014 editorial-writing contest, a list of winners from that contest and a related lesson plan on argumentative writing.


Education

  1. Is Cheating Getting Worse?
  2. Should Students Be Able to Grade Their Teachers?
  3. Does Your School Hand Out Too Many A’s?
  4. Should Middle School Students Be Drug Tested?
  5. Should Reading and Math Be Taught in Gym Class Too?
  6. How Seriously Should We Take Standardized Tests?
  7. How Well Do You Think Standardized Tests Measure Your Abilities?
  8. Do You Spend Too Much Time Preparing for Standardized Tests?
  9. Should Schools Offer Cash Bonuses for Good Test Scores?
  10. Should We Rethink How Long Students Spend in High School?
  11. Do Schools Provide Students With Enough Opportunities to Be Creative?
  12. What Are You Really Learning at School?
  13. How Important Is Arts Education?
  14. Does Gym Help Students Perform Better in All Their Classes?
  15. Who Should Be Able to See Students’ Records?
  16. Are Children of Illegal Immigrants Entitled to a Public Education?
  17. What Is the Right Amount of Group Work in School?
  18. Is Your School Day Too Short?
  19. Do You Think a Longer School Calendar Is a Good Idea?
  20. Should the Dropout Age Be Raised?
  21. Should Students Be Allowed to Skip Senior Year of High School?
  22. How Does Your School Deal With Students Who Misbehave?
  23. Should Schools Be Allowed to Use Corporal Punishment?
  24. How Big a Problem Is Bullying or Cyberbullying in Your School or Community?
  25. How Should Schools Address Bullying?
  26. Should Schools Put Tracking Devices in Students’ ID Cards?
  27. What Do You Think of Grouping Students by Ability in Schools?
  28. Do We Need a New Way to Teach Math?
  29. Does Class Size Matter?
  30. Should All Students Get Equal Space in a Yearbook?
  31. Is Prom Worth It?
  32. How Important Are Parent-Teacher Conferences?
  33. Should All Children Be Able to Go to Preschool?
  34. Should Colleges Use Admissions Criteria Other Than SAT Scores and Grades?
  35. What Criteria Should Be Used in Awarding Scholarships for College?
  36. Do You Support Affirmative Action?
  37. Do College Rankings Matter?
  38. How Necessary Is a College Education?
  39. Should Engineers Pay Less for College Than English Majors?

  40. Technology and Social Media

  41. Are the Web Filters at Your School Too Restrictive?
  42. Does Technology Make Us More Alone?
  43. Are You Distracted by Technology?
  44. Do Apps Help You or Just Waste Your Time?
  45. Do You Spend Too Much Time on Smart Phones Playing ‘Stupid Games’?
  46. Has Facebook Lost Its Edge?
  47. Does Facebook Ever Make You Feel Bad?
  48. Should What You Say on Facebook Be Grounds for Getting Fired?
  49. Should People Be Allowed to Obscure Their Identities Online?
  50. What Should the Punishment Be for Acts of Cyberbullying?
  51. Is Online Learning as Good as Face-to-Face Learning?
  52. Do Your Teachers Use Technology Well?
  53. Should Tablet Computers Become the Primary Way Students Learn in Class?
  54. Can Cellphones Be Educational Tools?
  55. Should Computer Games Be Used for Classroom Instruction?
  56. How Young Is Too Young for an iPhone?
  57. Should Companies Collect Information About You?
  58. Would You Trade Your Paper Books for Digital Versions?
  59. Are Digital Photographs Too Plentiful to Be Meaningful?
  60. Do You Worry We Are Filming Too Much?
  61. Would You Want a Pair of Google’s Computer Glasses?
  62. How Would You Feel About a Computer Grading Your Essays?
  63. What Role Will Robots Play in Our Future?
  64. How Many Text Messages Are Too Many?
  65. How Much Do You Trust Online Reviews?

  66. Arts and Media: TV, Music, Video Games and Literature

  67. Why Do We Like to Watch Rich People on TV and in the Movies?
  68. Do TV Shows Like ‘16 and Pregnant’ Promote or Discourage Teenage Pregnancy?
  69. Does TV Capture the Diversity of America Yet?
  70. Is TV Too White?
  71. Is TV Stronger Than Ever, or Becoming Obsolete?
  72. Does Reality TV Promote Dangerous Stereotypes?
  73. What Current Musicians Do You Think Will Stand the Test of Time?
  74. What Artists or Bands of Today Are Destined for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
  75. What Musician, Actor or Author Should Be a Superstar, but Hasn’t Quite Made It Yet?
  76. Will Musical Training Make You More Successful?
  77. Should Video Games Be Considered a Sport?
  78. Should Stores Sell Violent Video Games to Minors?
  79. Can a Video Game Be a Work of Art?
  80. Do Violent Video Games Make People More Violent in Real Life?
  81. When Should You Feel Guilty for Killing Zombies?
  82. What Game Would You Like to Redesign?
  83. What Were the Best Movies You Saw in the Past Year?
  84. To What Writer Would You Award a Prize?
  85. Do You Prefer Your Children’s Book Characters Obedient or Contrary?
  86. Where Is the Line Between Truth and Fiction?
  87. Can Graffiti Ever Be Considered Art?
  88. Do We Need Art in Our Lives?
  89. What Makes a Good Commercial?
  90. Why Did a Cheerios Ad Attract So Many Angry Comments Online?
  91. Does Pop Culture Deserve Serious Study?

  92. Gender Issues

  93. Do Parents Have Different Hopes and Standards for Their Sons Than for Their Daughters?
  94. Is School Designed More for Girls Than Boys?
  95. Is There Too Much Pressure on Girls to Have ‘Perfect’ Bodies?
  96. How Much Pressure Do Boys Face to Have the Perfect Body?
  97. Do Photoshopped Images Make You Feel Bad About Your Own Looks?
  98. Is It O.K. for Men and Boys to Comment on Women and Girls on the Street?
  99. What Should We Do to Fight Sexual Violence Against Young Women?
  100. How Do You Feel About Rihanna and Chris Brown Getting Back Together?
  101. Do Fraternities Promote Misogyny?
  102. Why Aren’t There More Girls in Leadership Roles?
  103. Why Aren’t More Girls Choosing to Pursue Careers in Math and Science?
  104. Should Women Be Allowed to Fight on the Front Lines Alongside Men?
  105. Do You Believe in Equal Rights for Women and Men?
  106. Are Women Better at Compromising and Collaborating?
  107. Do Boys Have Less Intense Friendships Than Girls?

  108. Sports and Athletics

  109. If Football Is So Dangerous to Players, Should We Be Watching It?
  110. Should Parents Let Their Children Play Football?
  111. Should College Football Players Get Paid?
  112. When Do Pranks Cross the Line to Become Bullying?
  113. Has Baseball Lost Its Cool?
  114. Are Some Youth Sports Too Intense?
  115. Is It Offensive for Sports Teams to Use Native American Names and Mascots?
  116. Where Should Colleges and Sports Teams Draw the Line in Selling Naming Rights?
  117. Should Colleges Fund Wellness Programs Instead of Sports?
  118. Is Cheerleading a Sport?
  119. How Big a Deal Is It That an N.B.A. Player Came Out as Gay?
  120. Should There Be Stricter Rules About How Coaches Treat Their Players?
  121. Should Athletes Who Dope Have to Forfeit Their Titles and Medals?
  122. Should Sports Betting Be Legal Everywhere?
  123. Should Home-Schoolers Be Allowed to Play Public School Sports?
  124. Would You Want a Bike Share Program for Your Community?

  125. Politics and the Legal System

  126. What Local Problems Do You Think Your Mayor Should Try to Solve?
  127. If You Were Governor of Your State, How Would You Spend a Budget Surplus?
  128. When Is the Use of Military Force Justified?
  129. What Is More Important: Our Privacy or National Security?
  130. Should the U.S. Be Spying on Its Friends?
  131. Do You Trust Your Government?
  132. What Do You Think of the Police Tactic of Stop-and-Frisk?
  133. Do Rich People Get Off Easier When They Break the Law?
  134. Should Rich People Have to Pay More Taxes?
  135. Do Laws That Ban Offensive Words Make the World a Better Place?
  136. Is It Principled, or Irresponsible, for Politicians to Threaten a Shutdown?
  137. Do Leaders Have Moral Obligations?
  138. Do Great Leaders Have to Be Outgoing?
  139. How Should We Prevent Future Mass Shootings?
  140. Should Guns Be Permitted on College Campuses?
  141. Would You Feel Safer With Armed Guards Patrolling Your School?
  142. What Is Your Relationship With Guns?
  143. Do You Support or Oppose the Death Penalty?
  144. When Should Juvenile Offenders Receive Life Sentences?

  145. Parenting and Childhood

  146. Do We Give Children Too Many Trophies?
  147. When Do You Become an Adult?
  148. When Should You Be Able to Buy Cigarettes, Drink Alcohol, Vote, Drive and Fight in Wars?
  149. Should the Morning-After Pill Be Sold Over the Counter to People Under 17?
  150. Should Birth Control Pills Be Available to Teenage Girls Without a Prescription?
  151. Is Modern Culture Ruining Childhood?
  152. Are Adults Hurting Young Children by Pushing Them to Achieve?
  153. How, and by Whom, Should Children Be Taught Appropriate Behavior?
  154. What Can Older People Learn From Your Generation?
  155. Do ‘Shame and Blame’ Work to Change Teenage Behavior?
  156. How Should Children Be Taught About Puberty and Sex?
  157. Is Dating a Thing of the Past?
  158. How Should Parents Handle a Bad Report Card?
  159. Should Children Be Allowed to Wear Whatever They Want?
  160. How Should Educators and Legislators Deal With Minors Who ‘Sext’?
  161. Do You Think Child Stars Have It Rough?

  162. Health and Nutrition

  163. Is Smoking Still a Problem Among Teenagers?
  164. Are Antismoking Ads Effective?
  165. Is Drinking and Driving Still a Problem for Teenagers?
  166. Do You Think a Healthier School Lunch Program Is a Lost Cause?
  167. How Concerned Are You About Where Your Food Comes From?
  168. Is It Ethical to Eat Meat?
  169. Do You Prefer Your Tacos ‘Authentic’ or ‘Appropriated’?
  170. Should the Government Limit the Size of Sugary Drinks?
  171. Should Marijuana Be Legal?
  172. Should Students Be Required to Take Drug Tests?

  173. Personal Character and Morality Questions

  174. Do Bystanders Have a Responsibility to Intervene When There is Trouble?
  175. Should You Care About the Health and Safety of Those Making Your Clothing?
  176. Can Money Buy You Happiness?
  177. Does Buying and Accumulating More and More Stuff Make Us Happier?
  178. Are We Losing the Art of Listening?
  179. Do People Complain Too Much?
  180. Can Kindness Become Cool?
  181. Which Is More Important: Talent or Hard Work?
  182. How Important Is Keeping Your Cool?
  183. When Should You Compromise?
  184. Is Your Generation More Self-Centered Than Earlier Generations?
  185. Can You Be Good Without God?
  186. Have Curse Words Become So Common They Have Lost Their Shock Value?
  187. What Words or Phrases Should Be Retired in 2014?
  188. What Words or Phrases Do You Think Are Overused?
  189. Should Couples Live Together Before Marriage?
  190. How Important Do You Think It Is to Marry Someone With the Same Religion?
  191. How Long Is It O.K. to Linger in a Cafe or Restaurant?
  192. Does Keeping a Messy Desk Make People More Creative?
  193. How Important Is Keeping a Clean House?

  194. Science

  195. Should Scientists Try to Help People Beat Old Age So We Can Live Longer Lives?
  196. Given Unlimited Resources, What Scientific or Medical Problem Would You Investigate?
  197. When Is It O.K. to Replace Human Limbs With Technology?
  198. Do You Think Life Exists — or Has Ever Existed — Somewhere Besides Earth?
  199. Should Fertilized Eggs Be Given Legal ‘Personhood’?
  200. How Concerned Are You About Climate Change?

  201. Other Questions

  202. Is It Wrong for a Newspaper to Publish a Front-Page Photo of a Man About to Die?
  203. What Causes Should Philanthropic Groups Finance?
  204. Should Charities Focus More on America?
  205. Should the Private Lives of Famous People Be Off Limits?
  206. Did a Newspaper Act Irresponsibly by Publishing the Addresses of Gun Owners?
  207. Would You Rather Work From Home or in an Office?
  208. What Time Should Black Friday Sales Start?
  209. Do You Shop at Locally Owned Businesses?
  210. How Much Does Your Neighborhood Define Who You Are?

You’ve spent quite a bit of time in your English classes writing argumentative essays. You’ve even gotten pretty good at writing on the topics your instructor assigns. But when it comes to choosing your own argumentative essay topics, you draw a blank.

It’s not that there aren’t any good topics to choose from. It’s that you start over-thinking it, wondering if each topic is too cliche, overdone, or just not good enough.

Chances are, all you need to do is relax and find a topic you’re passionate about and, of course, one that’s debatable.

Why Pick Debatable Argumentative Essay Topics?

The name of the essay says it all—argumentative. It would be a lot easier to write an essay on something that people generally agree on, certainly. But that’s not really the point of an argumentative essay.

It’s important to choose debatable argumentative essay topics. You need opposing points that you can counter with your own points.

The world isn’t black and white—there are a lot of gray areas. This is good because it means there are a lot of topics you can choose from.

I’ve listed 70 argumentative essay topics below, phrased as questions, to help get you started. I’ve separated the topics into five categories—legal, moral, social, media, and family. And I’ve even included a helpful link for each topic.

Feel free to use the topics for your own essay or as inspiration to create your own original topic.

14 Legal Argumentative Essay Topics

Argumentative essay topics about legal matters are a popular choice. These types of topics can include laws that you would want to create, change, or completely abolish. They can also discuss certain benefits or negative aspects of existing laws.

You don’t have to get super technical with legal argumentative essays. But you do need to do your research on what the current laws about your chosen topic actually say.

After all, you don’t want to suggest a changing a law that’s already been changed in the way you want.

  1. Should cigarettes and other tobacco products be outlawed?
  2. Should prostitution be legal?
  3. Do the benefits of medical marijuana justify its legality?
  4. Is the drinking age appropriate (should it be lower, higher, or stay the same)?
  5. Should nuclear weapons be outlawed worldwide?
  6. Should the United States put more restrictions on gun ownership and use?
  7. At what age should girls have access to birth control without the consent of their parents?
  8. Should cellphone use be banned while driving?
  9. Does outlawing controlled substances only create a larger black market?
  10. Should corporations be granted personhood?
  11. Should juveniles be sentenced to life in prison?
  12. In what situations, if any, does a woman have a right to an abortion?
  13. Should restaurants be required to include calories on all menu items?
  14. Should an added tax be placed on sugary drinks, such as sodas?

14 Moral Argumentative Essay Topics

Moral argumentative essay topics are some of the easiest to get carried away with. They can cover a variety of moral dilemmas, from animal testing to the death penalty.

These topics tend to be very debatable because people have different opinions—and justifications for those opinions—on what they think is right or wrong.

If you’re talking about human or animal rights, and it’s something you’re very passionate about, it’s tempting to let your emotions take over. While it’s good to be passionate in an argumentative essay, remember to keep your thoughts focused and organized.

It’s definitely worth your time to create an outline. It helps ensure you don’t stray off topic. If you need help crafting an outline, review these two resources:

  1. Is animal testing necessary?
  2. Should consumers buy items from countries that endorse child labor?
  3. Do patients have a right to die via physician-assisted suicide?
  4. Should children’s beauty pageants be banned?
  5. Are nude photographs appropriate in museums that are open to the public?
  6. Should schools and businesses give more incentives for people to do volunteer work?
  7. Are atheists less moral than theists?
  8. Does freedom of speech give people the right to use hate speech?
  9. Do people who commit heinous crimes deserve the death penalty?
  10. Do pre-employment drug tests infringe on personal privacy rights?
  11. Should employees be able to have visible tattoos in the workplace?
  12. Are cameras in public places an invasion of privacy?
  13. Should teens be allowed to have cosmetic surgery?
  14. Should Dreamers be allowed to stay in the United States?

14 Social Argumentative Essay Topics

Social argumentative essay topics tend to overlap with legal and moral topics. But argumentative topics deal more about how individuals act within society and what kinds of pressures society puts on individuals or groups of people.

This is a pretty broad category. There are a lot of topics to choose from and even more that you could create on your own. If you get stuck on which topic to write about, consider something that personally affects you or someone close to you.

This should make writing about that topic come more naturally. Just be sure to rely on facts and not on personal anecdotes. Such anecdotes are more appropriate to the narrative essay realm.

Remember, even though you may be writing about something that affects you personally, the argument essay isn’t usually the place for first person point of view. Most argumentative research papers require you to use third person.

  1. Is there too much pressure on teenagers to go to college?
  2. At what age should citizens be allowed to vote in the United States?
  3. Should more rights be given to immigrants?
  4. Can heterosexual men and women truly be friends with no hopes or expectations of anything more?
  5. In what case(s) could it be considered fair for a company to not hire a candidate who smokes cigarettes?
  6. Should the United States make English the official national language?
  7. Should women wear less-revealing clothing in order to curb men’s catcalling?
  8. Do prisoners deserve the right to vote?
  9. Should there be a legal curfew for minors?
  10. Can online dating replace meeting a person in real life?
  11. Does social media create isolation?
  12. Should welfare recipients be required to submit to drug tests?
  13. Should adoptive parents be given some form of maternity leave?
  14. Can video games be a useful learning tool?

14 Advertising and Media Argumentative Essay Topics

Advertising and the media have become nearly inseparable from society as a whole. Essays written on these topics can include various angles.

For instance, you could look at how media (television, news, movies, magazines, social media, etc.) affects society. But you could also look at what should be allowed to be seen or heard through media and advertisements.

Inspiration to create your own advertising or media argumentative essay topics isn’t hard to find. Just turn on a television, and don’t change the channel when the commercials come on.

Pay close attention to all things electronic. You’ll be sure to find something debatable about what you see.

  1. Should sex be allowed to be portrayed on prime time television?
  2. Where should networks draw the line for violence on television?
  3. Should news shows talk about celebrities?
  4. Do journalists have a duty to eliminate as much bias as possible?
  5. Is it acceptable for companies to advertise in schools?
  6. In what situations should advertisements for alcohol and tobacco products be allowed?
  7. Should warnings and side effects be made more clear in advertisements?
  8. Is print advertising obsolete?
  9. Do TV shows and movies have the responsibility of being more diverse?
  10. Are public service announcements effective?
  11. Do photoshopped images affect self-image and self-esteem?
  12. Do reality shows, such as Teen Mom, glorify teen pregnancy?
  13. Does the media create unrealistic expectations of relationships and marriage?
  14. Does the media attempt to create hype to influence or scare the public?

14 Family Argumentative Essay Topics

Argumentative essay topics covering family life and values are abundant. That’s because every family is different. Rules in families vary on a case-by-case basis, contrary to laws that govern a state or nation.

Because each family is different, it’s hard to generalize in this type of essay.

However, there’s a ton of research on child development and psychology, marital psychology, and personal stories from parents and their children. You can get enough information to make an argument for any of the topics below (or for a topic of your own).

Not sure where to find sources? Check out 5 Best Sources to Help With Writing a Research Paper.

  1. At what age should parents talk to their children about sex?
  2. Do children deserve/need an allowance?
  3. Is it okay for parents to monitor teens’ Internet use?
  4. Should parents be able to spank their children?
  5. Is it acceptable for women to breastfeed in public?
  6. Should parenting classes be compulsory?
  7. Should parents push their kids into extracurricular activities, such as music or sports?
  8. Are children’s rooms really theirs, or do the rooms “belong” to parents’?
  9. Should single people be able to adopt children as easily as couples?
  10. Should same-sex couples be allowed to adopt children as easily as heterosexual couples?
  11. Which parenting style is most effective?
  12. Should parents pay children for good grades?
  13. How does helicopter parenting harm (or help) kids?
  14. At what age should children be allowed to have a cellphone?

Final Thoughts on Choosing Argumentative Essay Topics

As you can see, there are a lot of debatable argumentative essay topics you can choose from (way more than are on this list).

For more ideas, read these posts:

Need to narrow down a broad topic into something more manageable? Read How to Narrow a Topic and Write a Focused Paper.

And if you’d like a few more argument essay tips, take a look these posts:

Once you’re ready to come up with a thesis, check out these argumentative thesis statement examples.

Not sure what a completed argument essay should look like? Read 2 Argumentative Essay Examples With a Fighting Chance.

When picking your topic, keep in mind that it’s much easier to write about something that you already have interest in. In fact, that’s true even if you don’t know a whole lot about it. Researching the topic will allow you to learn more about what fascinates you.

And if you pick something you actually like, writing the essay will be more enjoyable.

If you’ve wrapped up your argument but think there may be a few holes in your logic, send your essay over to the Kibin editors. They’ll help give you the winning edge in whatever you’re debating.

Good luck!

Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.

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