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Writing Studies II: Exploring Topics

Argumentative Essays

Argumentative essays require you to select a topic that has two or more sides to an issue and conduct research to come up with a conclusion after analyzing all relevant data.  There are a couple of important aspects to think about when selecting a topic for an argumentative essay.

1) Make sure that it is something that is relevant to you, and 2) Make sure it something that has more than one side to the question and research.

Facts on File

Facts on File "Issues and Controversies" database contains unbiased information on current topics.  While this is can be used as a starting off point in selecting topics and providing background information, it is not meant to be part of the actual investigative process of your research unless you are linking out to journals and other references cited within the Facts of File article.

Choosing a Topic

Whether you a given a list of topics to choose from or selecting a topic of choice, your selection is incredibly important.  For instance, if you select a topic that does not interest you or that is too broad or narrow, it will impact the finished product of your work.  Below are some strategies to utilize when deciding on a topic and some websites that contain topic lists for your particular area(s) of study.

  • Brainstorm
  • Select a topic that will have enough supporting information
  • Select a topic that will be manageable (i.e. not too broad or narrow)
  • Use keywords and synonyms effectively
  • Remember that topics with research must be malleable (subject to change throughout the research process)
  • Define your topic
  • State the context of your topic (Remember that the same topic when applied to different subject areas have different meanings
  • Understand your topic (Do reference research to ensure you know a little about what you are writing about before beginning the research process)
  • Use your topic to generate a thesis statement

Finding Topic Ideas

Think about what you are interested in and would like to learn more about.  For instance, are you interested in hiking? Try looking up hiking in trails in Kentucky.  Do you enjoy a sport?  May visit the organizational page for the sport that you are interested in and see what is going on in the field.

If you really get stuck, you can also browse CREDO Reference's Topic Pages for ideas.

Read Newspapers, Magazines, and Journals