Good Rhetorical Essay Topics 2014

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?

Tired of writing about the same tired old topics like the ban on smoking in public places, the dangers of texting and driving, or gun control? Good. Your professors are tired of reading about these topics, too.

When you’re writing a research paper, you want to impress your professors with your writing skills, but you also want to offer new insights into a topic. You won’t likely be able to write anything new and enlightening about these tired old topics in only a few thousand words.

So how do you impress your professor if you think he or she has heard it all before?

To begin with, try a newer and more original topic.

Stumped for fresh ideas?

Don’t worry. This blog post contains 25 interesting research paper topics to get you started.

5 Interesting Research Paper Topics on Local Issues

True, it might take a little more effort to research local issues, but you’re up for the challenge, right?

Besides, learning and writing about the concerns of your community not only keeps you informed and involved, but also makes for a great research paper.

A great research paper means a great grade, so how can you go wrong?

To start researching local issues, head straight to local newspapers and online sources. They won’t provide all the details you’ll need to write an in-depth research essay, but they’re a good place to begin your research.

Researching local issues is also another chance for you to practice your interviewing skills. (After all, you’ll need them when you become the next host of The Tonight Show, right?) Seriously though, what better way to get the inside scoop than by interviewing the parties directly involved in the issue?

Not sure what types of local issues to research? Try one of these.

Interesting Research Paper Topic #1. Local Political Scandals

Has a local politician embezzled money, been charged with corruption, or been involved in a sizzling sex scandal?

Interesting Research Paper Topic #2: Local University Dramas

Are employees trying to form (or break) local unions? Are students fighting for lower tuition or book costs? Has the college president (or other administrator) been in the local news lately for any number of issues? Are police investigating a cheating or athletic scandal?

Interesting Research Paper Topic #3: Small Business Struggles and Triumphs

Is a small business a cornerstone in your community, and you want to research its impact on the community? Is a small business struggling due to a new big box store in the area?

Interesting Research Paper Topic #4: Local Government Issues

Should local government do more to help its citizens? Should more money be allocated to fix roads and bridges? Is the city providing adequate services such as clean water, trash pick up, safe neighborhoods, etc.?

Interesting Research Paper Topic #5. Local Public School Battles

Have students and/or teachers been involved in a sexting scandal?  Are the school board and/or parents battling over a new curriculum, athletic reform, or some other topic?

5 Interesting Research Paper Topics on Health and the Environment

You can research environmental or health topics ranging from small, local and regional topics to large, global issues.

For instance, you might research the best practices of sustainable cities to explain how your own city might work to emulate them. On the other hand, you might write from a global perspective and examine sustainable cities across the world.

If you’re writing about the environment or health, you might consider one of the following topics.

Interesting Research Paper Topic #6: BPA

Due to concerns with contaminants such a BPA, are canned foods safe to eat? Should stricter regulations be in place for labeling plastics containing BPA?

Interesting Research Paper Topic #7: Hunting Carnivores

Should the practice of killing carnivorous animals (such as wolves) to protect farms and livestock be stopped? Do ranchers have a right to protect their livestock by killing wolves? What are the results of allowing wolves to thrive?

Interesting Research Paper Topic #8: Sustainable Cities

Are sustainable cities and neighborhoods really possible? What are some examples of existing sustainable cities, and what are their best practices? What steps can you take to make your community sustainable?

Interesting Research Paper Topic #9: Plastic Bags

Should plastic bags (including plastic grocery bags) be banned in all 50 states? Should grocery stores charge a fee for each plastic bag used at the checkout? What are the effects of plastic bag bans in states that have already adopted the policy?

Interesting Research Paper Topic #10: Mountaintop Removal Mining

Should mountaintop removal mining be allowed to continue? Is mountaintop removal mining an effective coal mining method? What are the impacts of this type of mining on the communities that do it?

5 Interesting Research Paper Topics on Social Issues

Social topics impact us all. If you’re writing about social issues, you will generally be writing about how the topic affects larger groups of people, such as how poverty affects an entire generation.

However, keep in mind that social issues might also focus on smaller groups, such as a city or neighborhood.

If you’re feeling a little antisocial right now, spend a few minutes Googling some of these topics to see if they might work for your research paper.

Interesting Research Paper Topic #11: High School Dropouts

What social, personal, and political concerns lead to high school dropout rates? What are possible solutions to help decrease the dropout rate?

Interesting Research Paper Topic #12: Children and Poverty

How are children affected by poverty? What can governments do to help reduce child poverty? What can you do to help reduce child poverty?

Interesting Research Paper Topic #13: Medical Rights of Youths

Should 16 and 17 year olds have the right to refuse medical treatment? At what age do people have the right to determine whether or not they receive medical treatment?

Interesting Research Paper Topic #14: Overmedication of Children

Are children being overly medicated? If so, what is the driving force behind the rise in prescriptions?

Interesting Research Paper Topic #15: Free College Education

Should a college education be free for all U.S. citizens? How are free universities in Germany and other European countries benefiting these countries and students?

5 Interesting Research Paper Topics on Law Enforcement

Researching any issue about government or laws can become overwhelming because of the complexity of the issues and even because of the wording of some laws.

Spending time to review sufficient sources (and maybe getting a little help from a political science professor) will help you understand the topic.

Here are 5 topics to get you started.

Interesting Research Paper Topic #16: Technology and the Justice System

Is ShotSpotter technology reliable? Should the surveillance technology be admissible in court?

Interesting Research Paper Topic #17: Policing U.S. Law Enforcement

Should all police officers be required to wear body cameras? Will the use of body cameras reduce police brutality, and/or will it create a safer working environment for police?

Interesting Research Paper Topic #18: Juvenile Crime and Punishment

Should solitary confinement be banned for juveniles? Should juveniles be exempt from life sentences? Should juveniles be punished as adults for certain types of crimes?

Interesting Research Paper Topic #19: Incarceration Rates in the U.S.

What factors have led to increasing incarceration rates? How has this affected the U.S. economically and socially?

Interesting Research Paper Topic #20: License Plate Readers

Are license plate readers an invasion of privacy? Or, are these readers a necessary tool for law enforcement?

5 Interesting Research Paper Topics on Media, Social Media, and Advertising

As with anything involving media, social media, and advertising, watch out for biased and inaccurate information.

People like to share their opinions on such topics through forums, blogs, and their own websites. You know the type: the guy or gal who does nothing but blog all day long about the newest movie, the newest XBox game, or even the funniest Super Bowl commercial.

Though reading some anonymous blog that includes a glowing review of Grand Theft Auto and reading another that includes a scathing criticism of the sexism in the game might inspire some creative thought, you shouldn’t consider them credible research sources.

So remember, as you’re researching, make sure to look for credible resources. (Read How to Apply the CRAAP Test to Your Essay Sources.)

Not sure where to begin to look for ideas for media-related topics? You start with these.

Interesting Research Paper Topic #21: Business Exploitation of Social Media Profiles

Are teens (or adults) concerned that their use of social media is being exploited for profit by large companies? How do these new marketing strategies affect consumers and consumerism?

Interesting Research Paper Topic #22: Social Media and Self-Esteem

Can the use of social media, such as Facebook, lower teens’ self-esteem? Are there instances where these sites can help to raise teens’ self-esteem?

Interesting Research Paper Topic #23: E-Sports

Should e-sports be recognized as college sports? Can a sport that requires little physical ability really be considered a sport?

Interesting Research Paper Topic #24: Advertising in Schools

Should corporate advertising be allowed in public schools? Does corporate advertising provide much needed revenue to schools with limited federal funding?

Interesting Research Paper Topic #25: Advertising and Stereotypes

How does advertising perpetuate gender and/or racial stereotypes? Are ad campaigns that attempt to reverse the norms more or less effective?

Closing Tips on Writing an Interesting Research Paper

Remember, an interesting research paper starts with an interesting research paper topic. But choosing your topic is only the beginning.

Make sure you read How to Write a Research Paper: A Step-by-Step Guide to help you with refining and researching your topic and writing the final paper.

Don’t forget to choose a topic that interest you. If you’re bored while writing your paper, that will definitely show in your final product. If you’re excited about the topic, that will show too!

Not sure if you can work with any of the topics here?  For more ideas, read 50 Research Paper Topics to Help Jumpstart Your Writing.

Looking for additional help choosing and refining interesting research paper topics? Try this resource! Want some additional help finding and narrowing your topic? Read this!

After you’ve written your paper and feel it’s complete, have one of our Kibin editors review it to make sure it’s great!

Good luck!

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

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