Research: Writing Like a Scholar
A research paper is an expanded essay that presents your own interpretation, evaluation, or argument, using what knowledge is already available on the subject. This type of paper involves studying a topic in order to find the best possible information in that field. Your paper must present your own opinions and ideas supported by your research, correctly credited to the original authors and organizations.
Length: 900-1,500 words. A minimum of 900 words (approximately 3.5 double-spaced pages) is required in order for your essay to be substantial. What is important is that you get your point across.
Organization: Introduction, supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion.
Language: Use formal language and avoid the use of first and second person — avoid references to yourself (NO “I believe, in my opinion” etc.), no personal anecdotes, and do not address the reader (avoid “you” altogether).
Documentation: five correctly documented quotes or paraphrases from five adequate sources.
Style: APA style is usually used for the type of research you will be doing. Continue in that style unless otherwise stated by your professor.
Cross-referencing: You must use in-text citations (also known as in-text references) or signal phrases each time you use the words or ideas of your sources in the essay. Cross-reference your work as explained in your handbook. The handbook is especially necessary for this essay.
Support: You’ll need a minimum of five sources. Support your ideas with expert opinion, facts, statistics, and other information you find in your research. It is a mistake to create a Frankenstein research paper by copying and pasting.
This list provides topics which are focused (not too broad), challenging (not just factual), and grounded (not too speculative). All the topics are debatable, establishing a basis for a good persuasive argument paper.
Choose one of these topics:
Student Loans: A generation ago, the federal government opened its student loan bank to profit-making corporations. Since then, law by law, student debt has become the worst kind of debt for American students (best for banks and loan collectors). Student loans are not even allowed to be dismissed in bankruptcy. Consider some possible solutions: Permitting loan forgiveness, allowing bankruptcy, eliminating private collection agencies from this process.
Water/Environment: Last year, Americans bought more than 4 billion gallons of water in individual-portion bottles. The environmental impact to all those plastic bottles, made from non-renewable resources like natural gas and petroleum is a concern. Although bottled water is 10,000 times the cost of tap water, consumers are reluctant to give up their bottled water. They feel bottled water is safer and convenient to carry around. In your thesis take a position for or against buying bottled water.
Human trafficking: The exploitation of human beings is a world problem, yet this form of slavery is not something that only occurs outside our borders. The United States Department of State estimates that between 14,000 and 18,000 individuals are trafficked into the country each year. The laws in place have not been helpful in controlling this kind of trafficking. Choose a position: More border regulation should/should not be in place to reduce human trafficking into the United States.
Fat Tax: More and more countries are adopting fat taxes (adding more tax to junk food and soft drinks) in an effort to curb rising obesity rates and also to offset the economic costs of obesity. Numerous studies suggest that as the price of a food decreases, individuals get fatter. Yet, since the poor spend a greater portion of their income on food, such a tax has been said to be regressive. In your thesis, take a position for or against the fat tax.
Terrorism: Determine what your position is with dealing with terrorists. Consider whether the United States should negotiate with groups that are religious or apocalyptic in their objectives, such as “Islamic State,” as opposed to groups that are political. Take a position: Negotiating with terrorists is appropriate in all cases, is never appropriate, or appropriate in some cases.
Drunk Driving: Taking away the licenses of drunk driving offenders has not proven successful (they drive anyway), so consider an argument for or against more stringent law enforcement, such as requiring ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders, sobriety checkpoints and whatever new technology or regulation could prevent drunks from continuing on the road while inebriated.
Teen Drivers: Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death to 15 to 20-year olds. Teen drivers are three times more likely than drivers aged 21 and older to be in a fatal crash. Because of this, many states have adopted driver training courses required of teen drivers. Should we in Florida? Choose a position: All Florida citizens under the age of 21 should/ should not be required to pass a complete driving education course before receiving a license to drive.
Senior Drivers: Because of high accident rates and the increasing risk elderly drivers impose on roadway safety, advocates want drivers’ licensing requirements across the nation to become more stringent as drivers age. Choose a position: All citizens over the age of 75 should/should not be given yearly driving and vision exams in order to renew licenses.
Bike Paths: Decide on your position for or against using transportation taxes to build bike paths parallel to major roads. There are cyclists and drivers against bike paths, but the number of accidents happening in Florida have many citizens, drivers and cyclists among them, calling for paths to be built. Bike paths in the Miami community is a more focused topic, but you can use national arguments and examples from outside Miami.
School Shootings/ Gun Control: Choose a topic in which you you approve or disapprove of some kind of gun control policy specifically targeted to help eliminate school shootings (gun control, along with metal detectors, gun control targeted to mentally unstable families, etc.). Your topic and approach, whichever position you take, should offer solutions on what can be done about keeping students safe from school shootings.
Profiling: Balancing security concerns with demonstrating respect and dignity for travelers has been an issue since 9/11. Profiling should/should not be an accepted form of fighting terrorism in airports.
Daylight Savings Time: Many citizens have called for an end to Daylight Savings Time, which began in the United States during World War I, primarily to save fuel by reducing the need to use artificial lighting. Consider a persuasive argument topic for or against Daylight Savings Time.
Texting: The dangers of texting and talking on the phone while driving are well documented. How do we as a society address the use of electronic devices while driving in order to put the brakes on the fatalities that these distractions are causing on the roads? Will regulations interfere with citizens’ individual freedom? Choose a position.
Sexual Predators: In what ways and how should violators be caught and punished if preying on children on the Internet? Do you oppose or support certain forms of censorship to catch or prevent predators preying on children? If you are against regulating the Internet, then in what ways can parents protect their children? (Do not make this an advice article for parents. Write it in the third person, avoiding references to “I” and “You” altogether). Also consider: Should TV shows such as NBC’s “Dateline” series, “To Catch a Predator,” continue bringing attention to the problem of adults sexually preying on youngsters over the Internet?
Foreign Adoption: Over the past decade, the USA has adopted at least 15,000 children internationally each year. Due to less regulation, corruption and human trafficking, there have been considerable problems, and some countries have banned foreign adoption altogether. In addition, many children within the USA are in foster care, so some people want the USA to also ban foreign adoptions. Consider an argument for or against adopting children from foreign countries.