Academic Writing AdviceAcademic, Writing, Advice
ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated
2017

55 Research Paper Topics to Jumpstart Your Writing


The research paper is one of the most tried and true assignments in high school or college. It's your teacher's opportunity to see how well you can research, convey, and organize that research, and assemble everything into one five-paragraph (or maybe 15-page) paper.

Before you get started on your paper, you'll need to have a comprehensive understanding of what your teacher expects out of your completed assignment, as well as a really great topic that you can spend a lot of time researching. However, with several classes filled with many students, your teachers have likely seen the same topics over and over (and over) again. Here are some research paper topics that are guaranteed to keep your interest (and theirs). Borrow one of these ideas or get inspiration from this list, which is broken down by subject category.

Social issues research paper topics

Social issues are always going to exist, unfortunately. But the more we learn about what they are, how we can solve them, and how to prevent them, the better off we'll be. Here are a few social issues topics to think about and to do research on.

  1. Many children are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD and are subsequently put on medication, but some advocate that children are overly medicated and that we should instead have more patience for those who can't sit still or have minor behavioral issues. How should this issue be approached?
  2. The homeless population in the United States is more than 1.5 million people. What are the conditions that lead to someone's being homeless? Are there ways to combat it?
  3. Girls who have been in the foster care system are more likely to be human trafficked. Why is this? What can be done?
  4. Someone who grows up in poverty is more likely to live in poverty all their life. Why is that? How can someone escape poverty?
  5. Opioid addiction is a huge issue in the United States right now. What led to the widespread abuse of opioid drugs? What is being done to solve this problem?
  6. Sexual assault is a hot button issue on college campuses. How widespread is sexual assault on college campuses and what is being done to stop it?
  7. Each year, 1.2 million students drop out of high school. What is causing them to drop out? What can be done to combat the dropout rate?
  8. Many terminally-ill patients in America are advocating for assisted suicide. What countries already allow this, and what are the pros and the cons?
  9. Performance artists in public places such as beach boardwalks have their activities regulated by some local governments. Why is this? What are the pros and the cons?
  10. TV shows such as "Hoarders" have shed light on people who collect tremendous amounts of items, trash, and/or animals in their house. How are these people being helped? What causes hoarding problems?

Political research paper topics

The events in politics may always be changing, but the nature of politics remains the same. There's always a lot to discuss and a lot to learn, making for a very interesting research topic for your paper. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking.

  1. North Korea has recently ramped up its nuclear program. What are some ramifications of this?
  2. There has been a large political divide in the country for the past few years. What factors led to the large division?
  3. What is the AHCA? How is it different from the ACA?
  4. The U.S. recently pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement. What is the Paris Climate Agreement and what is America's history of involvement with it?
  5. Confederate monuments are being torn down after the events in Charlottesville. Write about the history of one confederate monument that's been torn down. When was it built? What were the circumstances of it being constructed?
  6. Some feel that religious liberties have been threatened in the United States for several years. Why do they feel this way? What is the history of religious liberties in this country?
  7. Much of the news in the last couple of years has been the rise of populism. What is the definition of populism? How does it affect the political climate?
  8. Many parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children because they have read that there is a link between vaccines and autism. Should parents have to vaccinate their children to guarantee herd immunity for all children? Even though the evidence points out that vaccines do not cause autism, why do parents still insist? How have certain celebrities contributed to this issue by being vocal on this topic?
  9. Many people in "Middle America" don't feel that their viewpoints are adequately expressed in the national media. Why do they feel this way? How does this affect national discourse?

Historical research paper topics

Many of us learn a lot about the Revolutionary War or the Civil War in our classrooms, but often there's not enough time to explore everything that you might be interested in. Here are a few off-the-beaten-path research paper topics that will be sure to capture your attention as well as your instructor's.

  1. What caused the market crash of 2008? How are we still recovering?
  2. There were several all black towns in the United States in the early 20th century. What led to the establishment of these cities?
  3. Who were the Freedom Riders?
  4. What were the Tulsa Race Riots?
  5. What was Female Hysteria in the Victorian era?
  6. There are a lot of conspiracy theories surrounding Kennedy's assassination. Research about one in depth and discuss how the theory came about.
  7. What was the Korean War over? How does it affect society today?
  8. What was the Vietnam War over? How does it affect society today?
  9. What was the Space Race? Who were the major players and why did it matter so much who got to the moon first?
  10. Why did a lot of protesters and "hippies" gather at Haight-Ashbury in the 1960s? Write about the history of this notable neighborhood in San Francisco.
  11. What were Jim Crow laws? How do they still affect society today?
  12. When was Affirmative Action enacted? How does it still affect society today?
  13. What was the Reconstructive era? How does it still affect the South today?
  14. What was Watergate? Who were the major players and what was the result? How did it affect the country?
  15. What was the Equal Rights Amendment? Why was it not ratified?
  16. What was Prohibition? What were the circumstances and why did it finally end?
  17. Who was the first woman to hold political office in the United States?
  18. Eleanor Roosevelt was a very notable First Lady. Who was she and why was she so important?
  19. What was the case Loving v. Virginia? Who did it involve and what was it about?

Environmental research paper topics

There are many things to learn and research on about the world around us. Whether it's how we can combat climate change or research alternative fuels, it's important to know the answers for a healthy global environment for our future children and grandchildren. Here are a few ideas for environmental research paper topics.

  1. What is global warming? What can we do to minimize the effects of it?
  2. Some people say that certain global warming studies are funded by industries that have a vested interest in the issue, such as solar energy companies. How are they funded and conducted? Should the research be conducted by impartial parties?
  3. The polar ice caps are melting. What does this mean for our environment?
  4. There are many endangered species throughout the world. Pick one to write about and write about conservation efforts being made.
  5. What are alternative fuels? Should we use them or not? Write about the pros and the cons.
  6. What are some ways you could individually reduce your carbon footprint?
  7. What countries are leading the globe on combating climate change? What steps are they taking to lead the way?
  8. What is deforestation and how does it affect the environment?
  9. Many coral reefs are disappearing. Why is that and what kind of actions are scientists taking?
  10. What are sinkholes? Why do they occur?

Film, literature, and art research paper topics

Film, literature, and art are part of what defines a culture. It's not surprising then that there is much to explore when you are thinking about these topics. Here are a few interesting paper topics that pertain to film, literature, and art.

  1. Look at a list of classic films. Pick one and write about why it was so influential.
  2. In the year 2017 it's still quite rare to find a female film director. Pick a favorite female film director and discuss what unique perspectives she adds to film and culture.
  3. There's more of a push to ignore the traditional "canon" of literature because it features a lot of white, male writers. What do this mean and what do you think of it?
  4. Female artists are highly underrepresented in art museums throughout the world. Is it just that there aren't many female artists traditionally? What are some efforts being made to include more female artists?
  5. Some people feel that Hollywood is hypocritical in embracing director Roman Polanski. What makes them feel this way? What events made him a controversial figure?
  6. Read a banned book and research on why the book was banned. What were the circumstances?
  7. They say poetry is a dying art. What do you think? Is poetry still alive and well?

After you've chosen a topic, be sure to get a second opinion

Choosing an interesting research paper topic is often half the battle. Once you get a topic nailed down that you're really fascinated by, it's a lot easier to research and write about it.

After you've written all of the content of your research paper, it's always important to get someone to look over your paper and ensure that it's error-free and makes sense to the reader. If you have any questions, be sure to reach out to your instructor or a parent for advice. Finally, if you want to ensure that your paper doesn't contain any spelling or grammar mistakes, you should consider hiring a professional editor such as one from ServiceScape to take a look at your paper. A professional can help you spot an error that you may have missed and help you achieve clean, easy-to-read copy that is guaranteed to impress.

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