Brainstorming Good Argument Topics for Research Papers

An argumentative essay is one where you are required to develop an argument for or against a given issue. Instructors assign them so that students can show that they comprehend the class material, can take a position based on logical interpretations of the issue under debate, and can support that position with clear evidence. Your main goal will be to convince your audience that you are an expert on the position you’ve taken. 

The Bubble Method

Unlike expository papers where you present information, an argumentative paper has to focus on a given position on an issue. For some students, determining a position is simple as they already know how they feel. For others though, determining a position will mean deeper exploration of the issue. One way to begin is by using the “bubble method.”

Professional writers sometimes use the “bubble method.”

  • Start with an unlined sheet of paper. In the center, write an issue you wish to explore and place a circle around it. This becomes the first bubble.

  • Draw short lines outward from the bubble in the four cardinal directions. At the end of each line, make another bubble.

  • Inside each bubble, place a thought you have about the issue. To help you determine a position, come up with two statements in support of one side of the issue and two statements in support of the other side.

  • Do any of the positions on the paper coincide with your personal thoughts on the issue? If yes, choose the one you feel the strongest about as your position for your paper.

  • If not, continue to explore your ideas by extending bubbles outward, each time breaking the issue into related statements until you’ve reached one that you believe you could successfully defend in your research paper.

  • Do this for each issue you choose to explore; if necessary, quickly research the issue online to help clarify your thoughts.

Your argument and the paper’s objective will suggest what you need to discuss in the main part of the research paper. Once you have your argument, jot down answers to any questions your instructor required you to discuss in your paper. Lastly, include notations for where to find supportive charts and graphs, if this will help make your point. Your research paper should leave your audience with a fresh perspective on the issue, something new for them to consider.