Planning Your Researched
Choosing a Topic
• Avoid hot-button issues:
– Abortion, immigration, same-sex marriage
• Avoid tired topics:
– Violence in video games, Marijuana legalization,
Animal experimentation
• Choose something local?
– Feral cats on campus? Astrodome? Football
conference restructuring? Tuition increases?
• Choose something timely?
– Texting while driving, avoiding government
shutdowns, payments to travelers stuck on tarmac
Choosing a Topic
• Choose a topic a reasonable person might argue
• Choose a topic that has several different lines of
• Choose something from your major?
• Choose some aspect of your literature review to
argue? (Remember, you must write something
• Choose something that’s NOT personal.
Sample Argumentative Topics
Texting while driving should be illegal. (Who
would enforce? Punishment?)
Zoos are internment camps for animals and
should be shut down.
People who contribute to Social Security should
have the right to choose how their money is
College athletes should be exempted from
regular class-attendance policies.
To encourage healthy eating, higher taxes
should be imposed on soft drinks and junk food.
Financial incentives should be offered to high
school students who perform well on
standardized tests.
Are cell phones dangerous?
Are school uniforms a good or bad idea?
Should elderly drivers be required to retake the
drivers test after a certain age to ensure they
are still in good condition to drive! If so, at what
What role, if any, should the federal government
take in dealing with the problem of
Should high schools handout condoms to their
students to prevent teen pregnancy and STDs?
Is hunting good for the environment?
Will a border fence solve the immigration
problem? Should the U.S. create a visitor work
program? ( A better way to address
Should parents limit the use of social media by
Are beauty contests a good thing for young
Should schools continue to spend money on fine
arts? Should college courses prepare students to
enter the workforce?
A student organization should be formed to
rescue and care for the feral cats on campus.
Professional baseball players convicted of using
performance-enhancing drugs should not be
considered for induction into the Hall of Fame.
Is the death penalty an effective deterrent of
Do colleges put too much stock in standardized
test scores?
Should men get paternity leave from work?
Should women get more than six weeks?
Is Drone warfare ethical?
First Sub-Point
Second Sub-Point
Third Sub-Point
Refute Counterargument
Spanking damages a child’s self esteem, his ability to socialize with his peers, and
may cause him to become more aggressive.
Damages a Child’s Self Esteem
Damages a Child’s Ability to Socialize with His Peers
May Cause Increased Aggression
Some say mild physical punishments can decrease delinquent behavior in at-risk
All physical punishments, including mild ones, are detrimental to children.
Parents who spank should become educated about the negative effects of
spanking and should see professional counseling.
Ethos, Pathos, Logos
• Ethos: credentials of your experts (not you!)
– Leave yourself out of it!
• Pathos: use a personal story (but not your
– Case study, a less-academic source?
– A realistic hypothetical situation?
– Give a face to the issue
• Logos: show how history is on your side, give
statistics, trends, explain research and studies
• You may choose ONE non-academic source to
support your claims. (Pathos?)
• This source must still come from a credited
news outlet. NOT someone’s random blog.
• The remainder of your sources must come
from the library databases. Try:
– Academic Search Complete
– First Search
– Project Muse
Next Time
• Come to class next week with your narrowed
topic, two or three sub-points, and your

Slide 1 - Lauri Anderson Alford