20 Research Essay Topics That You Can Dig Into

Woot! You’re finally free to choose your own research topic. This calls for celebration!

“Why celebrate?” you ask?

Because you’re no longer under your teacher’s thumb, that’s why. You can pick whatever topic you like, something you actually care about. How cool is that?

So take a few minutes (or longer) to think about issues that engage you or maybe that really grind your gears.  Choose a topic you could see yourself talking about passionately and at length. Write a list of possible places to start.

Does your list look original? If not, throw it away – we’re going to focus on some research essay topics worth talking about.

The Importance of Uniqueness

Undoubtedly, your professor has read a million papers about abortion, legalizing weed, and other politically-polarized topics that have reached stalemates among today’s news outlet pundits. And if your instructor reads one more, she might just rip her hair out.

research essay topics


So let’s take the road less traveled and focus on research essay topics that are more complex. No more beating a dead horse for you. Instead, you’re going to look smart and original.

The important thing is to choose a topic that you can really dig into.

Dig Into?

Yes! Research papers essentially form an argument, so you’ll need good sources to reinforce the claims you’re making about your topic.

research essay topics

To make the research process more fun, once you have your topic, think of yourself as a treasure hunter. The internet will be the high seas (because you’re surfing them, no?), and the websites and databases you comb for information are the treasure islands.

X Marks the Spot

research essay topics


What makes a source good? Validity is everything, and there is a difference in the quality of both popular and scholarly sources out there. You can apply the CRAAP test to help you figure out if your sources meet the criteria.

Find a good website or scholarly article, and you’ve struck gold.

Where to Start

Most great research papers evolve from great questions. You can start out with a broad idea, such as “student loans,” but then you’ll want to narrow it down into a question:

“What are the problems with student loan interest? Why, and what do I have to say about it?”

This should lead you towards a claim: “Student loan interest should be reduced.” After you brainstorm and gather more information on your topic, you can refine this claim into a thesis: “Because of x, y, and z, student loan interest should be reduced, and this can be effectively and feasibly accomplished by x, y, and z.”

Notice that as you make progress, your approach becomes more complex and specific. You usually start out broadly, but as you gather information, you also start creating an argument. You can best support your position by focusing on one main area within your topic.

Sound Familiar?

It should. Typically, a research essay is also an argumentative essay. As your question turns into a claim and then a thesis, you’ll spend most of your essay arguing your position.

You’ll use the sources you research to support that thesis and develop a strong argument.

Enough Talk – On to the List

research essay topics


Following are 20 research topics that can help you start exploring new areas to create a well-supported paper. I’ve also included links to example research papers that broach similar topics.

Technology Research Essay Topics

  1. Why is net neutrality essential to free speech? (Read how this essay explores freedom of speech online.)
  1. Can video games be considered an art form like film? Why or why not? What criteria could you come up with to support your argument? (Check out this example essay on the evolution of video games.)
  1. Think about Facebook or Apple and the role of privacy in the internet age. (Check out this example essay on social media and privacy.)                                                       
  2. Will technological medical advances, such as cochlear implants or prosthetics, widen the gap in class disparity? (Read about the influence of industrialization on health care.)
  1. What are the benefits of space exploration? (Check out this essay arguing in favor of continuing space exploration.)                                                                      

Education Research Essay Topics

  1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of online learning? Is it superior to traditional learning or not? (Read this essay touting the benefits of online education.)
  1. Should disability service learning be integrated with standard education programs? (Look at this essay about disability services in Kosovo.)
  1. What role does media (interactive learning, television, computers, games) play in current education, and is it more effective than traditional methods? (Read this essay on multimedia interactive learning.)
  1. Should higher education be free? Why or why not and how would such a system be feasible? (Check out this essay on why free education may not be feasible.)
  1. What will the fate of the library be in the near future, and why is this important for all levels of learning and free public access to information? (Look at this essay about the benefits of digital libraries.)                                                                                      

Business/Economy Research Essay Topics

  1. Argue for the benefits or problems within privatized vs. public industries (Prisons, Schools, Military, Welfare, etc.) (Check out this essay on the constitutionality of private prisons.)
  1. Are the methods that insurance companies use to determine risk fair? (Read this example essay on insurance risk assessment.)
  1. How does globalization affect a country’s domestic economy? (Here’s a sample research paper on globalization.)
  1. What income inequalities do you see between employees of various corporations? Why and how should this be fixed? (Learn more in this example essay on income inequality.)
  1. Is the current minimum wage demand ($15 an hour) feasible on a national scale? Why or why not? Are there any alternative numbers or solutions to this issue? (Read this essay on minimum wage requirements.)                                             

Literature Research Essay Topics

  1. Take a film adaptation (Romeo + Juliet, Apocalypse Now, The Lion King) and analyze how well it updates the context into a modern interpretation of the original work it was based on (Romeo and Juliet, Heart of Darkness, Hamlet(Check out this analysis of the Romeo and Juliet film adaptation.)
  1. Think of a dystopian novel – Brave New World, The Handmaid’s Tale, Nineteen Eighty-Four, etc. – and discuss the intentional or subverted gender roles and how the author portrays them. (Not quite a dystopian novel, but here’s an essay discussing gender roles in Aliens).
  1. Are graphic novels and comics literature, art, or both? Why or why not and how do you support this? (Here’s an interesting essay comparing Japanese and Western comics.)
  1. How can certain forms of genre fiction (horror, fantasy, sci-fi, etc.) be considered literary, and where do they cross the line of “genre” and “literature”? Or do they? Why or why not? (Check out this exploration of the horror genre.)
  1. What major themes in Of Mice and Men make it a canonical work of literature? You can use this approach for a myriad of novels. (Here is an analysis of honor in Of Mice and Men.)                                                                                                                      

What now?

research essay topics

You have your topic, and it’s time to apply the research methods above. You can use Google or your university library’s scholarly databases to start your path to a well-supported essay. Don’t miss these  other useful scholarly research engines to further help you get started.

Goals: A Recap

Let’s break it down.

The research process should include the following:

  •         Be original.
  •         Find an issue that interests you.
  •         Brainstorm a list of possible topics.
  •         Start broadly; then narrow your focus.
  •         Ask questions.
  •         Think of possible solutions.
  •         Be specific.
  •         Make a claim – develop this into your thesis.
  •         Use the internet and your school’s databases to find quality sources.
  •         Apply the CRAAP test to make sure your sources are valid.
  •         Get off your duff, and write your paper.

You’re well on your way to drafting a great research paper. Our editor team at Kibin is ready to help you polish up that essay into a shiny final draft.


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