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Argument: General Resesarch Guide: Welcome

Here is help with research for argument and expository papers for any introductory English, writing, or communications course, including Engl1101 and Comm1201.


A whole universe of information

This guide offers helpful links and advice for researching and writing an informative, argument, or scripted (multi question) written project for introductory English or communications courses, such as English 1101 at Perimeter College of Georgia State University. It can help you:

This guide also features information on:

  • Information on choosing quality web sites
  • Help with your works cited.

Choosing a Topic

Choosing a Topic

One of the hardest parts of writing a paper is choosing a topic. For an argument/expository paper, you need to choose a topic that has at least two sides about which reasonable people can disagree. A paper on the "evils of drunk driving" will bore both you and your professor. A paper on the psychological effects of abortion, by contrast, covers a hotly debated topic and will work if your professor permits you to research it.

Sometimes faculty ask that you use a topic from a presselected list. This works well if one of the topics genuinely interests you. In addition, even some professors who have a topic list, allow you to suggest your own topics.

Other times, you are completely on your own, usually within a broad set of guidelines. Current events, public policy, medical, and science topics are all difficult to frame if you are either not that interested in them or are not following the news regularly.

Fortunately, there are both books and web sites that list topics in a vast, variety of subject areas.


Lamb, Catherine. 10,000 Ideas for Term Papers, Projects, Reports, and Speeches. Lawrenceville, NJ: Arco, 1998 CALL NUMBER: LB1047.3 .L35 1998 Clarkston Ready Reference
This book lists paper topics by fairly broad subject area. Not all topics are detailed enough for college level work. Some require you to narrow them down. It is also up to you to choose appropriate articles for argument papers. Note: 10,000 Ideas is now more than ten years old. While some of its topics need a bit of an update, many paper topics are perennial problems, so the book's age is not a particularly large issue.

The Topic Tree
This growing LibGuide offers an ever expanding list of fairly current topics sorted by subject area. Many of the topics are extremely detailed and some require a bit of expertise. Please choose wisely.

10,000 Ideas


Another way to select topics is to read whatever articles appeal to you in either print or online publications. This method, while indirect, has the added bonus in yielding your first article when you find your topic. The drawback to this sort of topic search is that it takes time and can feel directionless. If you would like to search for your topic, by reading articles, here are some good places to start:

The New York Times The New York Times
This is the newspaper of record for the United States. It's web site offers all the articles from the past thirty days' print version plus blogs created by the paper's columnists. The Times covers pretty much any and all newsworthy subjects including: news, lifestyle, fashion, entertainment, science, medicine, and sports. Note: the New York Times has a paywall so that only the first ten articles or interactive features are free each month.

After you use up your ten articles, you can still read the New York Times with LexisNexis. Here is how to read the Times on LexisNexis Step by Step.

The Atlantic The Atlantic
For over a hundred years, The Atlantic has been a magazine of ideas, with long, meaty articles. The web site adds shorter pieces and blogs by Atlantic authors as well. To access, the longer articles, click on the magazine cover in the bottom right corner of the window.

The Wall Street Journal The Wall Street Journal
Though it is one of the best places to go for economic and financial topics, The Wall Stret Journal offers more than business and investment information. It also covers international events, and lifestyle issues from the view point of the well off.Note: some articles are behind a paywall, but most are freely available.