Don't Use Controversial Topics for Your Research Paper

It’s very tempting to want to write a research paper on a very controversial subject. Some students just can’t wait to choose their side of the controversy and jump right into providing the evidence for why they are correct. The downfall with this process is that the writer may be so involved in their passion for one side of the argument that they don’t provide sufficient for or against evidence for both sides.

Another reason to avoid highly controversial topics is that most of them have been done and re-done and re-done and well, you get the picture. Teachers may be tired of reading papers on the same topic over and over again. It’s hard to find a new angle on a topic that’s already been written to death.

    Some examples of controversial topics to avoid


  • Is stem cell research ethical?
  • Should abortion be used for gender selection?
  • Should the justice system use capital punishment?
  • Should animal testing be used for cosmetics?
  • Should genetic cloning be deemed moral and legal?
  • Should excessive plastic surgery for cosmetic purposes be an issue of moral debate?
  • Should everyone have the right to die?

While it’s true you do want to choose an interesting and unique topic for your research paper, it’s important to choose one that’s not too hot of a button. It’s difficult to balance freedom of speech with the desire not to seriously offend anyone. If you choose one side of a controversial topic and your teacher is strongly rooted on the other side, it may inadvertently affect your marks on the paper. This could happen accidentally, as most teachers try to be non-judgmental on the issue itself and only look for the strength of the argument.

Research papers must be backed up by research. When you are deeply embroiled in a topic you can almost become too passionate about it, to the point of losing focus for the research. Any good research paper will equally present both sides to the topic which is difficult to do when the writer is too personally involved in the topic. Controversial topics can also be difficult to narrow down sufficiently. You end up with too much data and the research process drags on for too long. For example, you may be interested in “Gang Violence.” By itself, it’s too broad so you narrow it down to “Causes of Gang Violence”, another broad topic. You could narrow it down even further to “Causes of Gang Violence in the Inner City.”

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