How to Write a Paper
Essay and Speech Topics/Ideas
Help on Writing an Essay
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I do not know of many students who want to write a research paper (essay) or give a speech. I know that I didn't. However, when the teacher gives you the news that you must write a research paper or give a speech on some subject, the first concern is trying to figure out what to use as a topic. The following list represents some of the more popular subjects (topics) for writing a paper or giving a speech. Some of these topics are good for "informative" papers and speeches. You just have to present some kind of report on the subject. However, some of these are very good for those times when you have to take a side on a particular issue. You need to present either the PRO or the CON side. Yes, some of these topics are GREAT for the argumentative/persuasive paper or speech because you can find a lot of information for both sides of the argument. Just some of the "easy" topics are adoption, animal rights, assisted suicide, capital punishment, censorship, cloning (stem cells), global warming, gun control, home schooling, prisons, school uniforms, smoking in public places, and the effects of video games.
Following are some websites that will list topics (ideas) and provide resources of support for those topics to help make it easier for you to write your paper/essay, or present that speech.
The College and Career Library's List of Topics provides a list of popular topics for writing a research paper or presenting a speech. If you are looking for speech or essay topics and ideas, then please visit this website.
The College and Career Library's Researched Topics provides information and resources such as books; magazine, newspaper, and journal articles; government documents, and websites to help you write papers, essays, and present speeches on popular topics such as capital punishment, cyberbullying, global warming, homeschooling, school uniforms, and more. Included for different topics are examples of thesis statements, outlines, statistics, and summaries of the issues.
St. Ambrose University has created a web page titled "Hot Topics Guide" formerly known as "Best Information on the Net." You will see a list of some popular subjects that students choose for their research paper or speech topic. Each main subject link takes you to resources about that subject. Many of the links take you to online sources that you can access quickly and conveniently.
ProCon.org will give the Pros and Cons on controversial issues. There is plenty of information here, including links to MORE information.
IDEA: International Debate Education Association will provide a few ways to search for information. The pros and cons for different topics are given, along with links to more information.
How to Write the Five-Paragraph Essay : We are more familiar with writing the traditional long major research paper. However, a number of teachers are introducing students to writing by having them write a "Five-Paragraph Essay." Please visit "How to Write the Five-Paragraph Essay" for more information on what the Five-Paragraph Essay is all about. Examples / samples of five-paragraph essays are provided for instructional purposes. Examples include the thesis statement, body of the essay, and conclusion.
The VERY Basics on How to Write a Research Paper : It can be frustrating and scary if you have never written a research paper (essay), or it has been a long time since you did this kind of thing. There are entire books on how to write an informative, persuasive (argumentative) research paper, or essay. There are semester-long courses that teach you how to write a research paper, essay, or give a speech. The goal of this web page is NOT to write a book on this subject. However, this web page will give you an idea of what is expected of you, by many teachers, when trying to write a research paper. Thesis statements and conclusions are just some of the main concepts covered.
I know that many people feel that about anything can be found on the Internet. However, there are some very good, very helpful resources that are still in book form. Some of the following resources have been converted to electronic form where libraries can subscribe to the electronic equivalent of the books. These fee-based systems can be expensive which is why many libraries can afford the books, but not the computer databases that contain the information in the books.
Here are some series of books that will give the pros and cons on many, many different issues. "At Issue", "Contemporary Issues", "Current Controversies", "Information Plus", "Opposing Viewpoints", "Reference Shelf", and "Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues" are names of series' of books. Each of these "series" will have individual books, about 100-pages in length, that will give information on the pro side of the issue and information on the con side of the issue. It is hard to say that any of the these series is more popular than the other, but I think that more people are familiar with the "Opposing Viewpoint" books.
These books tend to be available in LIBRARIES rather than traditional bookstores. However, big online bookstores like Amazon have these books. The search strategy is to search for books with the keywords within the title that you want, such as:
Adoption opposing viewpoints
Capital Punishment opposing viewpoints
Many libraries purchase the annual compilation of CQ Researcher. This amounts to be a very thick book that contains, approximately, 20-page articles giving the pros and cons of controversial topics. It works out well because many students can find just about all they need to know about a subject in about 20 pages. Once you now the pros and cons, more information can be found elsewhere, like in magazines and journals. The writing process can get a little easier once you understand the issues with a topic. Resources such as CQ Researcher and Opposing Viewpoints can help.
Fee-Based Databases (Computers)
As I mentioned above for Opposing Viewpoints, some companies put books such as Opposing Viewpoints on a computer database and sell a subscription to that computer database to libraries. Patrons of libraries that subscribe to this type of database can access this source at the library or from their home (by using the library's passwords). Issues and Controversies is another similar database that will give people the pros and cons of different issues in just about TEN pages. This is very appealing because in just TEN pages, you know the pros and cons of an issue and how to argue either side of the issue. Issues and Controversies can save you A LOT of time and effort.
Fee-Based Databases (Computers) for Magazines and Journal Articles
The Internet is a good source for a lot of information, but not everything is free. Some very good information can be found in magazines, journals, and newspapers that require you to pay a fee for the article. Many libraries subscribe to services such as EBSCO, InfoTrac, and ProQuest. Basically, these fee-based computers (databases) contain full-text (entire article) of many articles covering a wide variety of subjects. If you want a magazine article, newspaper article, or peer-reviewed scholarly journal article on a specific topic, then the EASIEST way to obtain the article is through one of these databases located AT a LIBRARY. Usually, the article is free for the patron but the patron may have to pay a small fee for printer paper. Usually, the price is similar to copying an article from a magazine in print, using a regular copier.
IF you find an article that is NOT full-text, but you still want the entire article, then you can ask the library staff if they can interlibrary loan the article for you. Most libraries have an interlibrary loan service where the library can try to loan the book or article from another library, FOR FREE.
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