Critical Thinking Topics For Debate Papers

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Genre and the Research Paper

Summary:

This handout provides detailed information about how to write research papers including discussing research papers as a genre, choosing topics, and finding sources.

Contributors: Jack Raymond Baker, Allen Brizee, Ashley Velázquez
Last Edited: 2011-03-30 09:06:38

Research: What it is.

A research paper is the culmination and final product of an involved process of research, critical thinking, source evaluation, organization, and composition. It is, perhaps, helpful to think of the research paper as a living thing, which grows and changes as the student explores, interprets, and evaluates sources related to a specific topic. Primary and secondary sources are the heart of a research paper, and provide its nourishment; without the support of and interaction with these sources, the research paper would morph into a different genre of writing (e.g., an encyclopedic article). The research paper serves not only to further the field in which it is written, but also to provide the student with an exceptional opportunity to increase her knowledge in that field. It is also possible to identify a research paper by what it is not.

Research: What it is not.

A research paper is not simply an informed summary of a topic by means of primary and secondary sources. It is neither a book report nor an opinion piece nor an expository essay consisting solely of one's interpretation of a text nor an overview of a particular topic. Instead, it is a genre that requires one to spend time investigating and evaluating sources with the intent to offer interpretations of the texts, and not unconscious regurgitations of those sources. The goal of a research paper is not to inform the reader what others have to say about a topic, but to draw on what others have to say about a topic and engage the sources in order to thoughtfully offer a unique perspective on the issue at hand. This is accomplished through two major types of research papers.

Two major types of research papers.

Argumentative research paper:

The argumentative research paper consists of an introduction in which the writer clearly introduces the topic and informs his audience exactly which stance he intends to take; this stance is often identified as the thesis statement. An important goal of the argumentative research paper is persuasion, which means the topic chosen should be debatable or controversial. For example, it would be difficult for a student to successfully argue in favor of the following stance.

Cigarette smoking poses medical dangers and may lead to cancer for both the smoker and those who experience secondhand smoke.

Perhaps 25 years ago this topic would have been debatable; however, today, it is assumed that smoking cigarettes is, indeed, harmful to one's health. A better thesis would be the following.

Although it has been proven that cigarette smoking may lead to sundry health problems in the smoker, the social acceptance of smoking in public places demonstrates that many still do not consider secondhand smoke as dangerous to one's health as firsthand smoke.

In this sentence, the writer is not challenging the current accepted stance that both firsthand and secondhand cigarette smoke is dangerous; rather, she is positing that the social acceptance of the latter over the former is indicative of a cultural double-standard of sorts. The student would support this thesis throughout her paper by means of both primary and secondary sources, with the intent to persuade her audience that her particular interpretation of the situation is viable.

Analytical research paper:

The analytical research paper often begins with the student asking a question (a.k.a. a research question) on which he has taken no stance. Such a paper is often an exercise in exploration and evaluation. For example, perhaps one is interested in the Old English poem Beowulf. He has read the poem intently and desires to offer a fresh reading of the poem to the academic community. His question may be as follows.

How should one interpret the poem Beowulf?

His research may lead him to the following conclusion.

Beowulf is a poem whose purpose it was to serve as an exemplum of heterodoxy for tenth- and eleventh-century monastic communities.

Though his topic may be debatable and controversial, it is not the student's intent to persuade the audience that his ideas are right while those of others are wrong. Instead, his goal is to offer a critical interpretation of primary and secondary sources throughout the paper--sources that should, ultimately, buttress his particular analysis of the topic. The following is an example of what his thesis statement may look like once he has completed his research.

Though Beowulf is often read as a poem that recounts the heroism and supernatural exploits of the protagonist Beowulf, it may also be read as a poem that served as an exemplum of heterodoxy for tenth- and eleventh-century monastic communities found in the Danelaw.

This statement does not negate the traditional readings of Beowulf; instead, it offers a fresh and detailed reading of the poem that will be supported by the student's research.

It is typically not until the student has begun the writing process that his thesis statement begins to take solid form. In fact, the thesis statement in an analytical paper is often more fluid than the thesis in an argumentative paper. Such is one of the benefits of approaching the topic without a predetermined stance.

Critical thinking essay is vital assignment of a student’s academic career. Unlike traditional essays, critical thinking essays require more effort. These essays demand writers to use a critical thinking approach to address the topic under consideration. The writer must delve deeper into the topic, identifying strengths and weaknesses and substantiating the essay with findings based on one’s critical thinking. You cannot just state your opinion but rather need to explain why you have that opinion in the first place. The better your critical thinking skills, the stronger will be the impact of your essay.

The importance of choosing the right topic

As the famous quote states, “Well begun is half done.” If you can start your critical thinking essay with the right subject, it will make it easier for you to write the critical thinking essay. Make sure that you are aware of the kind of topics that your instructor wants you to address. Were there any specific guidelines? Did the instructor give you any tips or suggestions? Referring to your essay guidelines will ensure that you are aware of the essentials and won’t be wasting your time in fixing your essay later on. You also want to choose a topic based on your target audience. Ensure that you are aware of the likes and dislikes of your target audience so that your topic can make an impact. If you choose a topic that the reader has no interest in whatsoever, it is unlikely that they will get anything positive out of it.

You should also choose a topic that interests you. Critical thinking essays demand a deep thought process and its effectiveness can be determined by your passion towards the topic. If you’re not going to enjoy writing about it, you won’t be able to make an impact with your writing and critical thinking skills. Therefore, be very careful with the topic that you pick. You could ask your instructor for suggestions and then choose the topic that interests you. Not only will it speed up your decision-making process, but you’ll also have peace of mind that your instructor will enjoy reading your critical thinking essay. 

Some great critical thinking topics for you!

Choosing the topic for your critical thinking essay is the hardest part. However, once you’ve decided your topic, you can then jump right into conducting your research. Here are some great topics for you to choose from. Not only are these topics fairly simple to write on, but they are also backed with enough research to help you complete your critical thinking essay.

Don’t forget to check out the ultimate guide to critical thinking essays that will help you on your essay writing journey.

How effective are psychological tests?

This is an interesting topic to write on and will allow you to give your take the effectiveness of psychological tests. These tests play a crucial role in our lives, trying to help countless families in better managing their loved ones that suffer from mental illnesses.Do these tests work? How accurate are the results? You can search for infographics and use them to support your opinion. If you have friend or family member who suffers from a mental illness, this topic will keep you interested.

Is homeschooling or regular schooling more effective?

Homeschooling is a progressive moment that is becoming more popular by the day. Through your critical thinking essay, you can explain why parents consider homeschooling and why or why not it proved to be effective. You could also compare it to regular schooling and explain how it varies. Your essay must explain the method of schooling that is better and have enough evidence and research to support it.

What role does the media play in tearing down moral values?

The media, in particular, social media is taking the world by storm. What effect does it have on moral values? How is it affecting people around the world? What role do celebrities play and how do they shape the values of youngsters today?There is so much that you can write about. This topic is a great one to choose since you’ll learn so much along the way and it will prove to be an eye-opener for both you and the reader.

Should drugs be legalized?

The legalization of drugs is a controversial topic and has been around for quite some time now. You can easily attempt this topic since there is plenty of information available on the internet. What is your opinion on the legalization of drugs? Why do you think they should or should not be legalized? Can you convince your reader to form a judgment based on yours? Don’t forget to include infographics and interesting statistics that will help strengthen your essay.

How does the education system in other countries compare to that of the United States?

Educational concerns make great topics for critical thinking essays. The academic world is revolutionizing by the day and institutions around the world are effectively improving the manner by which students complete their education. For this topic, you must study the education system of the United States so that you have a clear insight on it. You can then compare it to the education system in other countries. This essay needs to be a very informative one, providing carefully extracted statistics from reliable information sources. You could mention the education systems that are better than others and explain what makes them more effective. This topic has a large scope, and you’ll have no trouble researching information.

Have humans become too dependent on technology?

This topic is a fun critical thinking essay topic, and you’ll enjoy doing your research for this. We already know what the answer is since humans rely on technology more than ever before. However, how is technology affecting people around the world?Is it proving to make our lives more convenient or is it making us lazier by the day? What effect does it have on our day to day lives and careers? You won’t even need to spend much time with your research since you’ll already be quite informed.

These topics prove to be great attention-grabbers. You could also make your topics that are along the same lines. Remember; choose a topic that interests you and you’ll be completing your essay faster than you thought possible!


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