research proposal 24


Research Essay Topic Proposal


Submit your research essay topic as a Word document in which you introduce your topic and what you hope to accomplish through research and writing. Keep in mind this is a proposal, subject to instructor approval, and you will receive feedback regarding your focus.


The basic idea is for you to take on a fresh, contemporary concept. Topics like the ethics surrounding capital punishment and legalized abortion are, of course, vitally important but they (and others like them) have been written about so extensively over the years that it is unlikely you can present a fresh perspective or uncover new research that hasn’t already been considered thoroughly (although I encourage you to explore a new vein of thought if you are able to develop one).


Write a brief synopsis (one to two pages) that (a) introduces your thesis (b) discusses your goals for this essay (c) considers your audience—who the person/group of people is/are whom you will attempt to persuade and why you have chosen this person/group and (d) indicates from where your most useful research is likely to come.


Topic Selection Exercise


When choosing a topic, go with an issue that genuinely interests you. Pick a topic that you really want to get to the heart of or that has questions you’re determined to answer. Try the exercise below to help you pick a topic:


  1. In classes you are taking or have taken recently, quickly list out issues that are interesting to you. Now, for each issue, write a question that seems to get at the heart of the issue.
  2. In your work or profession, quickly list out issues that seem to be going on and are important to the field. Now, for each issue, write a question that seems to get at the heart of the issue.
  3. In your social settings (home, city, state, or other cultural surrounding), list some issues that seem to grasp your attention. Now, for each issue, write a question that seems to probe at the heart of the issue.
  4. Look through your lists and choose one of the issues and questions that you’d like to spend a little more time investigating. Thinking about that issue and question, list out all the information that comes to mind that you know about, that you have some sort of authority on.
  5. Now, list out items about that issue that you don’t know anything about. What kinds of things would you like to find out about it?
  6. For each of the kinds of things you don’t know about the issue, what are 3-4 potential sources of information that would shed some light on them?


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