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ESL 91 - Controversial: Selecting a Topic

This guide serves as a tool for students who will be writing research papers in their ESL 91 class.

Topic Ideas

How do I get Ideas for a Research Topic?

Check out our database Opposing Viewpoints to brainstorm for controversial issues. Click Browse Reports and select your topic from the list. Opposing Viewpoints In Context provides information on controversial issues in society. In this database you will find viewpoint articles, topic overviews, statistics, biographies, primary documents, academic journal articles newspaper and magazine articles. Use the viewpoint articles to help you form an argument for your controversial issue paper!

Other databases that will help you to select a topic:



You could write thousands of pages on global warming, but narrowing your focus to the impact of rising sea levels on coastal wetlands will give you a manageable topic and a clear purpose.


How do I narrow my topic?

When analyzing your topic, ask: who, what, where, when, why and how?

  • Who are the significant players? Who was impacted?
  • What are the components or aspects of the topic will you explore?
  • Where does your event take place? What locations are impacted by your topic?
  • When did the event occur and/or what is the significance of the time period on your event?
  • Why does this topic matter?
  • How does this topic impact society?