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ENG 111 - Writing and Inquiry: Find a Persuasive Topic

This course is designed to develop the ability to produce clear writing in a variety of genres and formats using a recursive process. Emphasis includes inquiry, analysis, effective use of rhetorical strategies, thesis development, audience awareness, and

Being Part of a Persuasive Conversation

Choosing a persuasive topic for a college class isn't as easy as it sounds. For starters, you need to find something that can be argued or persuaded. Some topics just can't be argued. Another problem students have is finding the topics that can be researched.

People with conversation bubbles

It's very important that you find topics that will allow you to demonstrate good writing and research techniques. Think of it, you are creating a product that's never been created before. You are becoming part of an argument with how you use your sources to persuade or convince your audience. In order to 1) use sources, 2) have the correct amount of content (not too little and not too much), and 3) meet the instructor's directions, you must pick a topic very carefully.


Hot Topics Research Guides from RCCC

Academic Searching vs. Personal Research

We all have our interests and do some sort of research, whether it be Google Searching or just discussing interests with friends, but how do we take it to the academic standard that your instructors expect in college?

Personal Searching: Social media, Wikis, Quora, eHow, Reddit, friends/peers

Academic Searching: Library Databases, .gov, .org, Any source with authority, experts/authorities, no Wikipedia, no Social Media unless you can trace the origins of the story to a reputable souce

No Wikipedia

Some questions to help determine if a research question is appropriate for academic research:

• Can the question be answered yes or no?

• Can the question be answered in one sentence or a single paragraph?

• Have entire books been written to answer this question?

• Would answering this question help someone else who has an interest in this topic?

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Your Turn. What are you interested in?

Examples of questions for persuasive papers:

  • Education: Schools shouldshould not have programs, including busing, to make their schools more diverse.
  • Race: Race should/should not not be criteria on college applications.
  • Health: Vending machines with soft drinks or candy should/should not be removed from college campuses.
  • Technology: Children should/should not have access to iPads/computers/other mobile devices until they are in middle/high school
  • Social media should monitor speech on their sites more carefully.
  • Animals: Animals should/should not be used in medical testing.
  • Politics: The electoral colldege should/should not be abolished
  • Science: Pesticide use should be limited.


Exercise - Comparison

Compare the rhetoric from different sites to see how the writers affect you emotionally. A good persuasive topic should stand on its facts without a lot of help from emotion.

SIRS Issues Researcher

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Use the CRAP Test

It is challenging to determine whether information from the Web is credible and can be trusted. Is it factual? Biased? Relevant to your topic?

Here is a handy acronym to help you determine if a source may be CRAP.



  • CURRENCY How recently was this information published/posted? Can you find a publication date?
  • RELIABILITYIs the information supported by evidence? Can it be confirmed by other sources?
  • AUTHORITYWho wrote the information - are they an expert or knowledgeable in their field? (i.e. For health information, did a doctor or nurse write it?)
  • PURPOSE / POINT OF VIEWWhy was it written? To sell something? To sway opinion? Is it biased toward a particular point of view?

Media Bias Chart

Media Bias Chart