100 Technology Topics for Research Papers
Every year, technological devices become faster, smaller, and smarter. Your cell phone holds more information than the room-sized computers that sent a man to the moon. In my essay Can Today's College Students Solve World Problems?, I talk about how advances like the green revolution and more fuel-efficient cars solved many of the problems that I worried about as college freshman in 1979. Yet these new solutions also cause new problems, like how the gasoline engine made travel faster and easier but also raised concerns about air pollution and global warming.
Below, you will find many questions, ideas, links, research, and videos to get you started on your research essay and ideas for how to write about technology from different perspectives, including:
- How to Write a Technology Research Paper
- General Topics (a list of questions to get you started)
- Reproduction (including egg and sperm donation and in vitro technologies)
- Our Bodies (including organ and animal transplants and innovations in surgery technologies)
- Human Cloning Topics (including genetic engineering)
- Identity (questions about how technologies influence our identities)
- Relationships (how texting, cell phones, and social media affect relationships)
- The Military
- Information Technology and Storage
- Five Kinds of Arguable Claims
Researching technology can involve looking at how it solves problems, creates new problems, and how interaction with technology has changed humankind.
Steps in Researching
- Understand your Research Assignment: What kind of a research paper has your instructor assigned? Re-read your assignment sheet and any information in the textbook. For example, I ask my students to choose a technology topic for a Summary, Analysis, and Response essay which asks them to research three or more perspectives on an issue.
- Find a Topic Idea: Look over the six technology research topic list categories and scan the different arguable questions. For an Exploratory paper, you will need a topic which has three or more perspectives to explore. If you are doing a Position, Argument, or a Cause paper, you will need to know the different perspectives, but you will use your answer to the question as your thesis statement.
- Read about the Topic: Once you find one you like, you can learn more about that issue by looking at some of the hyperlinked articles. You can also look at Gale Opposing Viewpoints (which is often available through your school library) to find articles that give you an overview of the issue.
- Choose a Question to Research: After you find a topic idea you like, write out the question and make a list of other similar issues or words you could use as keywords to research. You can use the other questions on the topic list to help you out.
- Use Your Keyword Ideas to Look for Articles: You can start by looking at Google to see what you will find, but don't use articles from Google that don't fit the type of authoritative sources your instructor requires. Use your library resources to find more academic articles.
About This List
The technology research topics below are listed in categories and include hyperlinked articles to help you get you started. Many of the essays are used in popular college research essay textbooks like Perspectives on Argument (ed. Nancy Wood), which I use with my college students. However, because technology changes so quickly, I've also included links to articles in Discover Magazine which highlight interesting new innovations. Discover is a good place to start looking for topics since the magazine is written with authoritative scientific sources for the general reader. Here are the steps to start your research paper:
Here is a list of twenty starter topic ideas for research essays. See below for many more!
- What are the long-term effects of living in a technological world? Are these mostly negative or positive?
- Are children under 12 now growing up in a different world than college-age students did? How is it different, and what does that mean for them?
- What is the most important new technology for solving world problems?
- How has social media helped solve and create problems in countries outside the U.S.?
- Will governments like China continue to be able to control citizens' access to the Internet and social media?
- How do social media, texting, cell phones, and the Internet make the world bigger? Smaller?
- What are the implications of ever-increasing globalization through technology to the global economy?
- Technology is changing so quickly that we are frequently using computers, software programs, and other technologies that have frustrating glitches and problems. Is there a solution?
- How does our experience of social interactions with other humans influence the way we interact with machines?
- When does it become morally wrong to genetically engineer your child?
- What are new ways people can use technology to change the world?
- How is digital learning going to change schools and education?
- Does the Internet need controls or censorship? If so, what kind?
- Do digital tools make us more or less productive at work?
- To what extent is the development of new technologies having a negative effect?
- How will technology change our lives in twenty years?
- Should people get identity chips implanted under their skin?
- Should people in all countries have equal access to technological developments?
- Can video gaming really help solve world problems? (see video)
- How are brains different from computers? (see video)
- Is organic food really better for you than genetically modified foods?
- What are genetically modified food technologies able to do? How does this compare with traditional plant breeding methods?
- Should genetically modified food technologies be used to solve hunger issues?
- Since it is now possible to sequence human genes to find out about possible future heath risks, is that something everyone should have done? What are the advantages or disadvantages?
- If people have genetic testing, who has the right to that information? Should healthcare companies and employers have access to that information?
- If parents have genetic information about their children, when and how should they share it with the child?
- What sort of genetic information should parents seek about their children and how might this influence raising that child?
- Would having cars that drive themselves be a good or bad idea?
- How might travel in the future be different?
- Should information technologies and Internet availability make work from home the norm?
How Will Computers Change in Five Years?
- What is the best way for infertile couples to have a child?
- Should research into mechanical reproduction technologies be unlimited?
- What do we do about frozen embryos that won't be used by the donating couple?
- Should "adopting" frozen embryos be encouraged more widely?
- Is mechanical reproduction ethical?
- Is there a difference between raising adopted and birth children?
- How can we best take care of the problem of unwanted pregnancies?
- What makes a person a mother or a father?
- What regulation should there be on the infertility technologies?
- Should health insurance plans cover infertility technologies?
Your Gamete, Myself: An article about egg and sperm donation
- How important is it to have a genetic connection with your children?
- Do egg donors and children have rights to a relationship?
- Should egg and sperm donors be compensated?
The Curious Lives of Surrogates: Discussing the reason why some women choose to be surrogate mothers.
- Is surrogate pregnancy a good way for a couple to get a baby?
- Is it right that surrogacy is heavily advertised to military wives?
- What should the children’s rights be in a case of surrogate pregnancy?
- Should surrogates be used for any reason, or only for health reasons?
- Is it ethical for a woman to carry someone else’s child?
- Should there be regulations of international surrogacy?
Technology and Health
The Beating Heart Donors: Discussing organ transplant procedures.
- When is a person dead? How do we define death? Should there be changes in our definition of “brain death"?
- Should organ donors be given pain medications?
- Should we choose organ donation for ourselves and our loved ones?
- Do organ donors feel pain?
- Is it ethical to use tissue from animals in people?
- Are using embryonic stem cells necessary, or will technological innovations make these obsolete?
- Should more funding grants from the National Institute of Health (which tend to support research projects without immediate practical applications) go to practical research projects which produce direct medical help to individuals?
- When considering war, should we factor in the medical costs of soldiers who will return wounded?
The Bypass Cure: Tells of new evidence that Gastric Bypass surgery can cure diabetes.
- Should bypass surgeries be used as a standard cure for type 2 diabetes?
- What is the cause of the recent increase in diabetes in the U.S.?
- How much of diabetes type 2 and obesity is genetic? How much is behavioral?
- Should people with obesity and diabetes or other diseases pay more for health care?
Genetic Engineering of Humans Research Links
- Genetically Engineering Babies with Three Parents (two short articles explaining this)
- Reverse Eugenics: Choosing an Embryo With a Disability
- Help Wanted: Adventurous Woman to Give Birth to a Neanderthal Baby
- Human Genome Project fact sheets
- Is human cloning a good or bad idea?
- Should we ban human cloning?
- What makes people human?
- What is the role of religion/faith in making decisions about using reproductive technologies?
- How does cloning change the value of human life?
- How should we best solve the problem of genetic diseases?
- Is there a point when genetic engineering has gone too far?
- Who should decide the limits of how genetic engineering is used?
- What is the best way to use the technologies of genetic engineering to help humans?
- Which genetic engineering projects should be given the most funding?
Technical Experiments on Humans
Medicine, Experiments, and Human Identity
- Should human life be deemed more important than animal life?
- What is the dignity of human life and how should we observe this in medical situations?
- Who decides how far medical research should go?
- Should there be limits to the scientific investigation on humans?
DNA Test Gives Students Shock (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/13/nyregion/dna-tells-students-they-arent-who-they-thought.html?_r=0)
- What should determine our racial identity? Is is our DNA, our appearance, our choice, our family or our cultural environment?
- How important is DNA information in forming our identity?
- Should people get Ancestry DNA testing?
- Should identifying as multi-racial be more common?
Ways to Leave Your Body: Tells about out-of-body technologies like virtual reality as well as other ways to be outside yourself.
- What is the self? Can it be found in scientific investigation?
- Does science have the final say about who we are? Will technology create an Inception effect where people will not be able to distinguish out-of-body from in-body experiences?
- How will virtual reality technology change us?
- Is virtual reality the future?
- Should there be a limit to the research on virtual reality?
- What are the uses and benefits of virtual reality technologies?
The Switched On Brain: Describes studies that are using light waves in the brain to cure psychiatric diseases.
- Is controlling brains with technology like light ethical?
- How important is it to find alternative treatments (something other than drugs) for mental illness?
- What is the best way to treat mental illness?
- Has an increase in the use of technology affected the rise of mental illness in the U.S.?
- If it were possible, should technologies be used to control drug addictions?
- Should we seek ways to control the brain with technologies?
- What are the social dangers of brain-controlling technologies?
Relationships and Media
- Has social media changed our relationships in a good or bad way?
- How important is it to monitor and limit our social media intake?
- Is addiction to technology something we should worry about?
- Are the distractions of using social media negatively influencing the workplace?
- Has media hurt or helped family communication? Friendship communication? Romantic relationships?
When Texting is Wrong, by Randy Cohen in the New York Times.
- Should there be social rules about cell phone use in schools or the workplace?
- How are technologies changing the way people interact in the workplace?
- Have texting and social media damaged this generation's ability to communicate in person?
- Do cell phones and social media make family relationships stronger?
- How has texting changed the way we communicate with one another?
- What are the dangers of texting?
- When is texting rude? Has texting made this generation less respectful of other people? Who decides?
They Loved Your G.P.A. and Then They Saw Your Tweets by Natasha Singer in the New York Times
- How should people manage their social networking profiles? How important is this?
- Should there be limits to the access a university or employer has to social profiles?
- Should teachers have limits on social networking with students?
- How should professionals use Facebook or other social media?
- Should there be more regulations on social media privacy?
- How large a role should social profiles have in hiring and other decisions?
- How justifiable is it to take legal action against someone for posts on social media sites?
Living with the Bomb in National Geographic
- Does increasing military technology really make us safer?
- Do more guns make people more or less safe?
- How much money should the U.S. devote to military research for better weapons?
- What would happen if someone detonated a nuclear bomb today?
- How should the U.S. and other nations deal with Iran and North Korea and their development of nuclear weapons technology?
- Should we destroy our nuclear weapons?
- How has modern warfare technology changed the way we view war?
- Has technology made the world safer or less safe?
- Should drones be used in modern warfare?
- What is the effect of taking people out of direct combat with the enemy?
Information Technology Essay Topics
Is Google Making Us Stupid? by Nicholas Carr in the Atlantic Monthly
- Is technology changing the way we read?
- Does an online format cause readers to skim rather than fully digest information?
- Is being able to find information quickly online a good or bad thing?
- How do we gauge intelligence?
- How is Google search changing us?
- How should we change teaching to incorporate new technologies?
- How important is it that schools teach using iPads, Smart Boards, social media, and other new technologies?
- Is there an intelligence developed through conventional reading and research which is being lost in the digital age?
- If Google prefers their own brand of information, are we getting the best when we search?
Does the Internet Make You Smarter? by Clay Shirky in the Wall Street Journal
- Should there be regulation of sites such as Wikipedia which provide information that is not necessarily credible?
- Are blogs better than books?
- How necessary is teaching traditional researching skills to today’s young people?
- Do schools and parents need to encourage or discourage media use?
- How is reading digitally different than reading print?
- Is the digital generation going to be smarter or dumber?
- Is Google affecting the attention span of young people?
- Is using technology for entertainment a bad thing?
Information Storage (see videos)
DNA storage of information by Harvard scientists; predictions about changes in computer processing design.
- How can storing information on DNA create new information system technologies?
- Are there any ethical objections to using DNA for storage?
- Is unlimited data storage a good thing? How can humans manage these large amounts of information?
- Should we worry about the fact that the line between the human brain and a computer is getting blurred? Is it a problem that computers will soon be able to think?
- Should we build robots to do many of the tasks people don't like to do? How relevant is the Wall-E scenario to our future?
Computer Science and Robotics
- Where is the hardware and software borderline in cloud computing?
- What will be the consequences of everything moving into the cloud?
- Can reinforcement learning teach robots to be more intelligent and more like humans?
- Since open-source is becoming more of a trend in computer science, how can computer programmers be able to protect a device?
- How will big data and bioinformatics change biology?
- What is machine learning? How important is it?
- Where will machine learning have the most impact?
- How will virtualization change entertainment?
- How will virtual reality change education?
- Is virtual reality a good or bad thing?
- What is the next level for the Internet? How can the Internet be changed to make it better?
- If computers take over many of our tasks, what will humans do?
- Which computer languages are going to be most important in the future?
- If there is a new computer language to be invented, what does it need to do to be better than the languages we now have?
- How are robots changing health care?
Five Kinds of Arguable Claims
Arguable Claim Examples: Pro Global Warming
Con Global Warming
Exploratory Essay Topics
What is it?
Global warming is real and can be documented with scientific evidence.
Global warming is a myth.
Is global warming real?
What does it mean?
Global warming is a serious and immediate threat to human and animal life.
Even if true, global warming is not an immediate threat.
How would global warming affect us?
What caused it?
Global warming is caused by man.
Natural processes on Earth and solar flares cause temperature fluctuations on earth.
What causes temperature fluctuations on earth?
What is important and why?
Global warming is an important problem now.
Global economic stability is more important than worrying about global warming.
How important is global warming?
What should we do about it? Who should do it?
The Kyoto Protocol needs to be adopted by all nations.
The Kyoto agreements would threaten world economies.
How should the world respond to the data suggesting global warming is happening?