The Hidden Figures movie provides many interesting research paper topics. It’s a fact-based biography of Katherine G. Johnson (played by Taraji P. Henson), a black woman mathematician at NASA in the 1960s who helped win the Space Race. The movie also features Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), a mechanical engineer, and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae), a researcher in supersonic flight. These women were literally rocket scientists!
Use Hidden Figures as an interesting research topic. (Credit: BGN)
We’ve all seen old television images of the Houston control room monitoring the progress of manned space flights. They are filled with only white men in white shirts and buzz cuts. But a diverse group of people helped accomplish NASA’s space race.Hidden Figures is a movie fifty years overdue. It chronicles the work of black women mathematicians, called “calculators” in those days, who did the extremely complicated mathematical computations needed to send a rocket to the moon and back.
Science versus segregation
For your term paper, you could write about segregation in the sciences. It’s hard to fathom now, but at the same time as highly trained scientists were figuring out how to accomplish man’s most complicated scientific achievement, the state of Virginia still believed in separating blacks from whites in Hampton, Virginia, at the Langley Research Center, a scientific facility of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) (the predecessor of NASA), even as it was progressive enough to hire female mathematicians.
Writing in “‘Hidden Figures’ and the journey to celebrate NASA’s black female pioneers,” posted December 23, 2016, at PBS.org, Nsikan Akpan commented that hiring black mathematicians “transformed Hampton and Langley into a bastion of aeronautical supremacy, while also eroding racial divides over subsequent decades. Virginia was one of the last states to abandon Jim Crow policies such as segregated schools… [Hidden Figures book author Margot Lee] Shetterly traces Hampton’s trail to integration, showing how America struggled with racial reforms through the lens of one progressive city and the nation’s space race with the Soviet Union.”
Racial progress at NASA
You could also write your paper on ways that NASA in the 1960s bucked the trend of racial disparity. Necessity eventually won out over racial discrimination. When Katherine Johnson was the only person capable of doing the complicated mathematical computations to put John Glenn into orbit, she was transferred to an all-male, white department. When her manager learned that she literally had to run to the only available colored bathroom at the other end of the facility, NASA made changes.
“I was angry, at first, that we didn’t know about these women, black and white,” said Octavia Spencer in “‘Hidden Figures’ Stars Octavia Spencer, Kevin Costner Talk NASA’s Pioneering African American Women,” by Bob Strauss, posted Los Angeles Daily News, December 24, 2016. “But then, when you put it in context, NASA was much more progressive than the rest of our society because they did integrate the workplace, they did allow black engineers to work alongside their white counterparts.”
Hollywood has few roles for black women
Another good research paper topic is to discuss how Hollywood seldom has prominent roles for black women outside traditional roles. In “Hollywood Needs More ‘Hidden Figures’ To Fix Its Diversity Problem,” posted in Huffington Post January 11, 2017, Austin S. Harris wrote: “The problem is that society chooses to focus on certain films, and certain portrayals, because on some subconscious level, the movies and characters fit society’s expectation of where black women belong.” He notes that only once has a black woman won an Oscar for Best Actress (Halle Berry for Monster’s Ball). Others have won for Best Supporting Actress for roles as a slave, a maid, an abusive welfare mother—none for a black woman with a college degree. Harris said, “That’s why as a filmmaker, I will continue to create and promote art that mirrors the diverse world we live in.”
For more information, check out Questia’s library on NASA and Segregation.
Who are some prominent historical black women you’d like to see a movie about?
The success of a research paper mostly depends on the topic, which is why a lot of time is spent searching for the right research paper topics for college students. All academic authors face a similar problem, from freshmen to professors.
You had already written some research papers when you were at school, but college level research paper topics will be more difficult and require from you deeper knowledge and analytical skills. At college tutors expect students to not only state information about certain topics, but also to draw new knowledge, critically evaluate information, and make original conclusions.
There are three keys that increase your chances to pick a good topic for a research paper:
- Look at worldwide experience. An analytical overview of recent advances will give a good basis for your topic.
- Be flexible. You can change the direction of your topic during writing.
- Be in trend with latest news. Keep track on several sections of the news portal and analyze situations.
You can be inspired with situations that have occurred with you or your friends, or from information that you have read a long time ago. College research paper topic ideas can evolve just in conversation with your family or tutor. All you need to remember is: write only about topics that are interesting for you, consider up-to-date information, and always make sure that there is enough information about the topic to conduct research.
But this is not a reason to panic! We have prepared a unique college research paper topics list on various topics. The list was divided into three parts depending on the complexity of research: easy, medium, and hard.
Easy Topics for College Research Papers
- Analyze the accountability and effects of police body-worn cameras.
- Examine the history of Bollywood music. What style is the most common?
- Present arguments about why cannabis should be decriminalized in all states of the U.S.
- Describe what situations in college make the student’s life unsustainable.
- Describe how the topic about xiake is depicted in Asian movies.
- Yellowstone volcano: How would an eruption influence the U.S. and the whole world?
- Identify types of alternative medicine that are popular in the U.S.
- Design and construction of thermal energy power systems around the globe.
- Research and discuss the bibliography of Ernest Gaines.
- Analysis of free software movement and its contribution to society.
- The challenges of managing a multi-generational workforce.
- Describe social peculiarities of Islamophobia in Russia and the U.S.
- Analyze the promotion of cognitive development among elderly people.
- Investigate the problem of involuntary de-boarding situation among airlines.
- Offer distinct arguments about the benefits of probation and problems that it creates.
Medium Topics for College Research Papers
- Research and discuss the benefits of Catalonia receiving independence.
- Distinctive characteristics of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- About the salvation of non-Christians and the eternity of torment in “The Great Divorce” by C. S. Lewis.
- Identify the assessment methods of community health needs.
- How has healthcare reform helped or hurt access to healthcare in the U.S.?
- Analyze the influence of Mexico City’s transportation on air pollution.
- Muslim migration. What are the consequences of this migration and should it be stopped?
- Analysis of reasons of the Soviet famine of 1932–33 and its consequences.
- The use of diagnostic medical sonography in obstetrics and gynecology.
- Examine the effects of pre-election polling on voter behavior.
- Police psychology. Analysis of methods for shaping qualities necessary for effective performance of official duties.
- Describe what controversial issues have arisen from Guantanamo Bay.
- Discuss the regulation of live videos on Facebook and other social networks in the example of the case with the killing in Thailand.
- Analyze problems of the utilization of long-lived radioactive waste in U.S. radioactive management.
- The role of iron supplementation in the treatment of anemia in cancer patients.
Hard Topics for College Research Papers
- Analysis of Japanese history from the Jomon to the Nara Period.
- Compare the aspects of United States corporate law with the judiciary of Saudi Arabia.
- Sleep deprivation and its impact on dreams in the adult population.
- Contingency management for substance use treatment for pregnant and postpartum women.
- Moore’s Law. What impact did it have on computer development?
- How did the copyright laws in the 1930s affect how eugenics was portrayed on the silver screen?
- Features and benefits of formal and informal assessment for elementary.
- Outline the effects of the emigration of educated persons from Puerto Rico.
- The importance of sunlight in children’s hospitals and its influence on recovery.
- Analysis of growth of nuclear weapons across the globe on the example of North and South Korea.
- Identify and analyze similarities between the Book of Exodus and the Gospel of Matthew in the first two chapters.
- Describe the system of music education in China and peculiarities of its development.
- Discuss the issue of psychological help for first responders and consequences of systematic stress.
- Effect of obesity on kidney function and the possibility of drug therapy for children with obesity.
- Investigate and compare modern methods of assessing the activity of systemic lupus erythematosus.