Essay #4 argumentative research essay

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Assignment Description

In upper level courses, you will often be asked to demonstrate your ability to converse with other scholars in your field. Your job is to change the reader’s mind about a particular subject and persuade the reader into believing your argument. Your paper must be written so that it is accessible to readers from a different perspective. In other words, be fair and unbiased when acknowledging what others say about your topic, but then prove why they are wrong using logical reasons and credible evidence. In this essay, you must synthesize various sources while persuading the reader to accept your viewpoint. You do not want to simply report what others are saying, but engage in a dialogue with them.

Your research paper MUST include the following:

  • A clearly stated thesis that articulates your position and what you want to argue in your paper; your thesis should be narrow enough to be argued within the page limits and qualified if necessary. Your thesis should fall at the END of your introduction. See the PPT “Creating Thesis Statements” on eCampus for more help.
  • Clear reasons with supporting evidence; do not use religion as evidence because you cannot persuade someone to change beliefs with religion or faith because religion is personal.
  • A variety of evidence. See the PPT “Arguing and Evidence” on eCampus for more help.
  • A synthesis of sources; do not simply summarize your source material, but show how they are connected and respond to them
  • The “quotation sandwich” method for quoting, which includes an introduction, an explanation, and commentary; don’t be a hit-and-run quoter. See the PPT on eCampus “The Art of Quoting” for more help.
  • A variety of citations: exact quotes, paraphrases, and summaries; cite all appropriately.
  • A fully-developed counterargument paragraph with a fully-developed refutation paragraph
  • A title that gives an insight into the paper and is catchy and interesting; it should be in the form of metacommentary.
  • A minimum of five credible and relevant sources
  • A minimum of five pages in MLA format, not including the MLA Works Cited; check eCampus for examples and guidelines 
  • A Works Cited page in MLA format with corresponding in-text citations

You may NOT write about the following topics. They are not acceptable in this class (reasons why are listed after the forbidden topics):

  • Legalizing marijuana (I use it as my example, so it gives students an unfair advantage)
  • Abortion (Because science has not determined when life begins, abortion is strictly a religious issue)
  • Obesity (I’m just tired of this topic, and yes, we all know that being overweight is not healthy)
  • Texting and driving (Good lord, we all know it’s a bad idea. There is no point in arguing) 

Minimum Requirements

Length: 5-6 pages, not including the Works Cited page. Style: Essay needs to conform to MLA standards, including double spacing in Times New Roman font, and must include a Works Cited page with correct in-text (parenthetical) citations for all quotes, paraphrases, and/or summaries. Sources: Five sources minimum: three peer reviewed academic articles from a database plus two credible sources of your choice (newspapers, organizations, government websites, books, etc.). One of your sources must be a counterargument that you will refute in your essay.


Due Dates/Points Possible

Worth: 100 points; 15% of your total grade

Peer Review/First Draft: Post to the Group Discussion Board, see syllabus for date

Second Draft: Safe Assign on eCampus, see syllabus for date

Final Draft: Safe Assign on eCampus, see syllabus for date

Purpose and Learning Objectives

The purpose of this assignment is to practice persuasive writing and synthesis of sources. You will increase your critical thinking skills by analyzing yours and others’ assumptions, evaluating multiple perspectives, and developing a clear position. Writing, research, and eloquent written expression are vital for a successful future. You will express all of these skills in this assignment.

Your research paper should demonstrate the following learning objectives:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the audience to whom you are speaking
  2. Demonstrate the ability to enter a scholarly conversation
  3. Illustrate the purpose of your argument
  4. Create a qualified and narrow argumentative thesis statement
  5. Demonstrate the ability to use the library databases
  6. Research and evaluate relevant academic sources
  7. Research and evaluate popular sources for credibility and relevance
  8. Synthesize various information from relevant and credible sources
  9. Construct and organize academic paragraphs
  10. Summarize, paraphrase, and quote correctly
  11. Build and create an argumentative essay
  12. Apply the standards of MLA to avoid plagiarism
  13. Create documents in MLA style
  14. Apply formal, academic English in writing

Process of Completion

  1. Choose a topic that you are interested in, and fill out the “Creating a Research Plan” handout (posted on eCampus).
  2. Write down everything that you know about your topic in your Writer’s Notebook. What can you verify? What is common knowledge and what needs a source to prove that it’s true? Find credible sources to prove anything that is not common knowledge.
  3. Begin preliminary research to discover more about your topic. Do a basic Google search and read dot-com websites, Wikipedia, and news sources to broaden your knowledge. Remember that dot-com and Wikipedia are tertiary sources and not credible for citing in an academic essay. You are just gaining more knowledge right now.
  4. Narrow your topic and formulate a working thesis. Then come up with research questions to guide your research. See the PPT “Developing a Research Plan” for more help.
  5. Begin research using the Richland library databases. Academic Search Complete is the best database to begin your research. Find a minimum of three academic sources to use in your essay.
  6. Do a web search for credible sources to include in your essay. Use newspapers, organizations, or government websites. See the PPT “Source Credibility” for help determining credible sources. Be sure you have at least ONE source that you disagree with in order to include a counterargument in your essay.
  7. In your Writer’s Notebook, annotate the five sources you want to use in your essay. Take careful notes over the author’s claim and purpose. Respond in your notebook. Do you agree, disagree, or have mixed feelings about the ideas in these sources?
  8. Put together an outline to help organize your ideas. See the handout on eCampus “Creating an Outline” for more help.
  9. Choose the sections of your sources that you want to include in your essay. Be sure to include at least one paraphrase, one summary, and several quotes. See the PPT “The Art of Quoting” and “Paraphrasing” on eCampus for more help with integrating your sources.
  10. Write your rough draft using the Tell, Show, Share Method of paragraph development. See the PPT “The Tell, Show, Share Method” on eCampus for more help. Don’t worry about grammar now; just put your thoughts down on paper. See the handout “Ten Tips for a Successful Argument Essay” on eCampus for more help.
  11. Put your essay away for twenty-four hours before revising it for grammar and punctuation mistakes. Visit the English Corner for more help with revision or expanding your ideas.
  12. Come to all peer reviews and turn in all drafts. Review carefully your peers’ comments and then mine. Edit and revise your essays based on the feedback you receive.
  13. Review your Safe Assign report for plagiarism BEFORE turning in your final draft!
  14. Reread your essay one last time and make any final edits or changes before turning in your final!


Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Plagiarism includes failing to cite a direct quote with quotation marks and an in-text citation, borrowing someone else’s work without a correct citation, bad paraphrasing (Safe Assign will not identify a good or fair paraphrase), purchasing a paper, having someone else write your essay, or turning in the same paper to two different classes. Any paper with plagiarism, even accidental (I forgot to cite that!), will receive a zero as a final grade. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to cite correctly. See both MLA citation PPTs on eCampus or visit Purdue OWL for more help.

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