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The goal of this essay is to demonstrate your mastery of the argument techniques that we’ve been studying for the last three assignments. You’re going to put forth an extended argument that attempts to fully defend a position.
Since this is the last paper, the following steps comprehensively cover our semester. You’ll be expected to:
• Conduct a wide variety of research
• Write a well-organized essay where everything works to support your thesis
• Utilize strong, credible evidence in support of your topic and acknowledge what evidence is inconclusive or based on inference
• Write a thorough introduction that hooks attention, summarizes the issues and various views on the problem, and establishes a clear thesis for the essay.
• Document everything correctly and cite everything that needs citing
• Avoid logical fallacies
• Address and refute the opposition
This should still follow academic essay structure (the classic 5-paragraph formula, of introduction/support/conclusion), but will need “dig in” to each part (I mention the 5-paragraph formula, but the body of your essay will likely need more than 3 paragraphs. However, no matter how long an academic essay gets -6, 10 or 20 pages – that essential formula remains.) So remember: write a well-developed introduction that hooks attention and informs the uninformed reader about the issue before taking a clear position; use each body paragraph to present at least one piece of evidence supporting your point. Conclude by tying it all together and suggesting a next step.
For this paper, you can finally pursue any controversial topic you like. I’d recommend choosing an intriguing issue you know a little bit about, but would still like to know more. That way, you’ll be motivated to read more on the topic. If you choose a topic you’re not interested in, whether because it seems easy or you already know what you’d say, you won’t be very motivated to do any reading. And there’s nothing worse than a research paper with no research. Novice writers think they can cover that up by tossing in a bunch of quotes, but thoughtful readers can tell when a writer is informed and seems to understand the full complexity of the issue. If you’re blanking, or are too tired to care at this point, I’d again recommend you explore our library’s databases on controversial topics. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center is still a great place to both get started with ideas and dig into sources, and CQ Researcher and Issues and Controversies have good primers on topics that allow you to explore the issue on the surface to see if you want to go further.
Sources and Documentation: You’ll need 5 sources, and like it says above, you need to have at least one book and one periodical (either a newspaper, magazine or journal). Otherwise, it’s up to you to determine what sources will best support your case. That’s part of the criteria. MLA format is again required.
Length: The final paper should total around 6 pages, not including the Works Cited page. I’m not a huge stickler for page length, nor am I a huge fan of obvious padding through lengthy conclusions or extra spaces between paragraphs. If you’re coming up short, dig for more information! There’s always another reason out there to build one or two more paragraphs around if you keep reading. Criteria/Rubric:
• Depth and Development (Did the paper broaden or narrow the topic sufficiently to fit a 6 page paper? Does the paper show depth to the research and fully explore the supporting topics?) 35%
• Sources and Documentation (Did the paper choose and correctly document good sources?) 30%
• Argument essay basics: structure, tone, appeals, development 25%
• Grammar and Mechanics 10%