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Each of you has likely completed a research paper at some time during your schooling. You were usually tasked with finding a variety of sources on a subject, reading that information, and then rearranging bits of that information for your reader. The argumentative research paper requires more of you in that while you will still be responsible for researching a topic and incorporating that information into your essay, you will also need to develop an argument about the subject that you then back up with your research on the subject.
An argumentative research paper, like your comparison/contrast, will require you to take a stance on an issue. An argumentative research paper does not simply present information on a topic, but uses research to convince a target audience of the validity of the author’s (your) stance on the subject. You will incorporate research to provide backing for your own argument. You may also include research that provides a counterpoint to your own stance for you to argue against, or some combination of both. A strong argument generally includes considerable evidence in your favor, but still provides information that counters your stance to demonstrate your even-handedness. You will learn and need to demonstrate the conventions of source integration including proper formatting of sources/quotes and evaluation of research materials.
You will need to begin with an appropriately narrowed topic. Remember – your word count will make it impossible for you to argue a stance thoroughly on broad topics. You will then need to do research that helps uphold your stance or provides counterarguments. You can turn almost any topic into an argumentative research paper with a little effort, however, the following topics are strictly off-limits – no exceptions: the gun control debate, pro-life vs. pro-choice, legalization of marijuana, college athlete compensation, childhood obesity, same-sex marriage, etc. These topics are off-limits not because I am personally offended by views presented around these ideas, but because these are issues upon which tens of millions of pages of argument have been written. It will be difficult for you to contribute a new point of view in 1000 words. You will need to think outside the box some to find a topic that lets you create a succinct argument in the word count allotted.
Additionally, part of your grade for this paper will take the form of mandatory individual conferences with me to take place during class time on either Thursday, 10/27 or Tuesday 11/1. These conferences will be student-driven by pre-work you will present to me prior to the conference. Students who fail to attend their individual conferences, regardless of excuse, will lose 1/3 letter grade off their final essay grade, and will accrue two absences since your five-minute conference will be all that you are required to do for two class periods’ worth of attendance. Do not miss your conference. Due to scheduling difficulties, make-up conferences will not be offered.
A successful argumentative research paper will accomplish all of the following elements:
It will be driven by a narrowed and argumentative thesis statement that takes a stance on the topic of choice. The thesis statement and the essay may not simply present information.
It will include no fewer than three but no more than four outside sources that both support and counter the argument presented in the essay. These sources must be vetted for bias and accuracy prior to use in the paper. Inclusion of these sources will need to be properly formatted according to MLA standards and follow the guidelines described in class.
It will display attention to audience in the formulation of the topic, thesis, argument, inclusion and introduction of sources, word choice, tone, content, etc. and should be written in largely formal academic style. (No contractions, etc.)
It will demonstrate the author’s engagement with the research material and the audience through quote integration, conversation with the research material, etc.
It will exhibit proper attention to the conventions of standard American English through careful proofreading to eliminate spelling, mechanical, grammatical, and usage errors.
Each of you has likely completed a research paper at some time during your schooling. You were usually tasked with finding a variety of sources on a subject, reading that information, and then rearranging bits of that information for your reader.