Basic Details of the Assignment
Word count: 1,500 minimum. This word count minimum includes the Works Cited page. This paper is three times the word count of the other essays in this course — therefore, it will count as 30% of the course grade.
Format: Introduction paragraph (with clear thesis), 3 (or more) body paragraphs (with clear topic sentences), conclusion paragraph. Students will use MLA formatting, which includes a header, page numbering, and a Works Cited page. The textbook gives good examples of MLA formatting (inside the research chapter(s). Use standard font (Times New Roman, 12 pt font — no fancy colors or fonts). Double space the entire paper (2.0 spacing) but do not add extra spaces between paragraphs.
Research: You are required to use at least four sources in this paper (you may use more, if you want). Please scroll down for more details about this component. As well, a Works Cited page is REQUIRED for this paper. If a student fails to submit a Works Cited page, it will be considered plagiarism (even if unintentional). Failure to include BOTH in-text citations and a Works Cited page will result in a failing grade.
How to Begin
First, you’ll need to select a topic. It’s important to pick a topic you’re interested in. It’s okay if you know very little about the topic. That’s what the research is for. It’s also okay if you already know something about the topic, but want to add research to support your points. Either approach is fine.
This paper MUST BE a persuasive/argumentative paper. You’ll need to choose a topic with two clear “sides.” However, you will ONLY be arguing ONE side (your goal is to try and persuade the reader to YOUR side). To do this, in your body paragraphs, you will be using statistics and information from outside sources (that’s where your research will come in). You may also use an occasional personal example. Whatever your topic, you must have specific detail and examples, just as you would in any 1301 essay.
Topic possibilities — there’s a wealth of possible 2-sided topics if you follow these directions:
First, click our TJC Library website
(Links to an external site.)
. Then, click “Online Resources” on that right-hand menu. Next, scroll down to the title of “Current Issues and Controversies.” Then, click “Points of View Reference Center.” This will take you to a VAST amount of topics and resources.
I would advise against using any “overused” topics, such as abortion, gay marriage, immigration, or the health care law. These are fine topics, and they’re very worthy of research and debate, but most students tend to fall back on ONLY these for a research paper. So, while I’m not “forbidding” these topics (if you really feel strongly about one of them, then yes, you can choose it as your topic), I do strongly suggest that you look over the HUGE list of possible topics inside our TJC library site before making your decision. If you have any questions about topics — especially whether or not it would make a good argumentative paper — please contact me.
Once you’ve decided on a topic, make sure to have a thesis statement that sums up exactly what it is about that topic you’re discussing. Ask yourself–what is the main point I’m trying to make about my topic?
Below are some example thesis statements. You are free to choose a different topic that interests you — as long as it is persuasive in nature (and it has 2 very clear “sides”). If you choose a non-persuasive topic, you’ll be in danger of writing a paper that’s outside this assignment. If you’re not sure that your topic is persuasive enough, please email Mrs. Minkel. Mrs. Minkel also does not mind controversial topics (she will never base her grade upon her personal feelings on a topic). But again, if you’re concerned it’s too controversial, just email Mrs. Minkel to ask.
Remember–you will be choosing one side or the other – not both sides…
High school students (should/should not) be required to wear uniforms.
Relaxed parenting (does/does not) provide more positive results than strict parenting.
Students (should/should not) be allowed to listen to music while working on in-class assignments.
High school students (should/should not) take a year off before entering college.
Technology (does/does not) strengthen social relationships in positive ways.
High school students (should/should not) be allowed to use their phones while in class.
College athletes (should/should not) be paid for playing.
The government (should/should not) place a tax on junk food and fatty snacks.
People with terminal illnesses (should/should not) have the right to doctor assisted suicide.
You may also write about local TJC issues, Tyler issues, state issues, national issues. Just be sure you have strong sources and that your points are not too complex for a paper this size (for instance, the healthcare issue is much too broad and complicated for a paper this size).
Other topic possibilities can be located in the Argumentative chapter in your textbook (under “Suggestions for Writing”).
TOPICS TO AVOID:
*Any “this is better than that” comparison argument. Oftentimes, those statements are based more on opinion than fact. Example to avoid: Involvement in band is better than involvement in athletics. Or — rap music is better than country music. These are not “argumentative” topics because they’re so subjective in nature. They’re strictly a matter of opinion and do not make for strong arguable theses.
*Any statement that MOST PEOPLE would easily agree with. Example: Bullying is a terrible thing. (Who wouldn’t agree with that? Except maybe the bully!). Instead, turn this into an arguable thesis that has two opposite sides: Bullies on social media should be banned permanently from all social media. (Not everyone would agree with this — they might think it’s too harsh, or that it infringes on freedom of speech issues, etc. So, with this topic, there are clearly two sides).
Note: To make sure your thesis is argumentative, try this test:
Place your topic into a “should/should not” statement (the way I’ve done with all the above topic choices). Example: “Uniforms should be enforced in high schools.”
This way, you know that there are 2 clear sides to the issue, and you’ve clearly chosen YOUR side in the thesis.
THE BEST WAY TO TEST YOUR TOPIC: To see if your supporting paragraphs are “on target,” finish the sentence with “because” and give your reasons (which would essentially be your body paragraph topics). You can literally take this “formula” and put it into your paper (First reason, second reason, third reason). That’s fine with me, and in fact, I’d prefer it, to help keep students on target.
Example Thesis: Uniforms should be enforced in high schools because…
Body 1: The first reason uniforms should be enforced is because…
Body 2: The second reason uniforms should be enforced is because…
Body 3: The third reason uniforms should be enforced is because…
Don’t forget to use lots of clear, specific details and examples in your supporting paragraphs. I will hold you even more accountable for giving good detail in this paper, because of the fact that your goal is to persuade me. If I’m not convinced by your detail, facts, statistics, etc, the grade will be affected. So–pretend as you’re writing the paper that I don’t believe you – that I’m skeptical about what you’re saying. That way, you’ll try hard to “convince” me of your side.
After choosing an argumentative topic (one that can be “debated”), do some significant pre-writing. Make up a pros/cons list, then choose the strongest points from both sides. What you’ll be doing in this pre-writing stage is to look at both sides of the issue. This way, you can pick your strongest arguments (from the side you support) and you’ll be educated about the “other side,” too.
Next, develop a very clear outline (follow the guidelines given inside the “Outline” assignment inside this unit).
Checking for Plagiarism:
Remember that ALL major essays are automatically run through the Turnitin.com database, which will check papers for plagiarism (against millions of other student papers, as well as online sources). This essay requires sources to be used, and documentation to be given. IF you submit a paper that has NO documentation, your grade will suffer severely (because, technically, you’ve committed plagiarism, even if you put the paper into your own words and didn’t quote word-for-word. Not giving any credit to the authors you’ve used is like stealing their work).
It’s vital that you follow all instructions for citing your sources. Please consult the Citation Unit, as well as all of the citation resources in this unit. And please see Mrs. Minkel’s plagiarism policy here.
If you have ANY questions about plagiarism or citations, please contact Ms. Borum. She’s happy to answer questions.
Basic Info on the “Research” Side of This Paper:
You’ll probably be researching certain statistics, facts, case studies for your topic, depending on what it is. A good idea is to insert at least one of your sources into each BODY PARAGRAPH. This can be one small statistic, or it can be a longer example that contains a few sentences (just be sure to cite the source carefully — even paraphrases must be cited).
NOTE: The idea of a research paper is not to dump information into a paragraph. As a whole, this paper should still “feel” like a regular essay. It should read smoothly and should feel organized. You do need to add topic sentences and transition sentences (and of course, an intro and conclusion). It’s okay of you do use a LOT of research for this paper, but if it feels like it’s all copied/pasted together, that’s not the goal of the research paper. The research should be smoothly blended into your paper, to support YOUR points that you’re already making.
*Inside your paper — The introduction and conclusion should be your own writing (sources are not generally used inside these paragraphs). As well, topic sentences and transition sentences should be your own writing. Inside the body paragraphs, you may sprinkle direct quotes in with paraphrases from your source. Be careful not to place huge blocks of direct quotes inside the body paragraph. Use your judgment – don’t use too many or too few quotes in your paper. Try to balance your quotes with the rest of the paper, making certain they fit smoothly into the body paragraphs.
*Visit the LIBRARY INFO SHEET inside this unit for all the links and info you’ll need on your required “library” source.
Requirement of Sources
You are required to use at least four sources in this paper (you may use more, if you want). One source MUST BE a “library” type source from our TJC libarary internet database (or, visit the library physically — either way is fine). Library sources are legitimate, reliable sources, containing articles and books from expert authors, people who have studied their field carefully. To enter the TJC Library website and find out more info about it, click this — Library Info Sheet. Your library source might be a book or periodical (magazine).
Your other source may be a “straight Google-searched” online source. HOWEVER, it must be a legitimate, valid site. Be very careful, how you choose an online source. A website with a “.edu” or “.gov” at the end is the most trustworthy type of source. When in doubt, send Ms. Borum the link. If your website is NOT valid or trustworthy, it could mean a significant loss of points for your whole paper.
*Important Note: Wikipedia.com is not considered a reliable website. Neither are blogs or forums (messageboards) or “essay” sites (where students can acquire student essays). Do not use these as a source. In fact, if these are used, they will count as NO source at all.
*You certainly may use the TJC Library for BOTH your sources (and not use an online site at all). It’s up to you. But you MAY NOT HAVE two full-online (Google-searched) sources. One of your sources must come from the TJC library (or another library – Tyler library, UT library, etc).
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