For this assignment you will write a well-researched argument taking a position on a debatable topic (one about which both sides have reasonable arguments). Pick something that interests you or that you are passionate about, but is manageable for the size and timeframe of the paper. See pp. 249-251 in your textbook on how to pick a topic. There are many debatable topics, so choose something that hasnâ€™t been done repeatedly (examples are abortion, euthanasia, legalization of marijuana, or capital punishment). You may not use a paper you have previously written or use this paper for another class.
Your paper should present your argument supported by outside sources. Your introduction will provide background, discuss why your topic is significant, and contain the thesis statement. You will then present reasoning and arguments supporting your thesis while incorporating research from credible sources and addressing counterarguments. Your conclusion should tie the paper together and provide a sense of closure to your argument.
Your aim is to persuade your audience. You will need to back up each claim you make within the argument. You should use your sources to build credibility and gain authority (ethos) to speak as a writer on a particular topic. You may use ethical, emotional, or logical appeals (ethos, pathos, logos). However, avoid logical fallacies and be careful that your argument is not purely emotional.
Thesis statement: This paper requires a thesis statement. Your thesis statement should be clear, specific, and focused. You will want to argue a debatable point, one that is supportable, but not something that everyone agrees with. Be aware of the â€œstakeholdersâ€ in the argument: who might be affected by the outcome of an argument, and what are their positions? Ideally your argument will be sophisticated, in that it does not just see two sides in black and white, but takes into account multiple viewpoints while firmly supporting your own argument.
Sources: Your sources should demonstrate that you are able to evaluate credibility in selecting them. Do not use Wikipedia, general encyclopedias, or sites providing essays or portions of essays for students. You must cite at least 4 credible sources from scholarly/peer-reviewed journals or respected news/information sources. At least 1 should come from an academic database such as Proquest or Academic Search Complete. Selected information should always be relevant to the central argument. Quotes should be well integrated into your essay and not just be dropped in. Quotes less than four typed lines in length should be integrated into the text. Quotes longer than four typed lines should be â€œblockedâ€â€”see pp. 276-281your textbook. You should use direct quotes, paraphrases, and cite all your sources correctly in the text (textbook pages 282-288) as well as prepare a Works Cited page in MLA 8th edition style (textbook pp. 288-301) to accompany the essay.
Plagiarism: Citing all the sources you use is extremely important. If you donâ€™t, youâ€™ll be guilty of plagiarism, which is taken very seriously by the college. NOVAâ€™s policy on plagiarism is available through Canvas under NOVA Policies and also on the syllabus under the heading â€œAcademic Dishonesty.â€ Make sure you understand that plagiarism is not properly acknowledging the words or ideas of another. Simply plugging in synonyms or rewriting anotherâ€™s ideas or research without acknowledgment is still plagiarizing.
Format: The essay should be double-spaced, typed in 12-pt. type, and follow MLA style. Give your essay an interesting and descriptive title. The essay itself should be 4-6 pages long without being unduly repetitive. Essays less than 4 full pages of text will be marked down substantially. You must also include a Works Cited page. Your textbook has an example of an MLA-style argument paper on pp. 308-315. Aim for sophisticated, if not academic, style. Do not overuse first person. Avoid contractions and clichÃ©s.
Reading assignments: The syllabus assigns reading Chapter 6, â€œDeveloping an Argument of Your Ownâ€ and parts of Chapter 7 â€œUsing Sourcesâ€ in your textbook as homework. These will help you with writing your paper.