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Essay 4: Source-Based Argument

Conference Dates: November 27-30 
Rough Draft Due Date: 11:59p.m. the night before your scheduled conference 
Peer Editing Date: December 4
Essay Due Date: December 13 by 8 a.m. 
  • To enter a conversation about a controversial topic, to make a clear claim about your stance on the issue,
    and to provide relevant suggestions for a possible solution.
  • To practice modeling your writing in accordance with an academic argument structure (Classical, Rogerian,
    or Toulmin).
  • To research what others are saying about your topic and to provide sufficient, specific evidence from at least three (3) scholarly and credible sources in your own argument.
  • To become proficient at summarizing and evaluating your sources and at successfully linking them to your ow
    n argument.
  • To learn how to integrate sources smoothly into your argument by incorporating transitions, proper attribution, and citations.
  • To address opposing arguments by responding to and evaluating those claims in relation to your own argum
Academic writing is ultimately argumentative writing. As a college student, you are not only asked to absorb information that you learn but also to engage the conversations happening in your field of study. Therefore, when writing an argument paper, you need to figure out both what the conversation is and your personal position on the topic
More importantly, in an argument you are doing more than relating information—more than just summarizing and reviewing articles or stringing together a bunch of quotes from your sources. Instead, you are synthesizing multiple sources, along with your own opinion, into a cohesive, articulate argument to persuade someone on the topic you’ve selected.  
You are not, however, trying to force your reader to believe you are right and that your opinion is the only good one. Rather, the goal of this paper is to persuade your readers to see the legitimacy of your point of view, as a contribution to the conversation. Your audience needs to accept your position as valid, even if they don’t necessarily agree. 
A persuasive argument paper must:
  • Establish the topic and existing conversation
  • Declare your position on the topic
  • Develop a claim and support it with evidence
  • Consider alternative positions/counterarguments
  • Conclude by tying together your key points and providing the reader with ideas for further consideration of the topic 
For this assignment, you are asked to develop the topic you addressed in your Proposal into a researched argument, satisfying the following requirements:
  • A clear and arguable position.
    • At the heart of every argument is a claim with which people may reasonably disagree. To be arguable, a position must reflect one of two points of view, making reasoned argument necessary. Your claim should argue NOT that your position is correct BUT that is it plausible—that it is reasonable, supportable, and worthy of being taken seriously.
  • Necessary background information.
    • Provide some background information on your topic so that readers can understand what is being argued. 
  • Good reasons.
    • By itself, a position does not make an argument; the argument comes when a writer offers reasons to back the position up. You must formulate your own specific reasons for why your claim should be taken seriously and then use those reasons as backing in your essay.
  • Convincing evidence.
    • You need to offer evidence for your reasons: facts, statistics, expert testimony, anecdotal evidence, case studies, or textual evidence. I expect you to incorporate evidence to back up your claim from three (3) scholarly and reliable sources. (Wikipedia and personal blogs are NOT credible sources.)
    • You are more than welcome to use websites, but these will not count toward your 3 sources. If you have any questions about finding reliable sources, please make an appointment with me or visit me during office hours.
    • You must also integrate your sources and cite them properly. DO NOT PLAGIARIZE!!!
  • Appeals to readers’ values.
    • Effective arguers try to appeal to readers’ values and emotions. Consider the deeply held values of your target audience and work to appeal to them in your essay.
  • A trustworthy tone.
    • Arguments can stand or fall on the way readers perceive the writer. Very simply, readers need to trust the person who’s making the argument. One way of winning this trust is by demonstrating that you know what you’re talking about. Speak clearly, succinctly, and knowledgeably about your topic. You can also gain trust by showing that you have some experience with your subject, that you’re fair, and of course that you’re honest.
  • Careful consideration of other positions.
    • No matter how reasonable and careful you are in arguing your position, others may disagree or offer counter-arguments or hold other positions. You need to consider these other views, acknowledge them, and (if possible) refute them in your essay. 
In addition to conforming to the 2009 MLA research paper guidelines, your Researched Argument should do the following in order to be a successful, well-crafted essay: 
  1. Identify/define the issue
    • Provide an interesting introduction to your topic in which you define it and explain why it is controversial
  2. Have a strong thesis
    • Specific/narrow
    • Debatable/argumentative
    • Suggests a solution, call to action, warning, etc.
  3. Demonstrate a developed rhetorical strategy
    • Awareness of audience
    • Appropriate argument structure (Classical, Rogerian, Toulmin)
    • Good organization
  4. Offer reasons to back up your claim
    • Use at least three (3) scholarly sources to support your argument
    • Summarize and evaluate your sources and successfully link them to your argument
    • Integrate sources smoothly into your argument by incorporating transitions, proper attribution, and citations
  5. Address opposing arguments
    • Summarize/discuss counter-arguments
    • Respond to and evaluate those claims
  6. Have a strong conclusion
    • Revisit your argument, though not verbatim—this is your last chance to sway your audience!
    • Most importantly, the significance of your argument should be apparent. Why is this argument important? Why should someone reading this paper be concerned with this particular view? The conclusion should aim to answer the question “So what?” in regards to the argument.
    • Your conclusion should leave your reader with an impression of your stance, a synthesis of what others have said about the topic, and perhaps a direction for future thought about the topic.
  • Your audience is an academic reader, so you should use a formal tone. This does not mean stuffy or full of “big words.” Just make more formal word choices like “children” instead of “kids.” Do not utilize contractions (“don’t” should be written as “do not”; “can’t” should be written as “cannot”; etc.) Also, avoid using the word “you” in your essay. Above all, practice good grammar and mechanics.
  • Ensure that each paragraph is a step leading to the ultimate goal of establishing your primary claim as a viable argument.
  • Support all of your claims with evidence from your sources. If you choose to quote, make sure you cite correctly. Consult your Harbrace Handbook for assistance or ask me for help. Do not plagiarize!
  • Do not use free-standing quotations—always introduce and integrate quoted material into the body of your paragraph. Avoid merely summarizing quotes; rather, interact with your sources, evaluate the authors’ claims, and react to their arguments in relation to your own. Also, clearly indicate the significance of the chosen quote to your thesis. Above all: Do not use a quote to say what you want to say for you—instead, use it to emphasize and support your own ideas.
  • Essays must 4-5 full pages, typed, double-spaced, Times New Roman 12-point font, with 1 inch margins on each side.
  • Essays must include at least three (3) scholarly sources for support.
  • Essays must be saved as Microsoft Word documents (i.e. “doc” or “docx”).
  • Your document should be titled with your last name and the assignment number (e.g. Smith_Essay 4).
  • Rough drafts (min. 3 pages) must be submitted to me via email before your scheduled conferences by 11:59 pm on Monday, December 3.
  • Final drafts must be submitted to me via email before 8a.m. on Thursday, December 13
  • Title the email subject line with your name, your section number, and the assignment number (e.g. John Smith English 101-008 Essay 4).
  • Don’t forget to attach the file!
Jacqueline Kerr,
Nov 4, 2012, 2:01 PM
Jacqueline Kerr,
Nov 4, 2012, 2:01 PM