Writing a researched argumentative essay is a thoughtful and deliberative process of critical analysis on a controversial issue. The purpose of such writing is to convince readers to accept a controversial opinion, or at least to consider it seriously. In the process, writers must make compelling arguments based on logical reasoning, sound evidence, and attentive writing.
Write an essay arguing a controversial position. Consider taking the research you began on an earlier essay a step further and developing an argument from it. Or begin with a new topic. In either case, start by learning more about the issue and the debate around it, and then take a position. Present the issue so readers recognize that it merits their attention, and develop a well-supported argument that will confirm, challenge, or change your readers’ views.
When choosing an issue, keep in mind that the issue must be:
Controversial – an issue that people disagree about
Arguable – a matter of opinion on which there is no absolute proof for authority
One that you can research in the time you have; and
One that you care about.
If you are having a difficult time coming up with a topic you would like to research, consider using one of the following prompts, which reflect the readings, to write your essay:
Etzioni focuses on a single kind of part-time work, takes a position on how worthwhile it is, and recommends against it. You could write a similar kind of essay. For example, you could take a position for or against students’ participating in other kinds of part-time work or recreation during the high school or college academic year or over the summer – for example, playing on a sports team, volunteering, completing an internship, studying a musical instrument or a foreign language, or taking an elective class. If you work or intern while attending school, you could focus on why a job either strengthens or weakens your education, given your life and career goals.
Solove focuses on one concern about the erosion of privacy. You could write a similar type of essay, taking a position on issues such as state laws requiring women to have ultrasounds before terminating a pregnancy; airport security requiring passengers either to go through a full-body scanner or submit to a “pat-down” before boarding a flight; cell phones making it possible for individuals to be located and tracked without their consent or knowledge; or houses, offices, and even people on the street being depicted on Google Maps without their consent or knowledge.
Coherence, Development, and Clarity
These are three qualities of good writing. As with all essays, you should focus on making your essay coherent, well-developed, and clear.
Coherence requires intention. Each word, sentence, and paragraph must serve the overall intention, or purpose, of the essay. Coherence is thus a sense of unity, a sense that ideas are logically connected with each other. Transitional words and phrases are useful for clarifying relationships between ideas for your readers.
Development in argumentative writing is composed of a focused presentation of the issue, a well-supported position, effectively responding to opposing point of views, and logical organization. This genre of writing requires a variety of support evidence to build your case.
Clarity is required so that readers can easily absorb the language and thus the message of your essay. If an essay of any kind contains excessive grammar errors, readers become distracted and lose interest in the main point. In short, a lack of clarity can demonstrate a lack of intention and can erode your authority as a writer.
Requirements – Your evaluation essay must consider the following:
Develop an arguable thesis statement that states your subject and position clearly.
Establish reasons that support your position on your subject.
Maintain a logical and coherent organizational structure. Organize your essay using the outline styles discussed in class.
Support your argument with appropriate evidence gathered from credible sources. Include at least four outside sources in your essay that support and oppose your point of view. Cite in MLA format.
Include a Works Cited page. When you quote, summarize or paraphrase from the book, movie or television series you evaluate, you must cite it as a source also.
Use a variety of rhetorical strategies as appropriate (narration, description, process narration, examples, definition, classification, comparison and contrast, analogy, and cause-and-effect analysis).
Use an appropriate level of formality and a reasonable tone.
Follow MLA document design format. Use Times New Roman 12-point font, one-inch margins, double spacing, and title your work.
Maintain clarity. Carefully edit your essay to eliminate structural and typographical errors. Essays with excessive errors will be returned.
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