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ENGL 1302 Fall 2020
The Argument-Based Research Paper Assignment
(Due Date: By or Before 9:00 AM, Nov. 30. Late Papers Will Not Be Accepted.)
Choose one of the topics below for a 1,200-1,500 word argumentative research paper.
1. Discuss the origins of Covid-19 and its effects on human health, education, and the economy.
Should the United States have acted sooner in addressing the pandemic? And how well are we
currently addressing Covid-19 in this country? What are some of the long-term implications
of this pandemic? Find out what the experts in the field of education, psychology, sociology,
economics, and infectious diseases have to say. They should not all agree.
2. Discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of distance education, or online learning in
higher education (college) or in public school (K-12) systems? Is distance education the wave
of the future, and brick-and-mortar schools a thing of the past? Who learns best in an online
learning environment? Who benefits least? Let the experts in education, psychology, and
sociology weigh in. Their views should represent more than one perspective.
3. Discuss the rise in social protest movements throughout the country, and calls for the defunding
or disbanding of law enforcement agencies in the wake several high-profile cases involving
the deaths of black men at the hands of the police. Is it time to rethink how police officers are
recruited and trained? What do community leaders as well as law enforcement officials believe
is the best approach to addressing public dissatisfaction with police policies on crowd control
and deadly force? A variety of positions should be represented.
4. Are seasonal wildfires in the West, hurricanes and flooding in the Southeast, and tornadoes in
the Midwest the new normal for our country? And assuming these meteorologic events and
their increasing intensity (if not frequency) is the direct effect of global warming, have we
reached the point of no-return in reversing the effects of a warming planet, as some experts are
suggesting? If so, what does the future hold for the next generation and those to follow?
Research some of the current predictions held by the scientific community. Not all will agree
on the same outcome.
Paper Requirements Your paper must meet the following content and formatting requirements for a grade of at least a C:
A minimum of 6 pages or 1,200 words (maximum of 2,000 words)
Proper MLA citation format
A works cited page with at least 6 sources
Sufficient use of each of your sources in the paper
MLA citations used properly for both quotes and summaries
A complete Introduction and a complete Conclusion
A clear thesis statement
Well-reasoned support and justification at every step of the way
Proper page formatting. 12 point Times New Roman, 1 inch margins, double spaced.
Block quotations—when what you are quoting exceeds four typed lines—must be
centered, indented a half-inch, and single spaced.
Refer to Revel/Argument Today: Chapter 14 (Crediting, Quoting, Paraphrasing and Summarizing): 14.1-14.7 Chapter 15 (Using MLA Style): 15.1-15.4
The Key Components of the Argument Based Research Paper
What is an argument based research paper? An argument paper does several things. It
informs and explains a position;
prompts reason rather than emotion — it may be persuasive, but that is not its whole
shows the strength and validity to a side of an argument while presenting the other point
of view fairly;
guides the reader to logical and informed conclusions about an issue;
presents a logical claim based on evidence;
looks at the other side of the argument and counters those arguments;
demonstrates the ability to argue a certain position using valid points with credible
Main Claim — Introduction
The introduction of your argument based research paper should be like any other paper
introduction. It should include
any information that would be helpful for your reader to understand the content of the paper;
a thesis statement that takes a stand on the issue and refutes the opposition.
Refer to Revel/Argument Today, Chapter 3 (Persuading Others): 3.2: Strategy 1: State a Reasonable and Specific Claim (Your Thesis)
Evidence — The Argument
The argument is credible, clear, insightful, and compelling evidence from your research that
supports the thesis, demonstrates that there is a problem, and explores various solutions. The
evidence needs to be strong and can include statistics, facts, examples, and expert testimony.
Refer to: Revel/Argument Today:
• 3.4: Strategy 3: Support Your Claim with Existing Evidence
• Chapter 13 (Research and Discovering): 13.1-13.6
Counterarguments — The Rebuttal
This will include a number of different views from the opposing side of the argument. Make sure
that the counterarguments have plenty of evidence to support them just as the main arguments
When introducing these arguments let the reader know that these are points of view from the
other side of the argument so that your opinions in the paper do not seem indecisive. You can do
this by using phrases like “Those opposed to…” or “The other side of the argument says that…”.
Follow the rebuttal with a paragraph that addresses these oppositions and tells why your side of
the argument is strongest.
Refer to Revel/Argument Today:
Chapter 10 (Commentaries: Arguing about Current Events): 10.4: Microgenre: The Refutation
Planning An Argument
Select a Topic (Note: This first step is not applicable to this assignment, since you’ve been given
a choice of four topics on which to write a paper. However, you may occasionally be asked to
come up with your own writing topic, in which case, you would apply the following guidelines:)
If you are having trouble coming up with a topic, look into current issues that people seem to have strong feelings about. Also, keep these tips in mind when choosing a topic:
Make sure that the topic you choose is one that people have both a favorable and unfavorable view of. For example, no reasonably moral person would disagree that child
abuse is immoral, people shouldn’t murder, or racism is wrong. There must be two valid
sides to the argument.
Choose a topic that you know something about or can easily get an understanding of. This will make understanding the debate easier.
Make sure that you can write objectively on the topic and examine both sides. Students often have trouble doing the rebuttal for subjects they feel passionate about.
Some topics may be off limits for your particular class, so talk to your instructor about your topic choice, and refer to the assignment guidelines.
Take a Position
Once you decide on what you would like to write about, then consider your initial position and
opinion about the issue. Write down any reasons why you feel this way and reasons that others
would think this way as well. Create a position statement, or thesis statement, that clearly states
the issue and at least three main points that support your position.
Refine a Position
Do some research about the issue and what other people’s opinions are about the issue. Figure out
which ideas give the most compelling argument. Determine whether your initial opinion needs to
change based on the evidence that you find to support it. If necessary, rewrite or refine your
position statement to reflect what you have researched.
You must gather supporting evidence to support your position and defend it. Supporting evidence
can take many forms: facts, statistics, testimonies, and predictions. It is important to evaluate the
sources and make sure that it can be checked, backed up, and relied upon.
It is important to lay out your argument and evidence in a way that will make the most sense to the
reader and be the most convincing. Some writers choose to lay out their evidence from most
important to least, and others feel that it is best to lay it out from least important to most. Either
way, make sure that all points of view have ample support. When making arguments, it is important
to avoid fallacies in logic.
Opposing Points of View
It is just as important to have solid facts and evidence for the opposing side as it is your side. This
shows that you have taken into consideration the other opinion. After presenting the other side of
the argument, you may want to point out why your position has the stronger argument.