A Debatable Topic

ENGL 1301 – All Sections
Spring 2021 – First 8-Weeks

Professor John Purcell

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Research Project Assignment

Students, this assignment is the biggie. It is worth 20% of your over-all course grade, so treat it with the respect that it is due. Everything in the class leads up to this essay, so now here is all the information you need to know.


If you haven’t chosen a research topic yet, choose a research topic that is debatable, meaning that there is more than one viewpoint on the subject, such as whether or not intelligent design should be taught in American public schools. Your paper should give a brief overview or definition of your topic, put it in either historical or cultural perspective, and then you must take a stance and defend your stance using concrete, specific evidence to support yourself. Anticipating an opposing viewpoint and refuting it in your paper is also needed to present your argument.

• 6-8 pages, double-spaced (at least 1500 words, but not more than 2000 words)
• Computer-generated or typed, size 12 font, either Times New Roman, Ariel, or Tahoma
• Cover page needed ( title, your name, class and section, date); illustration optional
• Clearly stated thesis/controlling idea
• Appeal to your reader through rational, emotional, ethical discussion
• Use refutation (bringing in opposing viewpoint to strengthen your stance)
• Specific, sufficient, and relevant supporting evidence
• Use MLA in-text citation format: example (Purcell 213)
• A separate Works Cited page that lists at least 8 sources [10 sources is preferred]:
** use a mixture of print (books, journals, newspapers, etc.) and web sources (e-book, e- journal, online documents, websites)**
You may use student-generated surveys, questionnaires, interviews
• Write succinctly and as grammatically correct as possible!

Note: If you plan on using graphics – tables, charts, pictures – in your paper, if they are a quarter-page in size, you can include them in the text. Otherwise, place them in an Appendix at the end of your paper after the Works Cited page.

Some Suggested topics for the research essay:

Alternative Energy Sources (Wind, Solar, Wave, Nuclear)
Death Penalty/Capital Punishment
Electric Cars: the way of the future or not?
Eliminating the Electoral College
Environmental Issues (preserving wetlands, oil drilling on federal land, etc.)
Fracking – pro or con
Legalization of marijuana – medical or recreational
Legalization of same sex marriage
Light rail system in Texas
Paying college athletes
PED (Performance Enhancing Drugs) usage in professional sports
Physician assisted suicide
Prayer in public schools
Random drug testing in high school sports
Should intelligent design be taught in public schools?
Space Exploration: Commercial vs. Government
Space Exploration: Yes or No? Manned or Unmanned?
Stem cell research

Subjects that are off the table:

Concealed gun carry on campus. For more information on A Debatable Topic see this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:List_of_controversial_issues

A Debatable Topic

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