Research Essay Prompt
This is the major paper and assignment for 102. While working on this, we’ll develop our research, planning, interpreting, and writing skills.
Due Date: Outline Due June 7; Final Draft Due June 17
Length: 2200-2500 words (not including the Works Cited page)
Grading: 40% of the final grade, 200 pts.
You’ve worked on your ability to understand and interpret academic texts. You’ve developed your own line of academic inquiry, researched it, refined it, and developed it into your own arguments and ideas supported by sources. Now we’re putting it all together.
At this point—after the Project Proposal and Annotated Bib—you should be able to provide a pretty detailed account of where you’re taking this paper. Make sure you have a clear thesis statement and that this thesis statement is making an argument. You’re taking a stand on something. Be ambitious. Don’t argue something unnecessary, redundant, or obvious (“People are different around the world.” “America is a diverse place.”). Go for the new (“The Seattle of 2050 will look different in surprising ways.” “Ethiopian politics are fundamentally reshaping how Ethiopians envision their future.” “While largely invisible, support organizations for the elderly are vital to community health in rural areas of Japan.”) These aren’t perfect examples, but they illustrate the kind of ambitious and surprising thinking and arguing your thesis should convey.
Create an outline. This will help you understand how your ideas stack and build on each other, where your sources fit in to support your arguments, and how you’ll arrange the parts of your paper to build toward an ending. Not outlining could lead to an unorganized blob of text. We’ll work on this in class. With a paper of this size, outlining is an absolutely crucial step. Even if you’ve never outlined a paper before, do it now. The outline will be due by 11:59 PM on June 7.
When you have your outline, begin writing. Keep writing. The length of this may be intimidating, but if you’ve chosen your topic carefully, done your research, put thought into your proposal, and carefully crafted your outline, this should be the easiest part of the assignment.
Your paper must include a minimum of eight sources. At least three of those must be from peer-reviewed, scholarly articles. If you’ve put work into the Annotated Bibliography, this should be very easy. Make sure your sources are used in such a way that they are adding to the argument and not simply being used for the sake of being used.
Your essays together should be 2200-2500 words, 12 pt. font, Times New Roman, double-spaced with standard one-inch margins. Please upload the file (doc, docx, or rtf) to the appropriate drop box by 11:59 PM on June 17. Then go celebrate.
Focus: The essay is making a clear argument that is new, interesting, and not obvious.
Organization: The essay has a clear structure and organization, both in terms of the physical paper and the arguments.
Development: The argument is supported by specific ideas, discussions, and persuasions. Sources are used well and specifically as supports for the writer’s main argument.
Sources: The essay uses at least eight sources in ways that are effective and useful to the overall argument.
Grammar and Syntax: The writing is at the appropriate college level. Sentences are clear and varied. Word choice is at the academic level without losing any clarity. The writing also considers the audience for the essay.
Correctness and Formatting: The essay is free of errors and is formatted correctly according to the prompt and MLA. The essay has clearly been edited, revised, and honed. The Works Cited page and in-text citations are correctly formatted.
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