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ENGL 120 AC - Drisdell  

Last Updated: Nov 29, 2016 URL: Print Guide

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Argument Research Paper Preview (assignment #5)

Due dates: Wednesday Dec. 2: Final reflection, annotated bibliography, and paragraph with works cited due. You may also present your arguments as a panel (citing your sources)! No late projects!                                                                                                       


  • One page reflection about research process, reading articles, using quotes
  • One paragraph statement of your position and reasoning on the issue – including a quote and two paraphrases, cited according to MLA style, and counter argument(s). Please include a Works Cited page.
  • An annotated bibliography: Your annotated bibliography should include citations, summary and a couple sentences of reflection about how the information could be used in a research essay.

You must include an annotated bibliography that has 5 sources (it is a working document that should be included with your drafts—not something that needs to look pretty, but something that should help you keep ideas from research straight).                      

Your task:

Write an abstract for a formal argument essay that grows out of genuine inquiry and supports your perspective on the issue for ONE of the topics below (or that we come up with in class), using research and evidence to support each of your claims.

In addition to making strong arguments in favor of your perspective, you will need to rebut (or argue against) at least one of the arguments that come up in your research but that you disagree with.  In a rebuttal, you show that the other side’s argument is not a strong, logical, compelling, useful argument.  Often, the “rebuttal” paragraph in the essay is either the first or last body paragraph, and begins with an “although” statement.  You will mention one counterargument in your abstract.


A thesis statement for an argument essay often takes a stand using the word “should” (“Congress should pass the DREAM act because…” or “Marijuana should not be legalized for recreational use because….”) or uses another structure of language to make an argument. Your project needs to do more than present both sides.

You will need to do research so you can have authoritative sources and data to support every part of your argument. To help in gathering research and finding the strongest evidence, you will work with a group of other students to assemble, summarize and present information on all sides of the issue you select.  Then you will write your own abstract (this is not a group writing project) after you each individually have decided on your own perspective or answer.

Potential Argument Topics (we will choose topics and groups in class):

  1. FTND and recently a bunch of billboards popped up in the bay area. What’s the effect of porn on relationships and modern society? Is porn “the new drug,” destroying families and our ability to find love? Research addiction rates and its effect on the brain and relationships from authoritative sources.
  2. Drug courts and non-custodial sentencing: California has “realigned” its prison system, and sends some criminals to treatment programs. What’s working and what needs to change? Use authoritative, reliable sources like the Public Policy Institute of California (and other library resources).
  3. Minimum wage:  Should the US government raise the minimum wage? Who would this affect, and who counts more? *Use historical data and essays about the historical effects to make your argument for the best way forward. You can often find references or links to academic references in newspaper articles.


Step One: Decide which issue you want to learn and write about.  Form working groups and talk about what you know, what perspectives you have at the outset.

Step Two: Gather research for all sides of the issue (in the real world, there are almost always more than two sides).  See the library page for how to get started with a good online database, and use the tools you learned about in the library orientation.  

Step Three: Work with a group of other students to read articles, assemble and summarize the most important concerns and strongest arguments for issue, as well as one or more rebuttals.  You should be building your annotated bibliography here. Your group will present claims from all sides of the issue before presenting your own ideas and answers.

Step Four: Decide on your perspective on the issue, which you want to argue for in your paragraph-long abstract.  Your paper needs to take ONE position and argue for ONE side of the issue.  You must also have one rebuttal of another side’s argument (which can lead into one of the arguments on your own side or come after).

Step Five: Remember to cite your sources properly and include the Works Cited list at the end. Reread your summaries and go back over important texts to make sure you are accurately conveying information and getting summaries right. Sometimes, this is a good time to do a little more research (if you find that the articles you have don’t give you enough to form your own perspective).

Step Six: Revise, proofread and turn in your final project. Again, sometimes this requires going back to the reading and/or more research to find more reading.

Finding the Research:

We will have an orientation with a librarian so you can learn about how to search the college’s online databases to find strong sources.  Start with the databases – not with google!

Also, be sure to work with our librarians and other students in your research group to share the articles and reports that you find.


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