Paper #2 – Helping to Untangle a Hot Topic
For this argument, you will choose a topic about which our society seems to be lacking
calm and informed discourse. It will be your job to bring reason and concrete evidence
to the discussion.
Rather than attempting to take on the entire topic in only 4-5 pages, you will
answer a key question in the debate. For instance, the discussion related to minimum
wage can become very complex. One element supporters and opponents often point to
is the impact that an increased minimum wage has had on the city of Seattle, offering
very different overviews of the impact. Someone interested in the minimum wage
discussion could become an expert on the related effects in Seattle and craft a thesis
accordingly. All sub-claims would be in support of this focused thesis.
Your paper will be between 4-5 pages (1200-1500 words) and will be submitted in MLA
format with all outside sources cited in your text and listed in a Works Cited list. (You
should utilize a minimum of three outside sources to support your argument.)
The key for success on this paper will be a fair representation of those who have
differing views than your own. If you do not present—and then refute—the most
reasonable views of your opposition, you will not succeed on this assignment, so you
should begin by thoroughly researching oppositional views. You should do so by
consulting sources written by those who actually hold oppositional views, rather
than relying on sources created by individuals or organizations that share your views
and might consciously or unconsciously distort the views of the opposition.
Your topic should be specific enough to ensure that you can explore a single, focused thesis in
a manner that will contribute positively to public discourse. Many of the topics you will explore
are too complex to cover thoroughly in a 4-5 page paper, so you will need to focus on one
specific aspect of the topic to which you can bring clarity. You will need to become an
expert on your topic, giving special attention to those who have written thoughtfully in opposition
to your stance. You will not do well on this paper if you simply provide an emotion-laden
rallying cry to those who already agree with your thesis.
The introduction of your argument will utilize the “They say/I say” format. You will begin by
providing a concise and fair overview of the broad topic, and then move toward the specific
question you are addressing, beginning with your opposition’s perspective. Then you will
provide a clear transition into a presentation of the main sub-claims that you will prove in your
argument. You will conclude the introduction by clearly and precisely presenting your main claim
I. The body of your paper will be organized around the sub-claims of your argument.
Each sub-claim should merit its own section of exploration in which you will provide
concrete and objective evidence that will give the reader sufficient reason for
accepting the sub-claim as true.
II. After you have made the case for your thesis by presenting and supporting your sub-
claims, you will want to consider any objections that someone from the opposition
might raise as they read your argument. Address any potential concerns that have
not already been addressed in the paper. (If all potential objections were addressed
as you presented your sub-claims, then you do can skip to your conclusion.) If you
fail to address any likely concerns or questions, your argument (and grade)
The conclusion will act as your closing argument. Do not introduce any new evidence in the
conclusion (Any evidence central to your argument deserves exploration in the body of the
paper). This is your chance to leave us with a fair and powerful summary of your argument that
we will take with us we re-enter the world.
Content (70 points)
1. Do you introduce and support a clear, argumentative thesis? Does your introduction allow
your reader to enter the paper in a fluid and easy manner?
2. Is your argument comprised of paragraphs that are organized in a logical fashion, each
exploring one (and only one) idea that has been clearly expressed in a topic sentence?
3. Is the tone of your argument reflective of an objective and calm approach to your topic?
4. Have you address all questions or concerns that a reasonable reader might have?
Mechanics (30 points)
5. Have you appropriately identified where you have incorporated the ideas of others into your
text? Has every source in your Works Cited list actually been cited in the paper, either directly in
the prose or with a parenthetical citation? Does every citation in your paper refer to a source on
your Works Cited list? (Flagrant errors in this regard can result in your paper not being graded.)
6. When you have used the words of others, have you presented the quotes appropriately, so
that it is clear to the reader that the words are not yours? (Failure to do so can result in a grade
of 0 and disciplinary action).
7. Is your writing free of mechanical errors? Fundamental errors like run-ons, fragments, comma
splices, and subject-verb agreement errors will make the journey cumbersome for your readers.
Below is an extensive list of topics brainstormed by students in the spring semester that you
might find helpful as you look for a topic. Keep in mind that these are, indeed, at the topic level,
and you would need to research the topic until you found a specific working thesis that could
contribute to the discourse.
border wall/immigration policies
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