mapping the issue

The Rhetorical Situation

For your Issue Proposal, you organized your preexisting knowledge on your issue and sketched a plan for research. You then compiled several sources and summarized their contents for your Annotated Bibliography. For this paper, you will trace the history of your issue and map at least three different positions on it while maintaining your own neutrality.

Before people can make an informed decision on a controversial issue, they must know something about how the controversy has evolved over time and the range of current positions on the issue. To meet this need, major news organizations often inform their readers of public controversies by providing a neutral, unbiased description of an issue’s history and the main arguments made on all sides, and academic organizations often map field-specific controversies in order to provide researchers with an overview of unsettled questions and unsolved problems.

Your audience for this paper will be readers of a (fictitious) online magazine for UTA students that offers analysis and commentary about politics, news, and culture. The content will consist of a map of the controversy surrounding your issue.


Reading, Brainstorming, and Drafting

By this point you should have read several sources that provide background information on your issue and help explain how the controversy reached its current state. Draw from those sources to draft answers to the following questions:
What caused this issue to emerge in the first place?
What have been some of the major turning points in the history of the controversy?
Who is currently interested in the issue and why?
You should generate at least a page of content in this section.

You should also have read several sources that advocate a range of positions on your issue. Do some brainstorming to come up with a list of at least three distinct positions that reasonable people hold.
For each position you’ve listed, draft a description of it by answering the following questions:

What are the main claims of people who advocate this position?
What reasons and evidence do advocates cite to support their claims?
What are the warrants or underlying assumptions of arguments that support this position?
If you describe at least three positions in sufficient detail, you should produce at least a page and a half of content here.

For each position you’ve described, choose a source that advocates for this position and summarize its specific argument.
If you summarize three sources in sufficient detail, you should generate at least a page and a half of content here.

Take two of the positions you’ve described and draft a comparison of them that identifies areas of agreement and disagreement. Also, explain what causes their differences. For example, do they simply have competing interests? Do they focus on different aspects of the issue? Do they draw from different sources of evidence? Do they interpret the same evidence differently?
Then, compare the third position to the previous two, identifying its areas of agreement and disagreement with the first two positions and tracing the causes of its differences.

You should produce at least a page of content in this section.


Putting It All Together

As you prepare a draft that you’ll share with readers, begin with an introduction (which need not be limited to a single paragraph) that accomplishes three goals:

acknowledges what “they say” (see Ch. 1)
provides an “I say” (see Ch. 4)
answers the “so what?” and “who cares?” questions (see Ch. 7)
For this paper, the “they say” is not a view you’re agreeing with or disagreeing with. Rather, it’s simply the conversation surrounding the issue you’ve selected. Begin by summarizing that conversation.

Your “I say” will not be a conventional thesis statement because you’re remaining neutral rather than supporting a position. Instead, your “I say” will simply be a preview of what follows in the body of your paper.

The answer to the “who cares?” question is the UTA student body or at least a sizable portion of it. To answer the “so what?” question, explain to readers why your issue matters to stakeholders.

Once you have an introduction in place, feel free to arrange the content you’ve drafted in whatever way is most effective. One possible arrangement scheme is as follows:

Description of first position
Summary of first source
Description of second position
Summary of second source
Comparison of first and second positions
Description of third position
Summary of third source
Comparison of third position to first two

Choosing an Appropriate Style

You’re writing for publication and for a broad audience of readers you’ve never met, so your style should be more formal than in your Issue Proposal. At the same time, you’re writing for a magazine, not a scholarly journal, so you don’t have to write in stuffy, academic prose.

Make sure you construct coherent paragraphs that include topic sentences and supporting sentences that stay on topic.

The first time you reference a source, introduce it within the body of your text and, if possible, hyperlink to it. If you reference the source again later, just mention the author’s last name. Make sure you enclose any quoted material in quotation marks. Don’t use a formal system (e.g., MLA) for in-text citations because that is not the convention for most online magazines.

You’ll want to stick mostly to Standard English because this is the norm in publishing. Proofread carefully to ensure that your paper reads the way you want it to and that you’ve corrected unintentional errors. The Purdue OWL website ( is a terrific resource for information on standard writing conventions.



Your paper should be no longer than 6 pages — anything beyond that length will be considered a failure to adhere to one of the assignment’s basic requirements. It should be double-spaced, typed in Times New Roman font, with 12 – point character size and one-inch margins all the way around. Your paper should also follow MLA citation and formatting guidelines.

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