Argumental Essay

Argumental Essay

Purpose:  These assignments are connected to one another.  First, you will select an ethical dilemma, or a topic on which opinion is divided, that is pertinent either

to your major or to your prospective profession* (or both).  You will produce an annotated bibliography and paper proposal on that issue for assignment #2.  For

Assignment #3, you will use the sources in that bibliography, along with any others you deem useful, to write a thesis-driven essay advocating a particular position on

and action to be taken regarding the issue.

More on Assignment #2

An annotated bibliography is a summary of the contents of the sources on a selected topic arranged alphabetically by author.  Each citation must be formatted according

to MLA guidelines.  Following each citation, you will have two comments:  an objective and non-evaluative synopsis of the source, and then a paragraph-long critique of

the source.

To synopsize, first read through the source to understand its central idea and the relationship of its supporting parts.  Next, in your own words, produce a thorough

yet succinct paragraph that concisely and accurately captures the governing idea of the source and the main points that support it.  In essence, do an informative

summary that contains all of the essential information—and only that information.

The critique will follow the synopsis in a paragraph of its own.  In this paragraph, you should primarily focus on discussing HOW you anticipate using the source in

your essay.  In other words, how does the source inform where you believe your paper is heading?  Does it help you to establish the context for the debate/issue?

Support your position?  Provide a counterargument that you can then refute?  You should also say something about the credibility (or lack thereof) of the source—that

is, about what makes it a persuasive source for an academic essay.

Your final version of the annotated bibliography should be six pages in length, covering 10-12 sources.

Your proposal for your argument-driven research paper should be three paragraphs long.  In the first paragraph, you will introduce your research paper topic and

provide some historical/cultural context for it.  Your goal in this paragraph is to interest your reader in the issue.  In the second paragraph, you should describe

what you think your argument on this topic might be.  Include a tentative thesis in this paragraph.  Of course, you will probably revise your thesis — and maybe your

entire approach to the subject — several times, but this is an important first step in focusing your argument.  In your third and final paragraph, you should mention,

explain, and refute at least one counterargument, since you will need to do that in the finished paper as well.

More on Assignment #3

Write a thesis-driven essay that argues in favor of a particular attitude toward and/or solution to the ethical dilemma on which you are focusing.  You will need to

explain the dilemma, drawing on your sources to examine, with sufficient complexity, whatever social and technical information your audience needs to understand it.

But because this is an argument-driven essay, you will also need to take a stand by articulating either what attitude should be taken toward this issue and/or how and

by whom it ought to be addressed.  For example, if you are writing a paper about the influence of pharmaceutical companies on physicians, you should assert whether or

not the problem needs to be addressed, how, and who is responsible for doing so (pharmaceutical companies?  Physicians themselves?  Professional organizations such as

the American Medical Association?)

If the problem is too new, insufficiently investigated, or otherwise not developed enough to allow you to suggest specific methods for addressing it, then your task

changes.  In that case, your essay will first explain the problem, and then discuss a) the limits of our current knowledge about the issue, and b) pinpoint aspects of

the problem that, in your view, require further exploration.  Note that you will still be expected to make an argument:  in this case, you might argue that the issue

needs to be taken more seriously and suggest specific ways to accomplish that goal.

Your final draft must be ten pages in length.

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