Write a persuasive essay of 1,200-1,500 words in which you will try to persuade your reader to accept your point of view on a controversial subject that matters to you and that is both current and relevant.
Make sure you choose a topic that is debatable. For example, the statement, “We must eliminate all child abuse from society” is not debatable. No one is likely to take a stand for child abuse. As well, make sure your topic has two clear sides to it. The legalization of marijuana is a good topic because one could develop a good argument for either perspective: the Canadian government made a good decision when it legalized pot OR the Canadian government made a mistake when it legalized pot.
Once you have chosen your topic, visit the library and research both sides of the argument. After analyzing your material, choose a side: your stand on this issue will become your thesis.
Keep in mind that a research paper follows the same writing process as any other writing: thinking, organizing, writing, and revising. However, instead of relying entirely on yourself for ideas, you use other sources to help you develop your ideas and support your arguments. Nonetheless, it is your paper, and your voice should be in control. Avoid the temptation to pile up quotes; sources should clearly support your idea.
To help you with your research, Kate Cushon, a librarian at the John Archer Library, has offered to create video tutorials which I will post to UR Courses.
You may of course use Google to help you with your research, but you will also be expected to use the library resources (on-line).
NOTE: You must use at least five sources; a minimum of three of these will consist of newspaper or magazine articles, essays published in scholarly journals, or books that you locate in your library research. If you do use the internet, please avoid factually untrustworthy sites.
In, developing support for your argument, remember to consider the opposing viewpoints. Qualify or refute these points, depending on their validity. (Refer to pages 88-89 on “Quoting Opposing Views” and pages 97-99 on “Anticipate Objections” and “Build Common Ground.” in Rules for writers).
Pay attention to your tone. You are likely to have strong opinions, and you may well be better informed on the topic than your reader(s); however, you never want to talk down to your reader or adopt a sarcastic tone. The best way to move your reader is to show respect for her or him by presenting a strong, clear argument.
Remember, thinking is messy and often redundant; thus, before, during, and after your research, you will want to work on refining your topic and your thesis; thus, re-writing at all stages of the writing process is essential.
Make sure you refer to the Essay-Writing Guidelines hand-out on UR Courses.
Follow the MLA format--See pages 418-476 in your Rules for Writers text; as well, see pages 468-476 for an example essay.
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