Topic Proposal Assignment
Now that you have at least a rough idea of the topic for your researched argument paper, I want to give you a chance to do some preliminary research to better understand the conversation surrounding your particular topic/argument. Further, this assignment should allow you to explore what you already believe and/or know to be true about your topic, consider how you’ll support your argument with evidence, explore some new ideas from your research, and articulate any questions that you have at the start.
- Using the open web (Google), Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Points of View Reference Center, find at least two strong, representative articles that are pertinent to your topic (not just the first couple sources you happen to find). Print them. This is the beginning of your research!
- Read and highlight/annotate both articles (bring them to class next time we meet). Think rhetorically while you read them – ask yourself how effectively the authors of the articles communicate their ideas and arguments. Identify and mark evidence and examples you might want to use in your own paper.
- Compose your proposal, working to answer all of the following questions (I suggest you spend one short paragraph on each set):
a.What question do you hope your research will help you answer? (For instance, are grades a fair way to measure learning? Or, how should elementary schools better support healthy choices for kids?) Do you have an idea of your answer? (It’s okay if you’re not sure yet!) What steps did you take to arrive at this topic? What is your personal connection to it?
b.What kinds of reasons might support your claim? And what kind of evidence will best support your reasons? What kind of research will you need to find to help you succeed at making your argument? What would your ideal sources look like?
c.Who do you think would be the main audience for your argument? Who are the stakeholders? How do you know?
d.Briefly describe your research process so far. Which search terms have you used? (list them) Which websites/publications? How did you evaluate their credibility? Introduce your two sources (authors and titles) and summarize their main arguments. Integrate at least one short quotation from each. In what way are these representative of the kind of research you’d like to find to support your argument? How and why would they function effectively as evidence?
e.What might opponents say in response to your argument? How will you respond to them? What else might pose challenges with your topic?
f.What questions do you have about your topic? What is puzzling or unknown? What would you like to discover over the course of this assignment?
- Length: two full pages
- Please use your own voice – use first person (“I”) as much as you need to.
- Address all of the above questions, provide examples, and be as specific as possible.
- Use this as an opportunity to practice integrating quotations. The first time you mention an author, use his/her full name in your sentence. Once you’ve done that, you can use his/her last name in either your sentence OR in the parenthetical citation that follows it.
- Organize your information into clear, cohesive, developed paragraphs (not a numbered list). Feel free to answer each set of questions in their own paragraph.
- Use the MLA formatting requirements discussed in class (four-part heading, 12-pt. Times New Roman font, double-space, one-inch margins, no “extra” spaces, etc). You do not need to include a Works Cited page for this paper since you’re turning in copies of the sources.
- Of course, follow directions, but don’t worry about “right” and “wrong” – just get your ideas on paper.
Example 1 (open web source, one author whose name is IN your sentence):
Annie Johnson contends that writing a researched argument is “a valuable skill.”
Example 2 (open web source, two authors whose names are NOT in your sentence):
This type of writing fosters “both critical thinking and problem solving” and allows students “to pursue topics that matter to them” (Johnson and Rogers).
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