This is an outline of the Research Essay Assignment and some of the accompanying smaller assignments. Please see the syllabus for more specific dates and details. Click on the links for specific assignment details and drop boxes.

Objective: Employing what we have learned of argument (evidence, appeals, opposition, etc) and of audience (targeting, rhetorical strategy, tone) to construct a reasonable position argument essay over a controversial topic. Research and document sources employing methodologies recommended by the Modern Language Association (MLA), described in our textbooks and in class.

The Assignment: Persuade an academic audience toward your perspective in a documented position argument. In other words, argue for one central position and support it with research.

Length: 8-12 pages in proper MLA format (The Works Cited page is NOT included in the page length. You should have the minimum number of pages of YOUR text.)

Audience: Satisfying an audience is the objective of this assignment. The objective is to reach your reader. The best method of working that audience toward your ends would be (at the very least) acknowledging the other side and establishing common ground while maintaining a single clear argumentative focus. All of you will have the same core readership: an academic audience. You must think about how you can satisfy and appeal to this audience.

Sources: Use at least four quality sources. Quality will be determined not only on how generally credible and sound a source may be, but how relevant and appropriate that source is for the particular rhetorical situation you have created (i.e. for your audience).

You are welcome to use more than four sources. For example, two of your sources might be academic/scholarly sources which contain a lot of information, but you feel that you need more “everyday” information to round out your paper. You might choose four popular (magazine or newspaper) sources and just use a little from each. This would give you a total of six sources.
All of your sources cannot be of the same type. This means you cannot use all scholarly journal articles, all magazines, or all books. However, you may heavily skew you research toward one type (e.g. three scholarly journal articles and one magazine article). You need to show that you have gotten research from a variety of places in a variety of types.
You must use at least four unique sources: Be sure if you use several articles from the same source type, that the actual publications are different. Example: If you use two magazine articles, they should be from different magazines. Remember, a “source” is defined as “publication”, not “individual article within the main source”.
The employment of sources must clearly be supportive of the overall argument. Sources should be evidence, not the argument itself. If you use a source superficially, it will not be counted as a source used in the paper.
All of the sources need to be derived from non-reference databases from Butler’s library databaseLinks to an external site.s. The “Articles” and “Research Guides” tabs will be the most helpful to you. We will go over this in more depth in the next few weeks. In other words, this paper is based on library research and you should NOT include any websites or reference material.
You must use the sources non-superficially. In other words, you need to include multiple quotes or examples from each source.
You may NOT use reference sources for support. This includes encyclopedias, Issues and Controversies, Pro/Con, Opposing Viewpoints, etc. These sources are meant to help you generate a topic; they are not intended to be used in research papers.
Documentation: As sources are used in the body of the essay, they must be cited appropriately according to MLA documentation guidelines both in-text and on the Works Cited page.

Clarity: All audiences expect a clean reading of a finished paper. Give yours a very good polishing! Also, be sure to use professional language. Delete any first or second person constructions and avoid conversational language.