Composition 100  Fall 2004

Argumentation Essay Assignment
16% of total grade

First Draft is due Tues. April 19
Final Draft due Tues. May 10

Arguments focus on issues about which there is some debate; if there is no debate, there is no argument. For this essay, you will need to choose an issue, argue a position, and support it with evidence. You must present a convincing, reasonable, well-researched, and persuasive argument on a controversial topic. Assume you are writing for a hostile or wavering audience.

This essay will require you to do considerable research. You will be graded on the quality of your choice of sources, as well as on your citation style.

Your paper is expected to do the following:

  • Take a clear stance on the issue.

  • Appeal to and respect your audience -- avoid insulting, loaded language.

  • Avoids using the personal pronoun "I" or the second person pronoun "you."

  • Acknowledge opposing views.

  • Provide credible evidence to support your stance.

  • Include a bibliography of six carefully selected sources of information.

Topic Selection

Select your topic from one of the following places. If you would like to write about a topic not included in any of these places, you must get your topic approved by me before Thursday, April 14.

  1. Research Paper and Argument Topic Ideas
  2. CQ Researcher. A print version of this magazine can be found in the reference room of the library under the call number REF H1 .E4.
  4. Opposing Viewpoints

Please do not use the following topics:

abortion | gun control | legalization of marijuana | capital punishment |  steroid use

Assignment Process

  1. Write a thesis statement that takes a clear position.
  2. Collect data to support your position using library databases, books, and the Internet.
  3. Create an outline of your arguments. Use this Persuasive Essay Outline as a model for your essay.
  4. Support your topic with facts, statistics, examples, and expert testimony.
  5. Make a list of the possible arguments your readers might raise against you. Think of ways in which you can respond to those objections in a reasonable manner and explain why the reader should find your overall argument more persuasive.
  6. Convey an appropriate tone. Avoid sounding illogical, self-righteous, condescending, confrontational, vengeful, or overly-judgmental.
  7. Avoid logical fallacies.
  8. Conclude the essay in an effective way--by summarizing major points, calling for action, and/or looking to the future of this issue. Repeat or restate your thesis. Drive home the importance of your argument, and make sure that your conclusion is the strongest, most dynamic part of your paper by stressing the importance of the argument you have made.
  9. Avoid run-on sentences, fragments, comma splices, parallelism problems, dangling modifiers, missing commas, and other grammar problems.

Research Component

You must conduct research to locate periodical articles, a book, and web sites on your topic. You will use these as the sources for your essay. Your essay must include a works cited page with six sources written in MLA format. These sources must include:

  1. At least two periodical article from an online database such as Expanded Academic Index or LexisNexis.
  2. Two web pages from authoritative sources with substantial information on your topic.
  3. A statistical source which can be either a book from the library or a web site from an authoritative source. (Reliable sources for statistics can be found on this web page.)
  4. One book or other traditional source.

Research Log & Reflective Essay

You will be required to write a 2-page reflective essay on the process of researching this essay. In order to keep track of the steps in your process, use a Research Log.


Read the following for guidelines on constructing and writing effective arguments:

Sample Student Argumentation Essays:


Length 1800 words, approximately six typewritten pages (not including the works cited). Papers must be computer-generated and double-spaced. Title your essay. Your name, course and section number should appear at the top of the first page. Follow this MS Word format, but make the margins 1" all around.