Now that we have read and discussed issues related to several specific topics, you are ready to write a paper in which your goal is to present multiple viewpoints on it and discuss the reasons some people think one way and others think other ways. You goal is not to discover who is “right.” Your goal is to understand the issues that impact how people view this topic. As a class, we will brainstorm specific issues you might address in your paper.
Note: Even though this is the longest paper of the semester, you’ll need to narrow your focus. Even in a 5-page paper, you simply can’t address a large, complex topic like diversity, the environment, or education. I want you to pick an issue that falls within food and water issues. We’ll be reading articles about these topics, though this area is sufficiently broad that you should be able to find an issue that you are interested in. See the end of this sheet for suggestions of issues that fall within the food and water topic.
If nothing appeals to you, you may pick a topic that is present in the outside book you are reading for class.
You must use at least four sources for your essay. If you use sources on the Internet or from texts we have not read, you must attach a photocopy of these materials to your essay. You may not use a paper or portion of a paper that you have written for another course.
Planning and Drafting
This assignment, more than any other this semester, requires careful planning. To a large extent, the success of your paper will depend on how thoroughly and diligently you carry out the writing process. It will be important to map out a schedule for yourself, using the calendar example on page 177 EW as a model. Below are some suggestions for getting started.
1. Restrict your topic to an area of the subject that you can handle in a short paper. State your topic in the form of a question and then decide whether or not you can answer it within the limited scope of your paper. If you tightly restrict your topic, you’ll find that you can construct a much more complete and satisfying paper.
2. Once you’ve focused your topic, collect your evidence from readings in our class and possible other sources, and formulate a preliminary thesis. As you write your draft or outline, test your thesis and, if necessary, modify it as you go. Your instructor will want to see your preliminary thesis statement at this point.
As you can see, you need to complete several preliminary steps before you begin writing in earnest. Between composing your rough draft and your final paper, you’ll need to keep several additional things in mind:
1. Consider your readers. How much do your readers know about your topic? Are they interested in it? Do they have strong opinions about it? Do not assume that your readers have read the sources you have read or that they automatically agree with you.
2. Keep in mind your purpose: to present a multifaceted view of positions on your topic and a discussion of what is salient to those who adopt one point of view over others.
3. Interweave your sources into your paper to substantiate your thesis. Be careful not to rely exclusively on one source. Verify the accuracy of your information and quotations.
4. Make photocopies of your sources because you will be providing them to your instructor with the finished paper.
In documenting your sources please use MLA style. MLA is used widely in the humanities. For examples, see your handbook or the OWL Purdue website.
Be careful not to plagiarize. There are chapters about this in both of your textbooks and we’ll talk about this in class. By the time you are in ENGL 250, the ISUComm Foundation Courses program expects that you fully understand what plagiarism and academic dishonesty are, why they are wrong, and how to avoid them. Papers on which plagiarism or academic dishonesty are detected will be discussed with the Director of ISUComm Foundation Courses and will likely be referred to the Dean of Students Office for further action.
If you use exact words from a source, you must use quotation marks, in-text citations, and a Works Cited page. Also, check to see that you haven’t used too many quotations in the paper; paraphrase or summarize the information instead, and know that these two forms also require in-text citations coordinating with an entry on the Works Cited page. Your instructor will check your use of sources against the sources themselves that you have provided. Failure to provide photocopies of the required sources (materials you have summarized, paraphrased, or quoted directly in your paper) will result in an automatic “Needs Work” on both the Substance and the Delivery portions of the rubric for this paper.
Since this is your last out-of-class essay (except for the revision paper), you will want to demonstrate that you can successfully employ all the strategies and techniques we’ve talked about in the course. Some of them are listed below: