Argumentative Research

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 3A: Research Essay Project


Now it’s time to embark on the research study you’ve prepared for in Project 2.  In Project 2, you learned how to craft a personalized research process to help you “read in” to a topic that interests you. It is time to take those research skills and put them to use in building persuasive arguments about your topic, targeted to a specific audience. You will compose a researched argument essay, using the argument types outlined in our reading (definition, evaluation, causal, rebuttal, proposal). The objective of this paper is to present the findings from your research, composing an argument about the issue you’ve identified within the topic you studied. You will present your argument in two related projects – the Research Essay Project, and the Infographic Project. These two projects will draw on the same body of research, but will use different genres to present your findings. For this project (Project 3A), you will be focusing on writing in an academic tone and style, developing your ethos as researchers by practicing using an “academic voice” to respond to or join the conversation you see happening. In Project 3B, you will focus on using elements of visual rhetoric and argumentation.

To help develop your understanding of academic discourse, you will use a technique called genre analysis to examine publications in undergraduate research journals. These journals serve as places for students like you to publish their research and participate in a particular conversation…one that you will join.

As your instructor, I will use this assignment to assess your achievement across the following goals:

  1. To have composed a paper that is appropriate for submission to a real-life academic forum, such as an undergraduate research journal, or even the Rushton Conference here at WSU.
  2. To be practicing the research strategies you’ve developed in Project 2—posing research questions, figuring out where to look to find the answers we seek, locating and evaluating scholarly and popular sources, reading the conversation (figuring out who’s saying what about your topic, where are there gaps? are scholars not talking about something? what’s missing?) and figuring out how you can contribute.

Assignment Prompt

Your final paper should make the reader feel like the argument you are making is reasonable and persuasive, supported by research-based evidence (a reason it is very important to be strategic with your choice and use of sources, to keep excellent notes on rhetorical analysis of sources, and to sketch out the conversation accurately).

You will integrate data gathered through your research into the conversation that you have already begun to identify in your I-Search project. You will further your knowledge by adding at least 4 new sources to your works cited list (2 scholarly, 2 popular, and any other applicable sources needed).

In order to successfully complete this essay assignment, you will need to:

  • Make a claim that is based on the argument types we read about in FIAW (definition, evaluation, causal, rebuttal, proposal).
  • Support your claim throughout your essay with examples and evidence gathered through your research methods.
  • Identify and clearly target a specific academic audience with your writing, considering whether that audience is comprised of insiders or outsiders relative to your community of observation.
  • Your essay should also address the purpose you stated in your I-Search project, and the results of your research investigations. Did you find what you expected? Why or why not?
  • Conclude with avenues for further pursuit: is there an issue or tension you’ve discovered that needs to be further explored? A change you think should be made? More research that needs to be conducted to further pursue your questions?

Minimum Requirements (what you’ll turn in)

  • 2000-2500 word Final Researched Argument Essay (plus Works Cited)
  • MLA Format
  • Total of 7 secondary sources (3 from the I-Search plus at least 2 additional scholarly sources, 2 popular sources, and any other applicable sources needed)
  • 300-500 word Reflection Letter written to the audience of your choice and addressing the following questions:
    • what was positive and negative about the process of composing Project 3a?
    • what Course Learning Outcome did you grow in the most?
    • what is the area of Project 3a that you feel proudest of? Why?

Learning Outcomes


  • Use key course concepts (genre and rhetoric) to write effectively
    • You’ll practice demonstrating an understanding of the features of academic research writing and demonstrating appropriate use of rhetorical strategies for academic research writing
  • Use a flexible writing process that includes brainstorming/inventing ideas, planning, drafting, giving and receiving feedback, revising, editing, and publishing.
    • You’ll practice working through brainstorming, drafting, response, reflection, and revision activities in class and for homework to develop ideas and refine your writing


  • Use reading strategies in order to identify, analyze, evaluate, and respond to arguments, rhetorical elements and genre conventions in college-level texts and other media.
    • You’ll practice reading, analyzing, evaluating, and responding to sources, thinking about how they provide information and perspectives integral to a discussion of the topic.


  • Conduct research by finding and evaluating print, electronic, and other sources;
    • You’ll practice using the library databases to identify relevant and sufficient resources for the project.
  • Generate information and ideas from research;
    • You’ll practice articulating the conversation (be able to present a brief review of the literature), formulating a response to the conversation, articulating stance or argument
    • You’ll practice summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting relevant information from sources.
  • Appropriately integrate material from sources.
    • You’ll practice using MLA format to integrate in-text citations and a works cited page.
    • You’ll practice using academic writing conventions for introducing sources material and linking back to writer’s argument


  • Use written reflection to plan, monitor, and evaluate one’s own learning and writing.
    • You’ll practice using reflection to articulate prior knowledge and knowledge gaps in order to form research questions.
    • You’ll practice using post-project reflection to evaluate your research and writing process.

Argumentative Research Paper Rubric





Needs Revision




Introduction (20)

Does the beginning of the essay introduce the topic according to the conventions of the genre?

Does the introduction explain what the essay will do, how, and why?

Does the beginning of the essay introduce or foreshadow the paper’s argumentative claim? (“I argue that…”)

Body (80)

Is there an appropriate use of secondary sources – including at least 3 scholarly sources – to develop a sense of the conversation surrounding the topic?

Within the paragraphs, are the sources used appropriately as evidence to support the main claim?

Does the paper effectively employ a range of rhetorical techniques to support its main claim?

Do the paragraphs work together to construct the overall argument?

Conclusion (25)

Does the writer include an explanation/summary of what s/he argued in this paper, why the argument is credible, and why it matters?

Are conclusions developed logically from the evidence and information discovered through research?

Formatting (title, margins, spacing, font, page numbers, indentation) (15)

Does the writer properly introduce and integrate sources using MLA citation? Does the format of the paper follow MLA standards?

Organization (20)

Does the essay contain focus, developed, and coherent paragraphs?

Do transitions between paragraphs connect ideas? Are narrative transitions used when appropriate?

Clear and Effective Writing (20)

Are sentences clear and coherent?

Does the essay display minimal error?

Is the vocabulary, style, and tone used appropriate to the subject being explored?

Reflection (20)

Includes Reflection?

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