Page updated: 21-Aug-2012 02:42 AM

Writing Assignment:

As we have discussed in class, the research essay that you will write involves researching some controversial issue.  Called a controversial essay, this writing project must present the various sides of the issue into which you have chosen to conduct an in-depth study.  Issues always have at least two sides, but yours may have more.

Additionally, you must take a stand in support of one side of the issue and explain why you support that point of view.  Your position must be reflected in the thesis statement of this paper.

Structuring the Essay:

As you build the body of the essay, organize your material around the major relevant claims that are central to your issue.  For example, if your issue focuses on whether the US Food and Drug Administration should ban the testing of new cosmetic products on cats' eyes to be sure the chemicals are safe for humans, then you need to have some claims to support your position on this ban.  Naturally cosmetic manufacturers need to be certain that the chemicals are safe, for they do not want to risk lawsuits over products that blind the users or burn the skin off of a woman's lips.  Therefore, these cosmetics companies will have some reasons for arguing why it is better to test their products on cats rather than on human subjects.  Your job is not only to find out what these opposing reasons are but also to acknowledge these arguments in favor of testing cats and then refute them.  If cosmetics companies claim that the life of a cat is less valuable than that of a human test subject, what kind of a response can you come up with?  You may not find easy answers in your research of your own position, so you will need to find your own answer to the opposition's objection to banning the testing of cats. 

Moreover, your essay should address the major claims in favor of banning the testing of cats as well as the major reasons why the other side believes it is necessary to use cats in the testing process.

You will need to think about how you will arrange the information you find.  How you present the issue to your audience is the most important part of writing this controversial essay.  I cannot emphasize enough the need to create an outline for yourself of how you want the essay to flow--even if you typically are not an outliner in the process of writing your essays.  A paper this large and complex needs a map for you to follow, and ultimately it will indirectly aid others because the outline will give you a clear organization purpose.

One way to arrange your material is in two sections: the first could be all the reasons you support the banning of cat testing, then the next section could detail the major objections to this proposal along with your refutations of these objections.

Another way to arrange your material is to use a point-by-point method.  Try to match up the major reasons of support with the opposition's objections.  You may not find perfect matches, however.  If you choose this method of presenting your arguments, it is better to explain first what one (1) of the opposing view's objections is and then counter it with your own ideas.  Then continue addressing a new objection in a separate paragraph.  Once you have covered all the major objections, you can move on to all the new reasons in support of banning cat testing that you did not cover by refuting opposing point of view.

Consequently, without a careful outline that maps out what you want say, you will end up with a bunch of jumbled together ideas that will likely lead the reader to confusion.  So, plan this part of your controversial essay carefully and thoughtfully.

Finally, don't forget that this essay is just like all the other ones in that you still need an introduction, main body and a conclusion.  You can use the same techniques for hooking the reader and for writing the conclusion as we've discussed with the other essays.  The only difference is that this paper is longer, and you should be much better at incorporating other writers' ideas into your essay.


Page length: Your essay must be between 6-8 double-spaced pages (plus an additional page of the works you have cited).
Writing mode: analytical/expository.
Audience: adults/college students; assume your audience knows nothing about the subject.
Purpose: to explain, to analyze, and to argue for a position of the issue at hand.
SAE: Remember, your paper must follow the basic conventions of Standard American written English (correct mechanics, usage, grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, and so forth).

REMINDER:  This essay must be written in the third person, so you may not use the second person (you/your) at all in this assignment.  Be sure to use the present tense whenever you discuss what authors of outside sources say.  Also, make sure you introduce the author and title of any outside sources in the correct manner.

USING OUTSIDE (SECONDARY) SOURCES: This paper requires that you cite between 6 and 8 outside (secondary) sources.  A maximum of 2 outside sources may be from the Internet (in the form of web sites or web pages).  At least 4 resources must be print-based and college-level, meaning encyclopedia entries and book reviews are not acceptable sources.  An on-line periodical that has a pre-existing print version can count as a print-based source.  Consequently, you must use the MLA in-text parenthetical citation method and add a Works Cited page at the end of your essay.  You should use these outside references to support your own claims and to represent the opposing point of view.  You must attach to your essay a xeroxed copy of all your sources.