Researched Argument

35% of course grade / 2300-2600 words

In your final major project for the course, you will first formulate a guiding question or hypothesis about a series of determinant factors that work to divert, limit, or enable the possible futures of a self-chosen topic. In doing so, your researched argument should explore and critique why a given state of affairs poses a problem or presents an opportunity for the near and distant trajectory of your topic. You’ll draw on a diverse range of perspectives to substantiate your argument, which should concern not only questions of the emergent future, but also how certain factors, or drivers, limit the way in which we think about the possibility of change when we imagine such futures — elsewhere known as our “horizon of possibility.”

You’ll incorporate 5-6 sources into your writing, two of which must be peer reviewed, ultimately posing a research-driven thesis about one or more exigencies at stake in the trajectory of your topic. Your paper should make space to analyze the specific ways in which the predominant discourse of your topic defines how and why we think about the future of its subject matter in the ways that we do. In turn, the culmination of your paper may present an alternative to the status quo, making a case for how we might collectively begin to imagine as of yet unforeseen possibilities available to the future of your topic.

Reflective Annotated Bibliography 

Scaffolded into our in-class activities and homework during the research unit, the reflective annotated bibliography (RefAnnBib) will involve a total of 4-6 MLA entries, each of which should be accurately cited, alphabetized, and enclosed with a one-page reflection. For these reflections, you will summarize the main argument and key terms of the source, evaluate its relationship to other sources in your RefAnnBib, as well as describe how its subject matter relates to the broader arc of your researched argument.


Thesis/Focus: Does your piece have a focused sense of urgency? Does your paper contain an argumentative through-line from start to finish? Has your thesis presented an arguable statement that is the result of your writing, reading, and thinking about your topic? Does your thesis begin to answer a question you formulate about the possible futures of your self-chosen topic without relying on absolutist language? (30% of grade)

Organization: Do you organize your paragraphs in such a way that your readers can clearly follow your main argument? Can your readers easily follow how you develop and support that argument in each paragraph? Do you coherently integrate analytical positions and outside information in ways that frame your argument in the manner of a narrative arc? Do you use a new paragraph when you “switch gears” to a new subject? Do you use topic sentences and approach each individual paragraph as its own argumentative unit? Do you use transition words and phrases to frame a roadmap to your reader of where you’re going next? (20% of grade)

Evidence/Support: Have you provided rhetorically persuasive reasons and evidence to support your thesis, drawn from sources that will be credible to your intended audience? Have you supported your analysis with specific textual evidence without “padding” your paper? Have you meaningfully synthesized analytical positions based on the combination of textual evidence and credible source materials? (15% of grade)

Use of Sources: Do you summarize, paraphrase, and quote directly in syntactically sophisticated and ethical ways from the sources you’ve used for your research (at least 4 sources, at least 2 of which must be peer-reviewed, academic sources)? Do your sources represent a diversity of perspectives, including opposing or counterfactual opinions? Are your sources credible to those you identify as your audience?  (15% of grade)

Rhetorical Analysis: Do you compose with an awareness of the rhetorical situation? Do you demonstrate engagement with constituent elements of that rhetorical situation, including its audience, constraints, exigence, genre conventions, and mediums? Does your paper analyze the specific ways in which the predominant discourse of your topic limits how and why we think about the future of its subject matter in the ways that we do? (10% of grade)

Style/Mechanics: Does your writing contains few if any “to be” verbs? Does your writing style exemplify concise and compelling written expressions that drive your reader forward with rhetorical momentum? Is your syntax is crisp and clear? Do you accord with the conventions of grammar, punctuation, and use? Does the grammatical logic of your writing reinforce the content of your message? Have you carefully edited and proofread your final draft so that your writing signifies “Standard Academic Written English” to your audience? (10% of grade)

RefAnnBib: have you successfully created at least four entries for your accompanying source material? Are two of those sources peer reviewed? Have you demonstrated earnest reflection on the ways in which each of these entries connect to your prospective research? (10% of grade)


  • Rough draft of Researched Argument due: December 1
  • Revised draft of Researched Argument due: December 8-11