Researched Argument

Major Project 3: Researched Argument

25% of course grade, 2300-2600 words

Building on the preliminary research of your reflective annotated bibliographies and elsewhere, our third and final writing project prompts you to construct your own self-directed, exploratory research project. Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the insights and knowledge of these external sources, that is, I ask that you establish your own research perspective by following a critically focused, well-sourced line of inquiry from start to finish. You should by extension synthesize and expand on your existing research in ways that narrow your focus, building toward a prevailing argument that unifies your paper and pays credence to the rhetorical situation of your topic. In the process, I ask that you integrate six or more sources within your paper, at least two of which should be peer-reviewed scholarly articles. These sources should add credible, situationally relevant perspectives to the commentary of your paper, over time illustrating the discourse of your topic as one of current and emergent import.

Bearing in mind our course theme, your paper should therefore grapple with the rising issues at the heart of your chosen topic, drawing attention to these concerns through a tactical mix of source-based commentary, rhetorical analysis, and careful reflection. In this respect, the historical contexts and current affairs of your topic will each offer key sites of inquiry in the broader arc of your researched argument. After all, how else to converge on the exigencies of tomorrow than by virtue of those which mark yesterday and today?

Reflective Annotated Bibliography

Four or more entries, 10% of course grade

Scaffolded into our in-class activities and homework during the research unit, you should combine four reflective annotated bibliographies into a single document for submission. I ask that for each source you complete five tasks: 1) properly format its bibliographic entry; 2) identify several keywords & terminology; 3) produce a summary or précis; 4) write a reflection; and 5) list a series of direct quotes. Please note that your comprehensive RefAnnBib document will be graded on complete/incomplete basis.

Grading Criteria

Argument/Focus (30%): 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?

Organization (20%): 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?

Evidence/Support (15%): 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?

Use of Sources (15%): 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?

Rhetorical Analysis (10%): 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?

Style, Grammar, and Editing (10%): Does your writing contain 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 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?

Reflective Annotated Bibliography (S/U): have you created at least four entries for your accompanying source material? Do your entries consist of the five fully completed sections? Have you demonstrated earnest reflection on the ways in which each of these entries connect to your research?


Comprehensive RefAnnBib due: November 22
Half draft of Researched Argument due: December 6
Final draft of Researched Argument due: December 18

Formatting and Citation Style

MLA Citation