The Research Based Essay

Essay 4: The Research Based Essay

Context: Our final essay is your opportunity to take what you’ve learned throughout the course of the semester and apply it on a larger scale. Where previous essays addressed specific questions (summary, rhetorical analysis, comparative analysis, and argument), this essay will build on the process of the argument paper to address a larger question.

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The Research Paper is a well-supported position paper that relies heavily on the research process. In writing this paper, you will

1) choose a topic related to any of the readings we’ve done in class (public education, class, gender, race, technology, etc.)

2) do extensive research on the topic wherein you find multiple supporting texts

3) identify a specific issue concerning your topic and argue solutions to that problem.


The problem: The writer should begin by asking, “What is problematic/thought-provoking about [X] issue?” The problem must be clearly identified and described in sufficient detail. Consider:

What are the parameters of the problem? /What background information is needed to understand the controversy? /What are the causes of the problem? Who is involved? Who is affected? Who is responsible? /What context — social, political, or ethical — best describes the controversy?

In a research paper, it is not unusual that a significant percentage of the essay is devoted to detailing the problem. Examples, illustrations, descriptions and/or anecdotes will help define a writer’s concerns and illustrate a writer’s purpose.

The solution: While a general thesis is expected, specific solution(s) relevant to the problem must be articulated.

Source materials:

In order to help document the problem and support a potential solution, 5-7 outside sources should be consulted, including relevant scholarly articles, books, etc. Be careful not to let these sources dominate the content or the direction of your argument.

Source material should complement your own presentation of the problem and your own solution(s). Use the MLA format for parenthetical references and provide a Works Cited for all source material.

Rhetorical process: This paper must be based on the process of argument, using the following key components: 1) a clear and detailed identification of the problem; 2) a thesis (a one or two-sentence solution to the problem); 3) a thorough explanation of the thesis, including specific details: precise changes recommended, detailed courses of action, etc.; 4) support for the thesis: assertions.

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