The research essay assignment is your opportunity to apply all of the persuasive techniques you’ve learned so far in the
course to a comprehensive argument about some aspect of your project idea determined earlier in the course.
This essay will should follow a basic academic structure. You should have an introductory paragraph (or two, if you need
additional set-up) where you introduce your topic and convince your audience that this is a topic worthy of their attention – see the
Academic Writing slideshow for advice on this. This introduction should end with a thesis statement clearly stating the argument that
your essay will make. Here are four examples. The first also incorporates an antithetical argument (see Using Antithetical Arguments
in your Research Essay slideshow). You cannot use any of these specific thesis statements or arguments as the foundation of your
essay, and, as usual, the material in [brackets] shouldn’t appear in a finalized thesis statement:
1) “The Yellow Wallpaper” is usually considered a piece of realistic fiction based entirely on Perkins’s own experience
[opposing side], but it also draws heavily from the conventions of gothic romances [category 1] and ghost stories [category
2]; these conventions help explain why the story has such a powerful effect on readers [explains why the definition
matters]. (definition/ resemblance argument/ literary analysis)
2) An abusive childhood [main cause], especially at the hands of a domineering mother [narrowing of the cause], is one of the
main causes of psychopathy [effect, which in turn becomes a cause], which in rare occasions in turn leads victims to
become serial murderers [final, rarer effect]. (causal argument)
3) It is unethical for professors to complain about students in online environments [sets up right/ wrong judgment], as it
violates a student’s privacy rights, betrays student trust, and threatens fairness in the class [three reasons the action is
wrong]; professors who do so should be disciplined by their employers for mistreating students (ethical argument)
4) Ohio high school students are ill-prepared for college level writing [problem] due to the heavy workloads of high school
English teachers [cause 1] and the high school focus on literary analysis instead of rhetorical analysis [cause 2]. High
schools should give writing-intensive courses more weight when determining an instructor’s course load [solution 1] and
should split classroom time spent learning analysis between fiction and non-fiction texts [solution 2] (problem-solving
If you need to use the first body paragraph to continue setting up your topic, do so. Then the essay should include a series of body
paragraphs exactly following the structure and order of ideas set up in the thesis statement – if an idea is in the thesis statement, it
should have at least one full body paragraph dedicated to it. If a paragraph’s main idea isn’t mentioned in your thesis statement, it
should be directly setting up an idea from the thesis statement – don’t clog up your essay with history, case studies, or random factoids
or statistics if they aren’t directly useful to your essay’s specific argument.
Finally, the essay must include a concluding paragraph where you remind the reader of the topic’s importance and take one
last opportunity to promote your position or viewpoint to the reader. If you feel you need to review main ideas from the essay, do so
quickly (one or two sentences), then focus on explaining why the argument you presented in the essay was worth presenting at all for
the rest of the conclusion.
Your essay must cite at least five credible sources as evidence. At least one must be a book or a chapter/ essay from a
book, and at least one must be from a periodical that exists in print form (an academic journal, magazine, or newspaper,
although you can find the article in electronic form). These sources must be cited according to MLA 2016 format. The essay
should be accompanied by a properly formatted Works Cited page. The essay should be typed in Times New Roman 12 point font and
be double spaced.
Your essay will be graded according to the following rubric:
A: The argument is well-explained and defended with well-chosen sources that meet the requirements in the prompt. The thesis
statement is clear and effective, and the essay follows the logical structure it establishes; paragraph structure is effective and logical.
The writing style is clear and concise, but also interesting. There are almost no major mechanical errors or typos.
B: The argument is explained and defended with sources that meet the requirements in the prompt, with only a few areas needing
improvements. The thesis statement is clear and effective, and the essay follows the logical structure it establishes with only minimal
problems in paragraph structure. The writing style is mostly clear and concise with some minor problems. There are a few major
mechanical errors or typos.
C: The argument is explained and defended, but there are noteworthy problems; five sources are used, but they don’t necessarily meet
the requirements in the prompt [note: your grade will be capped at a C+ if you do not meet the requirements for a book and a
periodical source, regardless of the quality of the rest of your essay]. The thesis statement is present and the essay mostly follows the
structure it establishes, or there are some more serious problems with paragraph structure. The writing style has some problems.
There are a few major mechanical errors or typos.
D: The argument is murky or poorly defined; sources are used, but they don’t meet the requirements in the prompt [note: your grade
will be capped at a D+ if you do not use at least five sources, regardless of the quality of the rest of your essay]. The thesis statement
is poorly written or missing, or paragraphs are poorly organized or poorly focused throughout. The writing style exhibits some major
problems. There are major mechanical errors or typos.
F: No discernable argument, or no sources, or no works cited page.
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