Write a college-level, research-based essay of at least eight pages.

Write a college-level, research-based essay of at least eight pages. You may select a topic that interests you, provided it is not on the list of Forbidden Topics below.

Whichever topic you choose, you should select appropriate academic sources from the TCC Library, read them carefully, take notes, and formulate well-informed conclusions about the topic, based on your research. Source information (quotations, paraphrases, and summaries) should be integrated smoothly into your writing and documented correctly, according to MLA format.

As your textbooks explain, all academic writing presents an argument a conclusion you arrive at after educating yourself on the topic. As you educate yourself on whichever topic you choose, we will, as a class, continue to review the elements of argument and to identify specific kinds of arguments you can defend in your essay.

Guidelines for Planning, Drafting, Revising and Editing
Remember that when you write in an academic setting, you join a conversation, so in choosing your topic, think about specific arguments you’ve encountered in readings and/or elsewhere. Agreeing and/or disagreeing with what others have argued is a good starting point for your topic.

Once you have your topic, you should complete preliminary research to see what experts say about your topic and to narrow your focus even more. You will write a short research proposal that presents your three-part research statement, a statement about why your topic is significant, and a working bibliography.

You will need to spend a great deal of time reading, evaluating, and synthesizing information from different sources. To demonstrate your engagement with sources, you will submit an annotated bibliography and outline. Class assignments and readings from the course texts will help you outline, draft, revise, and edit your essay.

All essays will be graded using the rubric posted in the Syllabus & Assignments area of Blackboard. The research paper, however, is worth 250 points, so the points available in each category are higher.

Forbidden Topics
Each of these topics is forbidden because they tend to result in overly broad and therefore bad research essays or because Ive simply read enough essays on the topic.

If you think you can find a unique approach to researching one of the topics below, please talk to me. Otherwise, be more creative and thoughtful in your approach to this assignment.

Capital punishment
Gun control
Legalization of marijuana
Media violence
Education reform
Same-sex marriage

Frequently asked questions
How close must my paper be to eight pages? An eight to ten page paper needs to be at least eight full pages. The Works Cited page(s) does not count as one of your pages.

How many sources should I use? You should use enough information from sources to support your claims, and each paragraph in your essay should contain references to sources. In most cases, this means students must use at least five sources.

Do all of my sources have to be peer-reviewed articles and scholarly books? You should look for at least three peer-reviewed and scholarly sources, but if you find other sources that meet the criteria presented in The Craft of Research or Little, Brown (43a), you may use those as well. The majority of sources, if not all of them, must come from the TCC library databases, unless you have a reason to seek sources outside of the library.

What will you be looking for when you grade my paper? In addition to the research and length requirements that I have specified in these instructions, I will be looking for the characteristics identified in the descriptions of the various letter grades in the front of The Little, Brown Handbook and on the grading rubric posted in Blackboard. Above all, I will be assessing your ability to make a clear and well supported argument. If you’re eager to earn an A, you should also teach me something, make me think, and impress me with your writing style.

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