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ENGL 101 - English Composition I - Rice: Getting Started

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Assignment: Argument from Sources

English 101: Argument from Sources

Assignment: Write an essay on a recent controversial issue. Learn more about the issue and take a position on it. Present the issue to readers and develop an argument for the purpose of confirming, challenging, or changing your readers’ views on the issue. Use a least four academic sources to support your stance.

When writing your essay, be sure to support your claims with reasons and evidence drawn from your research. Citing, understanding, and refuting a counterargument are absolutely essential for an effective position paper. Also, be sure to structure your essay to include an interesting introduction, a clear, effective thesis statement that states your position on the topic and forecasts the rest of your paper, well-developed body paragraphs that include arguments for your position and refutations of opposing views, and a conclusion.

  • If you need help getting started, reference Ch. 10 of the Field Guide.

Format: Typed, double-spaced, Times New Roman font, 12 point type. MLA headings and margins. You will need a title, but not a title page. For questions on MLA format, reference Chapter 50 in your textbook. For specifics on the essay format, see page 524.

  • Parenthetical citations and a Works Cited page are necessary.

Grading Criteria:

  1. Ideas/Content: sufficiently developed introduction; clear statement of position (thesis); clear presentation of evidence that supports your position; appropriate detail; sufficiently developed conclusion in which you tie all of these elements together
  2. Organization: clear connection between each paragraph and your thesis; logical order within and between paragraphs; clear transitions
  3. Style: formal, but not stilted; avoid slang and contractions; sentence variation should be used to express degrees of importance and relationships between sentences
  4. Grammar: standard conventional English; avoid sentence fragments, fused sentences, and comma splices; use correct subject/verb and pronoun/antecedent agreement
  5. Mechanics: correct use of punctuation, including use of sentence boundaries and commas; double space with appropriate margins; MLA format

Length: 4-6 pages. No more, no less. MLA format only. Academic Audience

  • Topic approval is necessary. Make sure you obtain my approval for your individual argument before you begin this essay. Topics that will not be accepted because of scope include religious-based arguments, abortion, euthanasia, death penalty, drug legalization, and lowering the drinking age. Don’t ask.


Andrea Hartranft's picture
Andrea Hartranft
Reference/Instruction Librarian

Harrisburg Campus Library
Science Liaison
(717) 780-2467