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ENGL 015: Rhetoric and Composition (Sachsenmeier)

Preparing for a Researched Position Paper

Assignment 3 is a multi-part assignment, designed to build a foundation for the Researched Position Paper you will write for Assignment 4.  For a description of the requirements, expectations, and topic of that paper, please refer to the Assignment 4 description sheet.  The multiple parts of this assignment will include the following:

Part I: Library Worksheet

Part II: Annotated Bibliography

Part III: Sentence Outline

Part I: Library Worksheet:

We will go on a treasure hunt to the library where you will be introduced to the many resources available to develop and research topic and find relevant resources.  The Worksheet you will use will be posted on Canvas and available before our treasure hunt so that you can take notes and answer its questions.

Part II: Annotated Bibliography:

As part of your research project, you will need to choose a library/data-based research topic to investigate.  This topic must be specific and clearly defined, so that it is not too broad, among other things.  The first step to writing an effective position paper is to come up with a clear topic, find relevant sources, and collate those sources.

An annotated bibliography is a crucial step in this process.  It is a list of citations, presented along with brief description of the sources, what information they contain, their credibility (ethos), and their value and relevance to your topic.  To accomplish this goal, you must:

  1. Find two sources, in addition to using a minimum of two of your class readings, that discuss, evaluate, or analyze the topic you have chosen.  These sources must provide more than standard background information.  All online sources must be scholarly articles.  You may not use a web site, a book review, a news story, or other non-scholarly journal article, unless you also incorporate the minimum two articles plus two class readings.  Any background information needed to properly present your cultural representations does not count towards these two sources
  2. At least one of your sources must represent a different or opposite point of view from the position you are arguing in your paper.  In other words, you must include at least one naysayer.
  3. Create a full bibliographic citation for each source in proper MLA format
  4. Read the sources and, under each entry, write a short paragraph that concisely summarizes the author’s credentials, main points, and how you will incorporate this source in your research paper – how does it support/contradict your argument

Part III: Formal Sentence Outline:

You will create a formal outline for your final research paper.  It will present your thesis, the major points and evidence in support of that thesis, and the sub-points, explanations, or analysis supporting each major point.  You must include every logical step necessary to making your argument.  The basic idea of a formal outline is that different types of letters or numbers represent different levels of the hierarchy of your paper, with lower levels indented below main levels:

  1. Main point
    1. Sub-point
    2. Sub-point
      1. Sub-sub-point

The important concept to remember when formatting your outline is that the connections among ideas should be clear.  The reader should be able to see at a glance which are the main points, which are the secondary points, and which are at the third level of important, as well as all of the points relate to and support one another.  This outline, if properly done, should represent almost a first draft of your research paper, making it very easy to fill in the remaining sentences and create your Rough Draft.  This outline will also make clear which parts in your argument are weak, requiring additional work or elaboration.