College students across the country will soon be returning to school in some capacity. Covid-19 is on everyone’s mind as students, faculty, and staff prepare for the start of the academic year.
I thought it would be useful to offer some helpful how-to guides and suggestions to help students manage their coursework and succeed, especially since many of them will be completing the upcoming semester remotely.
Most students will be required to write an argumentative research paper at some point in college. Writing an argumentative research paper can be stressful and seem like a daunting task. You can reduce your stress and manage the writing process by planning and preparing in the right way.
Here is an easy, 4-step guide to effectively write an argumentative (thesis-driven) research paper. You can use this guide to prepare and as a template to help you plan and write your paper.
How to Write a Thesis Statement and Topic Proposal
In an argumentative paper organization is key: each idea/section should flow smoothly from the preceding idea/section. An effective argument will be focused and will avoid any fluff or unnecessary digressions. To that end, it is important to plan a clear topic proposal.
A well-written topic proposal will make the writing process go smoothly, and it can be used as your introductory paragraph. Following the 4-steps below, you will be able to construct a well-written, focused topic proposal and introductory paragraph.
4 Steps for Writing a Better Paper
Step 1: State the problem you will address in your paper. An argumentative or thesis-driven paper takes a position on some issue. At the outset, it is important to give a clear, concise statement of the issue or problem that you will address. You can state the problem directly or in the form of a question.
- Example: “Fracking” or Hydraulic Fracturing is an extremely controversial method for extracting natural gas that raises a host of environmental concerns. This paper examines whether it is ethical to continue such a practice.
Step 2: State why the problem matters. This is an important step because you want the attention of your readers. Here it is helpful to think of practical issues or concerns. Why should the reader care about the argument you are going to make? Why should the reader care about the issue?
- Example: It is important that we fully understand the environmental impact(s) of practices like fracking. Such practices are contrary to human interests (broadly construed) and may hinder our efforts to develop more efficient, sustainable methods for meeting our energy needs.
Step 3: State your thesis. Your thesis statement is the position you will defend in your paper. The thesis statement is the most important component of a good topic proposal and effective argumentative research paper. Be clear and direct when stating your thesis.
- Example: In this paper, I argue that the practice of fracking is unethical because it (a) causes significant damage to the environment and (b) forestalls further development of better methods for meeting our energy needs.
Step 4: State how you plan to organize your paper. This is where you give the reader an idea of how you plan to make your argument and substantiate your thesis. Think of this as a very concise outline of your paper. Here, it is important to start thinking about the best way to organize your ideas. I recommend including a statement addressing how you will conclude your paper (will you examine the implications of your position, suggest what further research is needed, etc.).
- Example: For present purposes, I focus only on the practice of fracking. I begin with a brief sketch of what fracking entails. I then highlight two main problems, x and y, associated with fracking’s negative impact on the environment. I argue that given its negative impact on the environment the practice of fracking is unethical and contrary to human interests. I then end with a discussion of some implications of my position and conclude that continuing practices like fracking ultimately obstructs our attempts to develop more sustainable energy practices.
Do you have any suggestions or tips for writing a thesis-driven paper?
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