Advanced Research Project Part II:
The Essay


Your final research project is an essay that presents an informed, researched opinion about an issue about which rational people can and do disagree. To be effective, the paper must be written to a specific audience, and it must make an argument that informed readers would find persuasive. Your essay should argue for a specific interpretation of the available evidence in order to make a definitive statement about the particular issue. To that end, they thoughtfully and productively engage with available sources relevant to the topic.


For Part I, you needed to include a minimum of eight quotations from six sources, including at least one book and three scholarly articles. For the position paper, the requirements are slightly lower: six quotations from at least five sources; the minimum number of books and scholarly articles still applies, as does the minimum of five Type 1 quotations. The secondary sources may be books, essays collected in volumes, articles published in journals (print or online), or video documentaries. Check other sources with me.

To be useful, a source must require citation. Therefore, it must either offer the author’s judgment or present information that resulted specifically from the author’s research. Note that I want you to avoid quoting only because of phrasing.

You may not cite any secondary source more than three times in the essay, only one quotation of those three can be long enough to require block-quoting, and if you quote any secondary source three times, you must rebut one of them. No quotation should be longer than one hundred words. Again, quotations must be long enough to be meaningful but should not be so long that they make achieving a good ratio of commentary to quotation achievable.

Remember that while paraphrasing is acceptable practice, and can help you shorten a passage to more manageable size, which in turn helps you achieve a better ratio of commentary to quotation, direct quotation is inherently stronger and more persuasive. I recommend that if you do paraphrase, you anchor the paraphrase in a final quotation of at least one clause.

You must make use of every quotation that makes a judgment of some kind by extending, applying, or rebutting it with either logic or evidence, as we have discussed. A quotation to which you merely defer and allow to make your point for you does not count toward the assignment requirements, and indeed often weakens your argument.

You must have at least one rebuttal in your essay.

You must cite every quotation according to APA or MLA protocols. If a source appears in your works cited or references list, you must have actually cited it in your essay.

Structurally, the essay may be closed-form or open-form, but I will reward you for attempting open-form. Either way, I expect a strong introduction and conclusion that are absolutely not interchangeable.

The paper should be thoughtfully organized. Subheads are optional, but I recommend them.

The paper should be clearly written throughout, and grammatically as close to flawless as you can manage. Style matters, too, and particularly graceful writing will earn a bonus.


Minimum: 2400 words of your own writing, not counting quotations, paraphrase, your works cited or reference list, your title, and subheads
Maximum: 2800 words of your own writing plus quotations, not counting quotations, paraphrase, your works cited or reference list, your title, and subheads

Please use your word processor’s word count function and put the result with and without quotations at the bottom of the text’s last page before the works cited or list of references.

Come to class with three hard-copies of your project. In addition, prior to class you must send the document directly to me at as a .doc or .docx attachment to an e-mail message.


After receiving feedback from your peers in the peer response session, you will revise this project and submit it to me for evaluation.

Submit the document directly to me by e-mail. Along with the essay you must submit a reflective commentary. Attach both the essay and the reflective commentary to the same e-mail.

Submit these to me directly at as .doc or .docx attachments to an e-mail message. Note: It is your responsibility to make sure your documents attach. You can confirm this by examining the message in your sent message folder. If you send me an e-mail saying “Here is my project” and no documents are attached, the essay has not been submitted.

Because your revision is due at the end of the course, I will not accept any essay revision late. I simply do not have the time before my final grade are due to accept late essays. If you fail to submit your revision on time, I will grade your initial draft as if it is your revision. This means you will not receive a zero for the assignment, but typically the resulting grade will be poor and make it likely that you will need to repeat the course.


The research essay will receive both a Content grade and a Grammar and Style grade. The Content grade, which I will score on the usual A+ (100) to F (59 or lower) scale, refers to the strength of your thesis, the persuasiveness of your argument, the quality of your research, your use of research materials to support your argument, and the essay’s structure and organizationt. The Grammar and Style grade, which I will score as a modifier of from +5 to -15, covers the quality of your writing, including your grammar, style, concision, spelling, attention to detail, and your adherence to correct quotation and citation format. Successfully structuring your essay as open-form will result in a 3 point bonus. See the Style Scores document for a detailed explanation of penalties and bonuses.

Again, I will not accept revisions of this project late.

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