Argument Essay

Essay IV: Argumentative Essay

Write a 4-5 page essay that takes a nuanced position, explicit or implicit, on an issue you’ve researched. You must use at least four outside sources (primary or secondary) in support of this position. You will need to include at least two academic sources (academic sources will be secondary). While you've researched an issue, looking at it both in the 1960s and the present day, your argument will most likely focus just on the present day. So if your annotated bibliography looked at protests against the vietnam war and the iraq war, your argumentative essay will probably take a position just about Iraq War protests (such as these protests were relatively small because our all voluntary military means that many Americans don't fear that their immediate family and friends will be sent to war).

Remember that an argument is usually not pro-con. An argument you can fully support in just four pages will be small and nuanced. For example, you wouldn’t argue that drugs should be legalized, but that one of the main reasons teenagers turn to drug use is lack of parental attachment.

You will submit a research portfolio with your essay, including all outside sources, a first draft, workshop or peer review draft, and two copies of a final draft.


  • Analyze and synthesize secondary sources in developing an argument
  • Identify arguments on both sides of an issue
  • Conduct research using both online and print sources
  • Evaluate accuracy and objectivity of sources by identifying value judgments, biases, and unsupported generalizations
  • Distinguish between valid and invalid evidence in support of an argument
  • Write a persuasive, well-organized, and accurately documented 4-5 argument essay

Grading Criteria

  • Do you have a thesis, even if it is implicit or delayed, that argues something relevant about an issue you researched in Essay III.
  • Does your thesis and argument confront this issue in all its complexity rather than over-simplifying the issue?
  • Are the reasons and evidence in support of this theme/thesis credible, relevant, and fully developed?
  • Does your essay enter into the “conversation” about this issue that you discovered when researching?
  • Have you included at least four sources (primary or secondary), 2 of which are secondary academic sources? In citing these sources, have you represented the author’s point of view without distorting it?
  • Have you inserted correct parenthetical citations for your sources? Failure to do so may result in a zero content grade.
  • Do your paraphrases put the ideas of the text into your own words? Are your quotes accurate – do they quote the text word for word?
  • Have you smoothly integrated these outside voices into you writing.
  • Does your paper adequately address opposing viewpoints, while subordinating/critiquing them?
  • Does your paper conclude somewhere near the top of page 5 (or on a subsequent page)?
  • Are there substantial differences between the first and second draft?

A passing essay must:

  • Have an introduction that adequately introduces the essay.
  • Have a conclusion that adequately concludes the essay.
  • Be, as a whole, logically organized
  • Make its structure clear to the reader through transitions.
  • Contain paragraphs that are logically organized internally.
  • Contain paragraphs whose organization is made clear to the reader through transitions.
  • Avoid repetition.

Short Style Checklist:

  • Is your writing clean stylistically? Do you use strong verbs and active voice? Are sentences concise and clear? Have you combined sentences as needed to create sentence variety?
  • Are filler sentences eliminated?
  • Are your sentences grammatically correct? Remember not to use “this” or “that” as a pronoun and to use a comma with an introductory phrase. Also remember to use a comma and a conjunction to connect two independent phrases (phrases that can stand alone as sentences).
  • Is the paper typed in Times Roman 12 inch font? Is it double spaced with one inch margins?
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