(Toulmin argument)


Launching Your Research

This assignment should be done in stages. First, read the chapter of The Little Brown Compact Handbook regarding research writing. Pay particular attention to the parts on formulating a thesis, narrowing a subject, planning a search strategy, using the library’s database, taking notes, and avoiding plagiarism. Next, your instructor will arrange for the class’s visit to the William C. Jason Library. This library visit will introduce you to the various databases and other library resources that are fundamental to successful college research. It is vitally important that you attend this visit.

Following your library visit, complete the remaining steps of the assignment as stated in the following directives.

The Paper

Write a research paper of 1,500 to 2,000 words (between 7 to 9 pages)—excluding the title page and Works Cited page—on a particular subject to persuade the audience of college students that argues a particular position on a controversial topic or societal issue. Your topic is based upon ONE of the following topics:

  • Has democracy died in America?
  • Is religion still useful to society?
  • Should we change as a country in response to climate change?
  • Defund police departments?
  • Do Millennials spend too much time on social media networks?
  • Are Americans over-stressed and over-worked?
  • Is there sufficient scientific evidence to support climate change?
  • Should all forms of sexting be made criminal? 
  • Is microaggression synonymous with racism?
  • Is technology harming the way that people learn and/or acquire knowledge? 
  • Are the Good Samaritan laws founded upon religious bias that favors selected people? 
  • Your own topic that is pre-approved by your instructor prior to your first conference

You can also choose topics used in the cause and effect or compare  contrast essay

Your own topic that is pre-approved by your instructor prior to your first conference

N.B.: Your instructor must approve your topic before you finalize it, so you are to conduct your initial research right away to determine that the appropriate number of your topic’s sources is available. Once your topic is approved, any change without your instructor’s prior approval will warrant minus ten (10-) points, the equivalent of a lowered letter grade.


Plan to attend your first conference to discuss your progress on the research paper. To maximize on the conference for evaluation, bring at least two of your actual source materials—NOT the web addresses or library’s database results—and a formal working outline that is typed and not handwritten (see “Planning an Argumentation Essay Outline” on Blackboard for guidance). This conference focuses on your preliminary planning of your paper and verifies that your sources are valid and authoritative.

Your second conference will be to review your completed first draft and address your specific questions. Be aware that this conference is not to proofread or edit your paper. Rather, to maximize on this conference, bring your own specific questions/concerns for which you would like feedback.

Needless to say, this essay is a formal one and to be written in the third person; therefore, do not use any first- or second-person “I,” “my,” “we,” “us,” “our,” “you” and “your,” except when quoting from a source. Furthermore, the writing is to adhere to Standard Edited English language. Replace words (you, because, it, thing) (they, like, we, be) (being, about, feel, every (one, body, etc.), any (one, body, etc.). Therefore, you are not to use contractions, abbreviations and symbols, informal language, slang, and colloquialism, except when quoting from a source.

N.B.: You are required to attend one of the conferences. Your research paper will NOT be graded unless you attended one of them.

Sources and Documentation

You must cite at least SEVEN (7) sources in your paper: at least three of these must be from a professional or scholarly journal and one from a library book or e-book. You are required to use MLA Style of parenthetical documentation within the paper and on your Works Cited page. 

The Structure: Rogerian

The structure of the Rogerian argument includes all of the following: 

  • An argument thesis
  • A counter-argument thesis
  • The refutation to the counter-argument
  • The return-to-thesis
  • At least one call-to-action

The Rogerian structure further requires that you engage in deductive reasoning in your body paragraphs. Patterns offers clear instructions regarding these components of argumentation. See the outline on Blackboard.

The Structure: Toulmin

The structure of the Toulmin argument includes claims and warrants and relies primarily on inductive reasoning, which entails making inferences based upon an established pattern of behavior or recurring incidences. Unfortunately, Patterns does not provide a sample, so unless you are familiar with and confident in using this structure you may opt out of it. See the outline on Blackboard.

REMINDERS: The paper’s …

thesis and counter-thesis or claim and counter-claim are precisely stated.

purpose is to persuade.

audience is college students.

tone is professional, formal, and authoritative.

N.B.: (1) Prior to your first conference, discuss with your instructor which structure you plan to use. Be aware that you cannot mix the structures, and once you have decided on a structure it is in your best interest that you adhere to it consistently. (2) See the respective rubric on Bb that informs how your paper will be graded.

Scholarly versus Popular Sources

Scholarly” sources have the following characteristics: 

– articles tend to be longer, are written by scholars or specialists on the subject whose credentials can be evaluated, and appear in scholarly journals. Scholarly journal titles often begin or end with the words “Journal,” “Review,” “Bulletin,” or “Research” or may include the title of an organization, such as “American Historical Association.” Examples of scholarly journals are Child Study Journal, American Economic Review, and Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Many of these journals are “refereed,” e.g. – articles are selected for publication by a panel of experts who evaluate them for accuracy and importance. 

– articles may not be heavily illustrated, but tables, graphs, and diagrams are often included. 

– articles are usually based on original research using established methodology which supports conclusions arrived at by the author. 

– an extensive bibliography or list of references is included at the end of the articles. These allow the reader to see what sources were used by the author of the article. Footnotes and/or endnotes will be used. 

– specialized, discipline specific periodical indexes and abstracts list scholarly journal articles. 

Examples of indexes to scholarly articles include: Psychological Abstracts, MLA Bibliography, and many others. The library’s Reference staff will be glad to direct you to the most appropriate indexes for your topic. Ask for assistance at the Reference Desk. 

The following criteria can be used to identify “popular” magazine articles: 

– articles are short, written by journalists rather than by scholars, and appear in popular, news- reporting magazines. These are the magazines commonly found in newsstands, bookstores, and supermarkets. Time, Better Homes and Gardens, and Sports Illustrated are examples of popular magazines. 

– articles frequently include glossy color photographs. 

– articles are often unsigned and/or written by journalists; there may be no way to assess the accuracy of the information or the qualifications of the author. Typically no bibliography or list of sources used by the author to write the article is included. 

– articles are usually informative and up-to-date and may deal with important contemporary issues, but they are not based upon scholarly research.

Other periodical indexes, such as the Social Sciences Index, Humanities Index, and General Sciences Index may list both popular and scholarly articles. 

Be aware that books may also be “popular” or “scholarly.” When evaluating books, you may want to ask the following questions: 

– Are there footnotes and/or bibliographies which list the author’s sources? 

– Is the author objective or is the subject receiving biased or sensational treatment? 

– Is the author competent to write on the subject? The author’s credentials should be clearly stated. 

– Who published the book? Books published by popular presses may carry less weight than those published by scholarly or university presses. 

Indexes to book reviews, such as Book Review Digest and Book Review Index, are located in the Reference Room. Sometimes book reviews will help assess the quality of a particular book.

Refer to the rubric on Blackboard that indicates how the paper will be graded and make sure that you have met all of the criteria for the grade for which you are striving. 

Due Dates

First conference:      

Second conference:      

  • Workshop session:      
  • SafeAssign final draft:      

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