What communities are you part of? In this essay, you will have the opportunity to explore one of your communities.
Assignment: Identify a current debate or controversy.
Note: This is a summary of your assignment. Please refer to full assignment from your instructor.
This is a quick outline for your research. For guidance on each stage, see the boxes below this one.
Stage 1: Brainstorm! List the various communities you belong to. Then choose one for this paper.
Stage 2: Identify a controversy that involves your community, and describe the groups that are in disagreement.
Stage 3: Get background information on the controversy. Which issues are at the center of it? What are the stakes? Why do people care?
Stage 4: Develop your provisional thesis and argument.
Stage 5: Find specialized information to explain the controversy, to describe the parties involved, and to support your conclusions about this issue.
At the end of this stage, you will have chosen to research one of the communities that you belong to.
Get a piece of paper and brainstorm. See the examples below, and think of groups that apply to you.
|"Named" groups that you belong to||BBBBBB||Non-named groups with a common interest or activity|
Pima Community College students
Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Halo gaming community
Big Brothers, Big Sisters
Checker Auto Parts employee
Creative Anachronism member
St. Cyril's Catholic Church
Hanging out at the neighborhood bar
Soap opera fan
Extreme fighting fan
Arizona Wildcat basketball fan
When you've selected a community (at least tentatively), go to Stage 2.
By the end of this stage, you'll briefly describe a controversy and the groups that disagree.
Two kinds of controversy to consider:
Controversies can differ on how public or private they are. Likewise they can be localized or national in scope.
NOTE: If you choose a controversy that is internal, private, or localized, little may be published about it. Therefore, you will need to provide much of the descriptive information from your own knowledge of the controversy.
Example: A very internal, private, and local controversy
Not only is this very personal, but the description of family members could only come from me. However, I could find lots of published information on "interventions" in general and the controversies that surround them.
Example: An external, semi-public, local controversy.
I need to provide most of the local facts from my own knowledge. But each group has a web site and bylaws. I can research local laws, and I can find articles where similar controversies have been published elsewhere. I might be able to find 'best practices" for mountain bikes written up elsewhere.
Example: An external, public, semi-national controversy
The actual controversy is in NYC, but the national media have covered it, so it is quite public. Other cities are considering similar laws, so a national controversy is beginning. Almost all of my information can come from published sources, including information published on my Facebook group.
Ok, can you identity a controversy involving your community?
When you've selected a controversy (at least tentatively), go to Stage 3.
By the end of this stage, you will gather information on any public aspects of your controversy and/or disagreeing parties.
Your strategy for this stage really depends upon the community and controversy you chose. As the examples in Stage 2 showed, even when studying a private controversy, you can usually find published sources that write about similar situations:
These sources can help explain your controversy or support your argument.
Explore the library's Controversial Issues databases. (See links below)
Opposing Viewpoints in Context
Points of View Reference Center
By the end of this stage, you'll have outlined your controversy and a provisional thesis and argument.
Work with your instructor to develop a provisional thesis and argument. "Provisional" means that it is a "working" argument that may be revised if new information turns up.
The following is simply an example, and it may not be appropriate for your assignment. Please consult your instructor at this stage!
Controversy: [Can you state the disagreement in the form of a question?]
- Example: Should cities ban the sale of soft drinks in cups larger than 36 oz.?
- Remember: you need to explain the controversy to your readers before they can understand your argument. You also need to characterize the parties and their stakes in the disagreement.
Thesis: [In a persuasive paper, your thesis is usually your position on the controversial question.]
- Example: No, cities should not regulate the size of cups that soft drinks are sold in.
Argument: [What are the main reasons for accepting your thesis?]
- The health benefits of these regulations are far from clear--as shown in a scientific study that I cite.
- People have the right to buy a Big Gulp, even if it does harm their health.
- As history has shown, stores and people find ways to evade unpopular regulations.
- Deal with opposing arguments: What arguments has the other side made? What objections will your readers likely raise?
- Hold on! It is common sense that fast food sodas indeed contribute to obesity. And this has serious health consequences.
- Hasn't the regulation of cigarettes had a positive effect on saving lives? Isn't this worth imfringing on smokers' rights?
Once you have a provisional argument. You can search for information to support each point in your argument.
Go to Stage 5.
By the end of this stage, you'll have searched for (and found) sources the support the main points in your argument.
Two kinds of things to search for:
Example: A news article on groups complaining about New York City's proposed big soda ban.
Often you can find lots of interesting facts from these articles, because they pull together information on your topic.
Example: Articles on what causes diabetes-- can soda consumption really be considered a cause, or not?
If the evidence is weak that soda consumption can cause diabetes, then it helps your argument.
Example: Article on Prohibition (of alcohol in 1920s)--and all the problems that this law caused.
If problems occurred when the U.S. banned alcohol in the 1920s, then you can suggest that similiar (although smaller) problems could occur by banning big soda cups.
Now search for articles in MegaSearch.
BEFORE your search, please review ALL the directions. They give you a sample search. Then you can adapt the sample strategy to your topic.
CLICK HERE to go to a hidden tab for MegaSearch instructions.