Research Paper

Length: 2500 words 

Research a topic of your choice and make a reasoned, well-supported argument to get your audience to agree with you. Imagine you are writing an opinion piece for a high-quality publication such as The New York Times, The Atlantic, or The New Republic (but use MLA referencing).

Your paper should

  • present a central thesis (argument, arguable position)
  • provide reasons to explain why your thesis is correct
  • provide evidence to support your reasons/claims/thesis
  • refer to at least 5 scholarly sources
  • refute potential counter-arguments by identifying fallacious arguments and/or refuting credibility of evidence, and
  • persuade the reader to think differently or take an action.


The topic is up to you, but don’t spend so much time deciding on a topic that you don’t have time to do research and make an argument. You might choose a topic related to your major or your personal interests. Form your topic into a research question that your paper attempts to answer.


Should marijuana be legalized for recreational use? Why or Why not?

Is science more important than religion?

What is the best solution to homelessness in Los Angeles?

What should ordinary Californians do to combat the drought?

How should America respond to the threat from ISIS?

Do corporations hold too much power in America?



Rhetoric and Critical Thinking

·      logical and detailed analysis

·      shows awareness of both sides of the issue

·      takes a clear, reasoned stance and provides evidence to support it

·      refutes potential counter-arguments, including pointing out fallacious arguments

·      uses elements of ethos, pathos, and logos to support position

·      uses rhetorical tools and strategies learned in English 1C



·      strong, arguable thesis

·      cohesive structure and transitions

·      correct syntax, word choice, punctuation, spelling, grammar, and language

·      shows awareness of audience through tone and language

·      focused and well-developed paragraphs that fit together to develop an argument

·      careful and original use of language



·      sufficient quantity and quality of secondary research

·      integration of examples from the primary text to support claims

·      secondary research supports claims and thesis

·      all sources properly cited in MLA format (in-text citations and Works Cited list)



·      document presented in MLA format (e.g. titles, headers, spacing)

·      correct font, font size, file format, etc.

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