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Evaluating Online Sources
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ENGL 0099 Watjen - Fall 2013  

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Research Paper


Short Research Paper - Objectives


Objective: Your first objective for this assignment is to expand your knowledge on a topic that interests you by gathering information in a scientific, unbiased way. Most students accept without question the viewpoints and positions held by those in authority within their own culture and summarily reject, and occasionally even ridicule, all opposing viewpoints. Conducting research with this mindset disavows its purpose and is contrary to a rigorous pursuit of the truth. To receive the full benefit of this assignment, you are asked to temporarily suspend your tendency to reject any statement or information that supports a viewpoint that differs from your own. The benefits of doing so are numerous:


·       First, gathering information in this way is not only characteristic of critical thinking, an invaluable skill associated with academic success, but the only way to effectively evaluate evidence, arguments, claims, and beliefs.

·       Secondly, to succeed in today’s job market, you must be able to interact with people from many linguistic and cultural backgrounds with varying viewpoints and perspectives.

·       Lastly, understanding and empathizing with multiple perspectives is the foundation for improved social relations and profoundly superior to “tolerance.”


Secondly, you will be asked to find two sources that provide compelling reasons in support of each viewpoint. Part of the challenge of this assignment is being able to recognize compelling arguments when you see them and recognize the difference between writing that informs and writing that persuades.




Research Paper

Short Research Paper - Instructions


Assignment: Write a 750- to 1000-word short research paper on a current controversial issue. This paper will be structured as a compare and contrast essay and formatted using MLA style guidelines, including in-text citations and a Works Cited page. You will find instructions for writing a compare and contrast essay, using in-test citations, and creating a Works Cited page on D2L.

You will choose one controversial issue that interests you. You can start your search using the Opposing Viewpoints in Context website. A link to this website is provided in D2L. Next, you must find two (2) articles, one for each opposing viewpoint, making certain each article provides cogent evidence that is compelling. You will summarize each viewpoint by listing the reasons and evidence provided by your author. You must include an appropriate combination of paraphrasing and direct quotes when discussing the articles, you must cite both articles within your paper, and you must include a Works Cited page.



·       Choose an issue from the Opposing Viewpoints in Context website (see Gale Opposing Viewpoints in Context link on D2L). This issue must be a topic you have recently debated or discussed with someone, heard others discuss or debate, or that affects you personally.

·       Find two (2) articles, one for each opposing viewpoint on the controversial issue you have selected. Next, read each article carefully, making notes as you go along to make certain you understand what you have read.

·       Summarize each article, focusing on its main points and most persuasive reasons. You must use an appropriate combination of paraphrasing and direct quotes when discussing the articles in your paper. (For help on understanding the difference between paraphrasing and direct quotes, see the “Help with Paraphrasing and Direct Quotes” document on D2L.)

·       Cite both articles within your paper and include a Works Cited page at the end of the paper. (For more information on in-text MLA citations, see the “Help with MLA In-Text Citations” link on D2L).





Research Paper

Watjen’s English 0099                                                                                 Fall Semester 2013




·       Do write about a current issue that interests you. If you find your subject boring, your paper will reflect that.

·       Do choose a topic that is controversial, that is, has two opposing viewpoints. You must find and summarize two sources that provide compelling arguments for each side.

·       Do make certain your topic is narrowly focused. You cannot write about global warming in general because that topic is far too broad for a 750-page research paper. You can write about the effect of global warming on the migration patterns of whales.

·       Do write about a current topic. The more current the topic, the more relevant and interesting your paper will be and the easier it will be to find articles that are credible.

·       Do not choose a topic that has been written about profusely (abortion, gay marriage, global warming, capital punishment, changing the drinking age), unless you have a new, unexplored way of looking at the subject or there is brand new evidence that has not yet been considered.

·       Do not choose a topic that is so obscure it is hard to find information about.

·       Do not wait until the day the paper is due to begin working on this paper. You might discover there is no information on your topic or that there is too much information.

·       Do not choose a topic you have written about or researched in the past. This paper MUST expand your knowledge about a particular issue. If you already have extensive knowledge about a subject, it will defeat the purpose of writing a “research” paper.


These topics represent a very broad overview. The actual topic of your paper would have to be more narrowly focused:


Stem Cell Research

Fair Tax

Teen Suicide

Bigamy: Mormons in Utah

Childhood Obesity

Childhood Obesity in America

The Bermuda Triangle



Global Warming

End of the World Prophecies

Gangs in America

Prayer in School

Over-diagnosing of ADD

Mental Illness and Creative Genius

Denigration of Women in Music and the Media

Wal-Mart’s abuse of employee

Profiling and immigration laws

Raising the debt ceiling in America

Racial Epithets in Rap Music

America’s presence in the Middle East

Security of the State of Israel

Implanted GPS Trackers

Surveillance in America: Are you being watched?

Who is America’s Greatest Threat?

Alien Visitations

Crop Circles


The legalization of marijuana in Colorado

Should college athletes be paid?



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