OPTION 1 (Informative Report):

ENG 1108-03 Assignment #4: THE RESEARCH PAPER (75 points)

Workshop Draft:  April 20                                                                           Keith Draft:  April 22

OPTION 1 (Informative Report):

Your primary goal for this assignment is to improve your readers’ understanding of a subject. Choose a topic that interests you, and make sure it is something you want to know more about. YOU SHOULD NOT ALREADY BE AN EXPERT. Don’t do something you’ve recently written about because the best papers are those in which the writer shares newly discovered information with the reader. You are NOT required to research a topic related to Rez Life, but you can if you want to. Medical and scientific topics (such as earthquakes, vaccines, opioid addiction, or black holes) work well, or you could explore a topic related to history or culture. For example, did you know there was a concentration camp in Minnesota? Loons, centipedes, hamsters, and other critters also make excellent topics, as do concepts like gaslighting or toxic masculinity. Any topic can work, but stay focused. See pp. 136 for other topic ideas. Your topic should be narrow enough so you can become an expert on it and educate your readers about it in approximately 4-5 pages (PLEASE, no more than 5 pages). Although there are several formal requirements (listed below) you must follow, this is still your writing. The emphasis is on information, but as a writer, you are the shaper of that information. Reading your essay should be even better than reading the original sources.


  1. Choose a group of readers likely to be interested in your topic (like “college students” or “new parents”) or choose a periodical or web site (like Cat Fancy or National Geographic), and list this audience at the top of page 1. Address your report specifically to that audience.
  2. Before you begin your research, formulate a question about your topic to help guide your work.  Your answer to this question will lead you to your thesis. Your report must have a narrowly focused subject and a clear statement about that subject.
  3. If you want to write about a person, like Prince, please DO NOT write a full birth-to-death biography of that person. Instead, focus your essay on what made that person important.
  4. To support your thesis, you must provide plentiful, plausible, and pertinent information.
  5. If your source articles are thorough, you shouldn’t need more than four, but feel free to find additional sources if you need more information. (See source notes below)
  6. The organization of your report should be logical and appropriate to your subject (break your subject into groups, steps in a process, etc.)
  7. Provide clear definitions for any terms your readers may not know.
  8. This should NOT be a persuasive essay.

OPTION 2 (Argumentative/Persuasive Essay):

In this assignment, you must attempt to persuade your readers to adopt your position on an issue by informing them about the issue and supporting your position. The ideal subject is something with which you are familiar (you have first-hand experience) and something that has distinct opposing viewpoints. It is essential that you come across as somewhat of an authority on the issue, and personal experience is a good way to demonstrate that. Your topic does not have to be something of global or national concern, and it does not have to connect to Rez Life. Start by looking at things you would like to change about your community, or even your neighborhood. This essay should be about 4-5 pages long, so stay focused. Please don’t go over 5 pages! 

OPTION 2 continued:


  1. List your target audience at the top of your first page. Choose a specific audience (for example, legislators or parents), or choose a periodical or web site. Use an appropriate tone. Assume your audience consists of reasonable people who are undecided or oppose your position. Do not insult your audience.
  2. Your position MUST be clearly stated in your thesis. 
  3. The essay MUST include at least one counterargument. Anticipate your readers’ objections. You must respond to all counterarguments, for example by refuting them or making a concession. 
  4. The subject of your essay MUST have at least two opposing viewpoints. Arguing “murderers must be imprisoned” would be a poor topic. Few, if any, reasonable people would disagree. 
  5. ETHOS: Demonstrate your good sense, goodwill, and your expertise on the topic.
  6. PATHOS: Engage your readers’ emotions without manipulating them.
  7. LOGOS: Logical, reasoned support and hard evidence are superior to emotionally biased opinions.
  8. Avoid logical fallacies!!!
  9. It’s okay to include relevant personal experience to support your position. However, the majority of supporting examples should come from credible outside sources. You may NOT list yourself as one of your required 4 sources.
  10. Avoid bumper sticker slogans: “make love not war,” “freedom isn’t free,” etc.
  11. Proofread carefully.

TOPIC NOTES: I urge you to AVOID controversial topics about which most people have already firmly made up their minds. In fact, the following topics are FORBIDDEN (unless you can convince me that you are an authority on them): abortion and gun control. See pp. 222 and 270-1 for topic ideas. If your topic fails to meet guidelines 2 and 3 listed above, then you will need to choose another topic. 

SOURCE NOTES (for both OPTIONS 1 and 2):

You need to use and cite a minimum of FOUR different sources. Try to find sources published within the last three years. At least TWO of your sources must come from the Inver Hills Library’s subscription databases (such as EBSCO Host or CQ Researcher). You may also use the Internet, interviews, newspapers, magazines, chapters in books, and/or pamphlets as sources. The information in an entire book can be too complex for this assignment, unless it has an index. If you do search online, DO NOT use personal web sites or Wikipedia. Instead use something like Google Scholar to search, and look for .edu, .org, or .gov web sites. Find peer reviewed sources, or sources that have been through some sort of credible quality control. You must be able to defend the credibility/objectivity of all sources. Religious texts may not be used as sources. Dictionaries may not be used as sources.

Correct MLA documentation (including in-text citations and a Works Cited page) is required. Refer to pp. 554-574. Noodle Tools (available through D2L) and other bibliography generators are allowed, but BEWARE!

IMPORTANT:  The Keith Draft of Assignment #4 is due by the start of class on Thursday, April 22.  I will accept late Keith Drafts up to one week after the due date (April 29); however, if you hand in your Keith Draft late, you will NOT be able to revise it for a final draft.