The goal of this paper is to construct a fair-minded, unbiased, analytical analysis of a topic in a comprehensive essay.
- This is not an opinion piece or a persuasive essay that simply aims to prove or reinforce what you already believe. This would be confirmation bias, and bias must be avoided in this project.
- This project needs to avoid harsh rhetoric or language that is harmful and hurtful in nature. The point is to be objective and unemotional in your approach.
- This essay should be written in a fair, academic, respectful, and analytical manner regardless of any of your opinions, feelings, or preconceived notions about the topic.
- Both sides of your topic must be treated with equal attention, both in terms of the number and quality of sources and in the depth and breadth of their presentation in your essay. Both sides should be addressed in the same number of paragraphs in roughly equivalent detail, and should be supported by the same number of quality sources.
- You must identify and define rhetorical devices and logical fallacies on both sides of the argument. Be sure you indicate which specific rhetorical device and fallacy you have found, and there is evidence in your sources of these course concepts in practice that is cited in your paper.
- You will present statements and claims for analyzing both sides of the topic. Only then should you state you own conclusion as an objective, critical thinker given the information presented.
Topic Selection: Students should select a topic they are very interested in that has academically legitimate research that supports a two-sided argument. Suggested topics include:
- Gender neutral bathrooms
- Police brutality/excessive force
- Sex education in shool
- Immigration reform
- Taxpayer-funded health care
- Refugees seeking asylum
- Physician‐assisted suicide
- Gun laws
- Marijuana legalization (specify medical vs. recreational use)
- Spanking to discipline children
- Organic vs. non-organic foods
- E‐cigarettes vs. tobacco cigarettes
- Human-caused climate change (check with your professor on specifics)
- Effects of social
Essay Format: Your essay must be 5–7 pages (1600–1900 words) in length. The abstract, title page, and reference list do not count in the page or word count. The essay must have the following elements:
- Times New Roman
- 1-inch margins
- Proper Level I and Level II APA section headings for all major sections of the essay
- All other applicable APA formatting
- A properly formatted APA title page
- A properly formatted APA abstract
- Body of the paper
- Introduction: Identify the issue. Provide the necessary background and/or important recent developments. Define key terms and concepts. Engage the reader and explain the broader significance of the issue.
- Arguments and Counterarguments: Summarize the best arguments on both sides of the issue. Include relevant research from credible sources used to support each conclusion. Devote at least one paragraph to each side.
- Evaluation of Critical Thinking: Assess the strength of the arguments and the quality of thinking surrounding this issue.
- Identify weaknesses in critical thinking such as fallacies, rhetorical devices, vague language, and cognitive biases. Provide specific examples of how these weaknesses appear in arguments you encountered, using terminology and definitions from the course. Be specific! Present evidence from your sources that show these fallacies/biases being used.
- Evaluate the quality of scientific and anecdotal evidence using the standards of inductive and deductive reasoning described in the course. Consider the quality of causal relationship, analogies, generalizations, and/or moral reasoning.
- Conclusion: Analyze the totality of research and offer a critical thinker’s response to the issue. Identify your own position and experience with the issue and explain how your thinking of the subject has evolved as a result of your analysis. Your conclusion does not have to be absolute, but it should not be equivocal. If both sides have good arguments, which is better, even if only slightly better, and what is the argument that tips the scales in the sides’ favor? Why does that point tip the scales?
- A properly formatted APA reference list
- Sources should appear in alphabetical order according to the last name of the first author listed on the source.
- If there is no author(s), then the source should be cited by title or organization.
Sources and Research Sources: You must use five scholarly or academic sources and all research should be published within the last five years. Sources not scholarly or academic in nature may affect your grade. It is highly recommended that most of your research be conducted via the WCU Library.
Eligible sources listed best-to-worst:
- Peer-reviewed journal articles
- Peer review is the process that allows scientists to trust the reliability of published journal articles. The only way to tell if a journal article has been peer reviewed is to look for information about the journal, normally on the publisher’s website. Most databases do not indicate if an article is peer reviewed or not.
- The WCU library contains many of peer-reviewed sources. This is going to be the most desired type of evidence to use for any paper at WCU.
- Scholarly research articles
- Research articles (original research articles, primary research articles, or case studies) are your standard scientific articles. Most often published in peer-reviewed journals, primary research articles report on the findings of a scientist’s work.
- They almost always include a description of how the research was conducted and what the results mean. This is also a highly desirable type of research to use for your papers.
- Government and state reports
- Many government agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institute of Mental Health (NIHM), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may have studies and statistics that may be useful for your topic. However, these sources are usually informational reports in nature, and therefore they rarely dig into the critical arguments used by the sides of a topic.
- Though usually credible and reliable source, government reports should generally be used as supplemental, secondary sources to support or rebut academic sources. They should not be the main sources of your argument.
- Other articles or sources
- When this general term is used for an assignment, get clarification from your instructor about the source requirements. These are articles or sources that have been well researched and include a lot of citations. When you assess these resources, make sure that they are appropriate to use as evidence because they may contain bias. You should look at the sources these articles are using, determine if they are legitimate, reputable, and credible, and then make a judgment call.
- These types of articles are the least desirable type of articles from the list of acceptable types to use (depending on each course’s expectations).
- Review articles
- Editorials, opinion, commentary, and perspectives
- Trade publication articles
- Technical reports
- Interviews or TED talks
Sources that may not be used on this essay include the following:
- Wikipedia and information from freelance websites (check with your professor before using these sources)
- Information from general or reference sources such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, general information websites, or other reference works online or in print. Check with your teacher regarding textbooks from other courses or other sources if you are not sure.
- Articles from publications or magazines that lack research to back up their claims
- Religious texts of any kind
- Obviously or highly biased sources that contain no credible or reputable support
Avoiding plagiarism: Remember that avoiding plagiarism is priority number one for credible academic writers.
- It is always better to cite and attribute to a source than not to cite. If you are ever unsure, cite and attribute.
- Anything that you copy word-for-word from a source must be quoted, attributed to its original source, and parenthetically cited in APA Style.
- Anything that you take from a source and put into your own words must be both attributed to its original source and parenthetically cited in APA Style.