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The Basics of Your Paper

English 1302           Spring 2016              Research Essay #1

Your first research essay is due March 10 at the start of class.  The essay must be three typed pages minimum plus a Works Cited page.

Select one of these three sections from the textbook Reading Literature and Writing Argument and use its topic as your general topic for your research essay: Nature and Place, Family and Identity, or Individuality and Community.



  1. These topics are broad. To create a successful argument, do some preliminary reading and then carefully consider how you might narrow and focus your topic.
  2. The center of your argumentative essay is your ideas and opinions on your topic.  In addition, you will need three outside sources for support. These secondary sources are to be from one or more of these categories:
  • Material from circulating or reference books in the Lone Star College Kingwood Library
  • Material from scholarly databases available through the Lone Star College Kingwood Library
  • Material found in the textbook Reading Literature and Writing Argument.
  1. Read and annotate these three sources and select at least seven direct quotations that support, contradict, or expand your stance and topic.
  2. Then shape your argument (your ideas and quotations from your three outside sources) around your central idea and write a first draft of the essay. As you draft your essay, consider what terms you might need to define, what concrete examples you might use, and what facts or statistics support your claim.  Although you do not have to address each point that does not support your argument, remember that the Rogerian form of argument tries to understand both sides of the topic. You want to shape your argument to be persuasive (and not offensive) to your readers.
  3. You may bring your draft to class on March 8 for advice and assistance.
  4. Use correct MLA documentation. Information about MLA use may be found in Chapter 4 of RLWA.
  5. Create a proper Works Cited page listing the sources you have used in your research essay.
  6. Type your final copy using proper MLA manuscript form and save it electronically.  Print a copy of your essay and turn it in at the start of class on March 10.  In addition, download a copy of your essay into the course dropbox or send an email to with a copy of your essay attached.

A late easay will be accepted on March 22 with an automatic 10-point deduction - for example, a late B paper will earn a C grade.  No essays will be accepted after March 22.


Here are some sample topics by general textbook section:

Nature and Place

  • What can we do to help people around the world have clean water to drink?
  • Is hunting good or bad for the environment?
  • Can we protect wild areas and animals by promoting eco tourism?
  • Does recycling really make a difference?
  • Should all states adopt a deposit on soft drink bottles and cans in order to promote recycling?
  • Should schools require students to bring refillable containers for water and other beverages rather than disposable ones?
  • Should supermarkets charge for plastic bags in order to encourage the use of reusable bags?
  • Does being a vegetarian or vegan help the environment?
  • How can composting help save the environment?
  • What is fracking?  Is fracking worth the risks?  Does fracking hurt drinking water?
  • What is the best way to handle our trash? Are landfills a good idea?
  • What is the best way to encourage alternative energy use? Government regulations? Incentives? Helping companies that produce the products? Advertisement?


Family and Identity

  • Are early marriages more likely to end in divorces?
  • Do elderly people receive better care in retirement homes than with family members?
  • Should hyperactive kids receive medical treatment?
  • Should parents pass tests before homeschooling their kids?
  • Why do people stay in abusive relationships?
  • Is it good to be an only child?
  • Why do some people treat their pets as family members? Is this a good or bad thing?
  • How important are grandparents to children today?
  • How does inter-racial adoption affect a family?
  • How does birth order effect children?
  • Are older people better parents?
  • Do we identify ourselves more by our ethnic identity or by our national identity?
  • Does our ethnic or racial identity impact others’ expectations of us? 
  • Does being gay impact others’ expectations of us?
  • Are there ethnic/racial/gay stereotypes that positively or negatively influence acceptance of us?


Individuality and Community

  • Does the community have rights and needs that supersede      individual rights?
  • Should all public places be equipped with webcams or video cameras?
  • Should the government use invasive pat-downs and body scans to ensure airline passenger safety or are there better methods?
  • What is a hate crime?  Does something like a church arson fit the definition?
  • What is civil disobedience?  Why might it be effective?  Why might it be ineffective?
  • Is breaking the law for a cause justifiable?
  • Should children be required to say the Pledge of Allegiance in schools?
  • What medical information should be confidential?  Why?
  • Does the public have a right to know about a public figure’s private life?
  • Does it take a village to raise a child?
  • Should government impose restrictions on what kinds of foods can be served in school cafeterias?
  • Do children learn better in boys-only and girls-only schools?
  • Are automobile inspections and registrations helpful?  Or should they be abolished?

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