Research Essay Project


In the I-Search project, you learned how to craft a personalized research process to help you “read in” to a topic that interests you. In this project, you will be asked take those research skills and put them to use in building persuasive arguments about your topic, targeted to a specific audience. In this project, you will compose a researched argument essay, using the argument types outlined in our readings (definition, evaluation, causal, rebuttal, proposal).

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The objective of this paper is to present the findings from your research, composing an argument about the issue you’ve identified within the topic you studied during your I-Search paper. You will be focusing on writing in an “academic tone and style” (rather than the first-person narrative that was used in your I-Search), developing your ethos as researchers by practicing using an “academic voice” to respond to or join the conversation around your research.

To help develop your understanding of academic discourse, we will use a technique called genre analysis to examine publications in undergraduate research journals and discuss them in class. These journals serve as places for students like you to publish their research and participate in a conversation; a conversation that your paper will join.

Assignment Prompt

Your final paper should make the reader feel like the argument you are making is reasonable and persuasive, supported by research-based evidence (a reason it is very important to be strategic with your choice and use of sources, to keep excellent notes on rhetorical analysis of sources, and to sketch out the conversation accurately).

You will integrate data gathered through your research into the conversation that you have already begun to identify in your I-Search project. You will further your knowledge by adding at least 3 new sources to your works cited list (2 scholarly, 1 popular, and any other applicable sources needed).

To successfully complete this essay assignment, you will need to:

  • Make a claim that is based on the argument types we read about in FIAW.
  • Support your claim throughout your essay with examples and evidence gathered through your research methods.
  • Identify and clearly target a specific academic audience with your writing, considering whether that audience is comprised of insiders or outsiders relative to your community of observation.
  • Your essay should also address the purpose you stated in your I-Search project, and the results of your research investigations. Did you find what you expected? Why or why not?  
  • Conclude with avenues for further pursuit: is there an issue or tension you’ve discovered that needs to be further explored? A change you think should be made? More research that needs to be conducted to further pursue your questions?
  • Include a 300-500 word reflection letter after your works cited page (also due on April 2 by midnight)

Learning Objectives

  1. Compose a paper that is appropriate for submission to a real-life academic forum, such as an undergraduate research journal, or even the Rushton Conference here at WSU.
  2. Practice the research strategies you’ve developed in Project 2—posing research questions, figuring out where to look to find the answers we seek, locating and evaluating scholarly and popular sources, reading the conversation (figuring out who’s saying what about your topic, where are there gaps? are scholars not talking about something? what’s missing?) and figuring out how you can contribute.
  3. Demonstrate proficiency in MLA citation style.

Minimum Requirements (what you’ll turn in)

  • 2000-2500 word Final Researched Argument Essay (plus Works Cited)
  • MLA Format
  • Total of 6 secondary sources (3 from the I-Search plus at least 2 additional scholarly sources, 1 popular sources, and any other applicable sources needed)
  • 300-500 word Reflection Blog written to the audience of your choice and addressing the following questions:
    • what was positive and negative about the process of composing Project 3?
    • what Course Learning Outcome did you grow in the most?
    • what is the area of Project 3 that you feel proudest of? Why?

Due Date

Upload to Canvas on April 2, 2018 by 11:59 PM


 Researched Argument Excellent (95) Acceptable (80) Needs Revision (65) Missing (0)
Does the beginning of the essay introduce the topic according to the conventions of the genre?        
Does the beginning of the essay introduce or foreshadow the paper’s argumentative claim? (“I argue that…”)        
Is there an appropriate use of secondary sources to develop a sense of the conversation surrounding the topic?        
Within the paragraphs, are the sources used appropriately as evidence to support the main claim? Do the paragraphs work together to make the overall argument?        
Does the writer discuss the significance and implications of the argument, according to the conventions of this genre?        
Formatting (title, margins, spacing, font, page numbers, indentation)        
Have the writers formatted their essay using MLA style (including in-text and end-text citations)?        
Clear and Effective Writing        
Has the essay been edited and polished for presentation?        

After successfully completing this project, students should be able to:


  • Use key course concepts (genre and rhetoric) to write effectively
    • You’ll practice demonstrating an understanding of the features of academic research writing and demonstrating appropriate use of rhetorical strategies for academic research writing
  • Use a flexible writing process that includes brainstorming/inventing ideas, planning, drafting, giving and receiving feedback, revising, editing, and publishing.
    • You’ll practice working through brainstorming, drafting, response, reflection, and revision activities in class and for homework to develop ideas and refine your writing


  • Use reading strategies in order to identify, analyze, evaluate, and respond to arguments, rhetorical elements and genre conventions in college-level texts and other media.
    • You’ll practice reading, analyzing, evaluating, and responding to sources, thinking about how they provide information and perspectives integral to a discussion of the topic.


  • Conduct research by finding and evaluating print, electronic, and other sources;
    • You’ll practice using the library databases to identify relevant and sufficient resources for the project.
  • Generate information and ideas from research;
    • You’ll practice articulating the conversation (be able to present a brief review of the literature), formulating a response to the conversation, articulating stance or argument
    • You’ll practice summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting relevant information from sources.
  • Appropriately integrate material from sources.
    • You’ll practice using MLA format to integrate in-text citations and a works cited page.
    • You’ll practice using academic writing conventions for introducing sources material and linking back to writer’s argument


  • Use written reflection to plan, monitor, and evaluate one’s own learning and writing.
    • You’ll practice using reflection to articulate prior knowledge and knowledge gaps in order to form research questions.
    • You’ll practice using post-project reflection to evaluate your research and writing process.


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