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Paper #3--The Persuasive Research Paper

We will be working on the Persuasive Research Paper for the next two units.  Please keep in mind that this is the longest paper you will write for this class.  (This paper is also worth more of your grade than others in this course.)  

In the Persuasive Research Paper, you will simply want to take a position on an issue of your choice, using research to support your position and to try to convince others to adopt your position.  This paper should be at least 4-6 pages long (at least 1000-1500 words), it should include at least four sources, and it should accomplish the following:

*State your audience.

*Clearly articulate your position as well as the reasons why you hold this position, using evidence to support the validity of your stance.

*Present information confidently and efficiently.

*Use established information for support, as well as personal “evidence” (if applicable) such as short anecdotes and examples from your own experience, or the experience of others.

*Maintain a persuasive tone that will be accessible (not alienating or insulting) to your particular audience.

***IMPORTANT NOTE: Papers on the following topics will not be accepted:  * abortion* capital punishment* euthanasiaI've already read more papers on these topics than anyone should in an entire lifetime, so I won't read anymore.  I encourage you to be more creative in selecting your topic.  ***

Part I:  Invention

*Note:  Please complete this week's reading assignment before continuing with this lecture.

Your book offers a variety of topic suggestions for the Persuasive Research Paper.  You’ve probably noticed at all of the topics in the book deal with controversial issues.  This is always true of persuasive research topics.  After all, if everyone already agrees on something, why would you need to persuade them?

All of these topics work well for these paper, so feel free to consider any of the suggestions in the book. 

Notice that there are really no limits in terms of your topics for this paper.  However, you do want to pick something that is specific-enough in focus, so that you can adequately cover the topic in 4-6 pages (at least 1000-1500 words). 

Your topics for this paper, in my class, can also be related to national current events, national policies, or issues of national debate (other than the specific topics that I have warned again in the "Assignment" section).  Alternatively, your topic can be focused on a local or workplace issues.  I do, however, have two important recommendations:   

1.) Try to steer away from topics that have already been beaten to death or that are impossible to prove using logic or evidence.  For instance, "abortion" has been written about so much that it's difficult for someone to say anything new.  Likewise, issues of faith (such as "why everyone should be a part of X religion") are also problematic, as they are issues of faith.  Since "faith" by nature means that you believe in something even though you can't prove it, topics related to faith don't work very well for the Persuasive Research Paper.

2.) Choose something you care about.  Once again, the best writing has passion and conviction behind it.  And, in this paper, you may spend a little time discussing your personal connection or personal stake in the issue.  In fact, I highly recommend that you do include at least a brief discussion of your personal connection/stake, as this makes the paper more interesting, creative, and individualized.

Our reading this week in Chapter 6 offers you examples of position papers and a detailed discussion of the strategies you may use in crafting your own paper.  The Guide to Writing section at the end of this chapter is designed to help you choose your topic and find the sources that you need.  (“Sources” for this paper can include dictionaries, encyclopedias, internet articles, magazine or newspaper articles, books, etc.)

Please study the Guide to Writing (especially the first few pages of this section) carefully and use the steps described to prepare yourself to write this paper.  Part II:  Drafting

The Persuasive Research Paper must be 4-6 pages long (at least 1000-1500 words).  You'll want to provide a clear position and compelling reasons and support for this position.  You will also want to anticipate the objections and opposing positions that you might get in reaction to your paper.  But how do you organize all of this?

Keep your textbook handy for references in this lecture.


Your first two paragraphs should do two things:

1.) Engage the reader and capture their interest.

In terms of capturing the readers interest, you want a good "hook"--something that will make the reader want to keep reading, even if they disagree with you.  "Children Need to Play, Not Compete" opens with history and emotion, summarizing problems that have developed with children's sports. "Sticks and Stones and Sport Team Names" uses a short personal narrative (a story from the author's life) to hook the reader.  "Working at McDonald's" opens with a direct, bold statement, designed to surprise the reader as to its full meaning.  (Also note how some of the titles of the essays in your book may act as "hooks.")

For those with older editions of our textbook:  In the 8th edition, "Boys Here, Girls There" opens with a brief summary of a current controversy followed by a provocative question. In the 7th edition, "Why Shouldn't Society Treat Substance Abusers" (pages 246-247) uses the imagine-move (Imagine that . . . ) to draw readers in during the first paragraph, as well as the question-move.  Sometimes, opening up with one clear, compelling question or a series of questions can be a very effective strategy for hooking the reader. "Adventures in Equality" (pages 249-252) opens with a dramatic summary of the conflict regarding the issue.  

2.) Make your position (or thesis statement) clear. 

Notice that in each of these essays, the author's position is make clear in either the first or the second paragraph.  You will want to do the same.  Also, notice how the thesis is restated in several places in the paper, reminding readers of the author's stance in the middle of the paper and at the end, in the conclusion.


The body of your paper should offer at least 2-3 logical reasons and convincing support for your position. 

You will probably want to devote the first paragraph of this section to foreshadowing each of your reasons.  Here's an example:  There are three reasons why capital punishment should be abolished.  It is an inhumane procedure that causes unmeasurable suffering.  It is a practice that devalues human life.  It is costly and unsuccessful as a deterant of crime. 

The following paragraphs would then discuss each of these reasons one-by-one, devoting at least 1-2 paragraphs to each reason. Within each paragraph, you'll want to provide supporting evidences (facts, statistics, examples, stories, etc.)  You will also want to consider opposing arguments--how the opposing side would respond to each of your reasons.  And, you want to refute the opposing side's reasons (explain or show why you're right and they're wrong.)


In the conclusion, you want to reemphasize your position and summarize your points.  In other words, you want to wrap everything up and tie it with a pretty bow.  Reexamine the final few paragraphs of each of the essays in Chapter 6 for examples.

Student Example: Persuasive Research Paper

Erica Alfaro

Breastfeeding: Best for Moms, Babies and the Environment 

Is breast truly best?  Deciding how to nourish their baby is one of the first of many important decisions parents will make regarding the health of their infant.  Parents can either choose to feed their baby with commercially manufactured baby formula, or they can do what humans have been doing for thousands of years and breastfeed their infant.  Up until the twentieth century, there wasn’t much of a decision to be made.  Babies were either breastfed by their mothers or wet nurses or they would starve to death.  In 1869, the first commercially produced infant formula was invented by Justus von Leibig.  Infant formula was originally intended to provide babies with nutrition when their mother’s could not.  By 1950, due to convenience, low price and apparent nutritional superiority, over half of all American babies were being fed infant formula and by 1970 over 75 percent were being formula fed (Warner).  Recently, though, breastfeeding has been making a slow comeback.  Parents are re-learning what mothers have known for thousands of years:  that breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed their babies.

            Although the composition of infant formula has come a long way since its invention in the late 1800’s, breast milk is still far superior for many reasons.  First and most important, breast milk is specially formulated by a mother for her individual baby.  It contains properties which protect the child from illness and disease, boosts IQ and promotes emotional growth (Spangler 3).  Breastfeeding also has advantages for the mother.  It reduces the risk of certain cancers and increases bone thickness which reduces the risk of osteoporosis (Spangler 1).  Breastfeeding is also costs nothing and reduces the strain on our already stressed earth.

            One of the biggest advantages of breastfeeding is the breast milk produced by each mother is specifically designed to nourish her own infant.  It is easily digested so breastfed babies have less stomach upsets and it changes to meet the needs of the baby as it grows (Spangler 3).  Breast milk contains 100 ingredients that formula manufacturers are unable to reproduce (Perkins).  The most important of these ingredients are antibodies, or immunoglobulins.  In his article “How Breast Milk Protects Newborns,” Dr. Jack Newman explains how antibodies actively protect newborns from various infections.  As the baby breastfeeds, the antibodies produced by the mother in response to her environment are passed to the baby.  Some of the cells attach themselves to the intestines and block harmful microbes from entering the baby’s system.  Other cells stimulate the baby’s own immune system so that he will be better equipped to fight the ear infections, colds and stomach bugs that infants are so often exposed to.  The result is a healthier infant who is less likely to contract many of the illnesses he is exposed to on a daily basis (Newman). 

            Breastfeeding has also been shown to reduce other diseases which usually occur later in life.  According to the article “Breastfeeding May Help Prevent Obesity, Diabetes,” a study conducted at the University of South Carolina compared 80 children diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes.  The results of the study suggest that breastfeeding lowers the risk of childhood obesity and therefore lowers the risk of developing type 2 Diabetes later in life (Babycenter).  Other studies have been conducted that strongly suggest that breastfeeding protects children against Crohn’s disease, Hodgkin’s disease and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (Disease).  More recent studies of older children and adults have led experts to believe that breastfeeding offers some protection against heart disease, stroke, hypertension and auto-immune disease (Wight). 

            Not only are breastfed babies healthier as children and adults, but they may also be smarter, as several recent studies have indicated breastfeeding increases a child’s IQ score.  In a study of 3,000 children, breastfeeding was shown to produce an IQ score of about 7 points above average if the child has a certain variation of the FADS2 gene.  According to Julia Kim-Cohen, assistant professor of psychology at Yale University, the gene is the crucial factor in determining how a child’s body processes the fatty acids contained in breast milk.  In children where the gene variation is present, the body processes the fatty acid more efficiently and promotes better brain development (IQ).  Some researchers also suspect the higher IQ scores are related to the increased interaction between breast fed babies and their mothers.  Since breast milk is digested so easily, breast fed babies must be fed more often and therefore they receive more direct human contact which is thought to increase intelligence (Sears). 

            Aside from being the best way to feed infants, breastfeeding also has immediate advantages for mothers.  Breastfeeding signals the brain to release oxytocin, a hormone that causes the uterus to contract after birth which prevents excessive bleeding and helps the uterus return to its normal size.  Breastfeeding also signals the brain to release prolactin.  This hormone produces a calming effect in the mother which helps her nurture and bond with her baby (Spangler 2).  Breastfeeding also burns calories, helping new moms lose the weight they gained during pregnancy.  A bottle feeding mom would have to swim 30 laps or bike uphill for one hour to burn the calories that a breastfeeding mom uses just while sitting and feeding her baby (Dermer). 

In addition to the immediate benefits of breastfeeding, nursing moms also enjoy many long term effects.  Breastfeeding reduces a mother’s risk of developing cancer of the breast, uterus and ovaries (Spangler 1).  In fact, by breastfeeding a total of 6 to 24 months during her life a woman can reduce her chance of breast cancer by almost 25 percent (Dermer).  A study conducted at Yale University suggests that breastfeeding for longer than 24 months could reduce a mother’s risk of breast cancer by 50 percent (Breastfeeding).  In addition to offering protection against cancer, breastfeeding also reduces the risk of osteoporosis and hip fractures by improving bone thickness.  While a breastfeeding mother may lose calcium while nursing, her bone density will rise to her pre pregnancy level or even higher after the baby is weaned (Dermer). 

Breastfeeding also offers families an economic advantage.  The average formula fed infant consumes at least $1000.00 worth of infant formula during the first year of life.  Since breastfed babies tend to get sick less frequently, they will save their parents about $400.00 a year in healthcare costs.  Fewer illnesses also mean that the parents will miss fewer days of work therefore lessening the amount of wages a parent will lose (Spangler 2). 

Breastfeeding is great for babies and mothers but breastfeeding can also impact our environment.  The production of infant formula requires the use of many natural resources such as coal, gas and oil.  Infant formula production also requires cow’s milk, paper, aluminum and other materials.  Manufacturing infant formula puts unnecessary strain on our environment.  Breast milk doesn’t need to be manufactured and shipped to consumers.  There are no byproducts and there is no packaging to end up in a landfill (Spangler 2).  Breastfeeding is the most eco-friendly way to feed a baby.

For many years mothers have used their breasts to feed their babies.  Only recently have women started to abandon their maternal instincts and rely on breast milk substitutes to feed their infants.  Infant formula manufacturers have been trying to duplicate breast milk for over 100 years with little success. Breast milk contains antibodies to protect against illness and just the right nutrition to help babies thrive.  Although infant formula can sustain babies and help them grow, it should by no means be the standard.   Though the saying may seem cliché, breast is truly best.

Works Cited

“Breastfeeding Boosts IQ In Infants With 'Helpful' Genetic Variant.” Science Daily. 6 Nov.

2007. Duke University. 26 Apr. 2008 <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/


“Breastfeeding May Help Prevent Obesity, Diabetes.” Babycenter. 13 Mar. 2008. 26 Apr.

2008 < http://www.babycenter.com/204_breastfeeding-may-help-prevent-obesity-


“Disease Prevention.” Breastfeeding.com. 2008. 26 Apr. 2008 <http://www.breastfeeding.com/


Dermer, Alicia. “A Well-Kept Secret: Breastfeeding's Benefits to Mothers.” La Leche League

International Webpage. 14 Oct. 2007. La Leche League International. 26 Apr. 2008


Less Chance of Breast Cancer and Other Cancers.” Breastfeeding.com. 2008. 26 Apr. 2008


Newman, Jack. “How Breastfeeding Protects Newborns.” Breastfeeding Online. 2006. Cindy

Curtis. 26 April 2008. <http://www.breastfeedingonline.com/HowBreastmilkProtects


Perkins, Sharon. “Comparing Formula and Breastmilk.” Breastfeeding for Dummies. 2008. 26

Apr. 2008 <http://www.dummies.com/WileyCDA/DummiesArticle/Comparing-Formula-


Sears, William. “Breastfeeding Builds Brighter Brains.” AskDrSears Homepage. 2006. 26 Apr.

2008 <http://askdrsears.com/html/2/T020200.asp>.

Spangler, Amy. Breastfeeding: A Parent’s Guide. Cincinatti: Specialty Lithographing Co,


Warner, Detlef. “The History of Baby Formula.” EzineArticles. 9 Feb. 2008. 26 Apr.                                

2008 <http://ezinearticles.com/?The-History-Of-Baby-Formula&id=977160>.

Wight, Nancy A. The Benefits of Breastfeeding. Oct. 1997. San Diego County Breastfeeding

Coalition. 26 Apr. 2008 <http://www.breastfeeding.org/articles/benefits.html>.

MLA Documentation: A Simplified Approach

MLA Documentation is simply a standardized method of citing your sources.  In general, when you use source material, you’ll want to do several things.

Within the text of your paper . . .

1.)  When you are using a source for the first time, introduce your source so that we can understand his or her credibility.  According to Joe Smith, a computer programmer at VacuTech, “Programming is difficult” (Smith 2).

2.)  When you quote the same source later in the paper (after he/she has been introduced), use a standard attribute tag.  Smith went on to say that “DOS is especially difficult for many beginning users” (Smith 3).

3.)  In addition to these informal methods of citation, you will need to use parenthetical citations whenever you are quoting a source directly and whenever you are using a source’s ideas, even if you are putting them in your own words.  Smith explained that there are three keys to good programming:  be patient, be practical, be persistent (Smith 2).

Additional Notes/Questions about In-Text Citations

*But what if the author of the article is not the person that I am quoting?  What if I'm quoting someone who the author quoted in her article?

If the person you are quoting is not the author, just do the same as in number 1 above, but when you get to the parenthetical citation use the author's name instead of the name of the person you are quoting.  For instance, if Lou Brown had written the article above, and merely quoted Joe Smith, you would do this: According to Joe Smith, a computer programmer at VacuTech, “Programming is difficult” (Brown 2).

*But what if the article has no author?

If the article has no author, just do the same as above, but use a keyword from the article title in the parenthetical citation.  For instance, if the article we quoted above had no author, but we knew the title was "Programming for Beginners," we would cite it like this: According to Joe Smith, a computer programmer at VacuTech, “Programming is difficult” ("Beginners" 2).

At the end of your paper . . .

At the end of your paper, you’ll need to include a Works Cited page, which will offer an extended reference for each of the sources you used in your paper.  Use the MLA guide in the assigned reading for this week to determine how to cite each of your individual sources. PLEASE NOTE:  Though the sample essay "Love: The Right Chemistry" offers a great deal in terms of teaching us about strategy and structure, it does not include formal intext MLA citations or a final Works Cited page.  These are requirements for most academic research papers, including the Explaining a Concept Research Paper for this class.  For a good example of a paper that uses the MLA System of Documentation correctly, please be sure to carefully review the sample student essay in your textbook entitled "Educating Kids at Home," which is part of our assigned reading for this week.  This sample essay also includes very helpful annotated notes, identifying and explaining the ways the author has incorporated her citations.

For more information on MLA documentation on the web, go to:


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