Government homework help

Government homework help.

Assignment: Brainstorm Paper Topic

Your first task, then, is to come up with a focused topic you’d like to write your issues paper on. As you can see, I am encouraging you to lean toward a topic that really matters to you. But that shouldn’t be your only criteria. You should also pick a topic that fits these guidelines:

  • It’s about which there is disagreement and/or multiple perspectives.
  • It’s sufficiently narrow enough to be researched, yet not too narrow that you cannot find sources for it.
  • It has broad public implications. (Don’t pick a topic that would interest only you.)

This last point is important. Remember that you are a member of an arguing public—a swirl of people with various opinions on volatile issues that affect us all. Think of this issues paper as an opportunity to persuade the people around you to adopt an opinion or behavior related to your topic.
Consider these pairs of topics:

  • internet relationships vs. comment dialogues on fan sites for the vampire movie Twilight
  • texting vs. the public safety hazard of texting while driving
  • social media vs. Twitter’s role in Egypt’s social unrest in early 2011

The second topic in each pair seems more focused and more interesting. You will have more success as a researcher if you can sufficiently narrow your topic early in the research process.
Once you settle on a focused topic, you need to barrage it with questions. Try this exercise: write/type your topic at the top of a blank page. Now write down at least twenty questions related to that topic. Use the questions journalists are taught: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Who is involved or influenced by your topic? What kind of topic is this? When did this topic become interesting? Where in the country or world does this topic matter most? How does this topic relate to college students? Notice that these questions relate to classical rhetorical terms like topoi, kairos, stases, and heuristic you read about in Kristine Hansen’s chapter on invention in Writing and Rhetoric. Use her common topics categories, as well as the questions she uses on p. 127, to help you generate ideas for your Issues Paper. Save your brainstorming to include in your Issues Paper Portfolio.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a solid Issues Paper focus or a clear argument at this point. As you do your research, you may whittle down, revise, settle on, or completely discard the topic you begin with. But we have to start somewhere.
As you read more about your topic, you will begin to recognize the common problems or issues related to that topic. In The Craft of Research, Wayne Booth, Gregory Colomb, and Joseph Williams suggest that we make research writing effective when we move from topics to questions to problems to sources. We start with a topic, like online learning. But this is far too broad a topic to write about, so we do some quick Internet reading and soul searching and end up with a much more focused and interesting topic: YouTube as a math tutor. Now that we have a topic, we pose questions of this topic until we get to a workable question, like this: how has YouTube changed the way math is taught?
This is a pretty good question since the answer is going to be much more complicated than yes or no. We will need to do research to find the answer. But why would we want to answer the question in the first place? In what rhetorical situation does this question exist? In other words, why would it be important to us to answer this question? We’ll talk more about the issue of rhetorical situation in the next lesson, but for now we might think of the significance of the issue this way: Children in the United States, who score lower than other industrialized countries in the world in math, may benefit from a new media approach to math.
This proposition makes the YouTube topic significant to others. Booth, Colomb, and Williams then suggest you sum up your research question this way:
I want to study math on YouTube for these reasons:

  • I want to find out how YouTube has changed the way math is taught . . . 
  • I want to help my readers better understand how new media contributes to or helps alleviate the current education crisis (p. 56).

Getting to this point will take time, careful thought, research, and a little writing. But keep this general structure in mind, since it will be useful to you as you begin your research.
Please save your brainstorming activities to turn in with your Issues Paper Portfolio in lesson 14. You may have several pages of notes from your brainstorming activities, but just include one of the more important pages in your portfolio. Show your instructor, for example, the questions you asked your topic and your early attempts to make your topic meaningful.

Planning Your Research

You have read Rebecca Moore Howard’s introduction to planning research in Writing Matters. Forming a research plan is especially important in this course because you will need to be self-motivated to complete the writing task. I suggest that right now you pick a date on your calendar when you will turn in different parts of your rough draft. Notice that your intro and thesis are due with lesson 11 and a draft with lesson 13. On campus, we usually have students hand in rough drafts after about two weeks of instruction on the Issues Paper. The specific date is not as important as simply having one as a goal to shoot for.
As you may already know from your high school or pre-college schooling, research writing takes time—lots of it. It takes time to come up with a topic, to collect and read and evaluate sources, and to write it all up. No matter what your time frame, from this moment on you should spend some time each day thinking about your project—brainstorming, reading, taking notes, and drafting. As you embark on this project, you’ll need to make some important decisions at the outset. For example, how will you keep track of your sources? Rookies to writing research projects often find great sources and then promptly forget where they found them and/or why they were important. Decide now how you are going to keep track of all your sources. You may want to use Google Docs or Microsoft Word and simply list sources as you find them. Other programs like EndNote, Zotero, or Diigo can help you keep track of your sources (including pages from the web) digitally and online. Since these programs tend to come and go, the safest way to get started is to experiment.

Assignment: Evaluate Sources and Narrowing Down Your Topic

In the next lesson we will discuss how to find and evaluate sources. For now, as you start browsing the web for sources related to your topic, remember to keep track of the most promising sources by (1) jotting down where you got the source (using the MLA citation information) and (2) summarizing, somewhere in your notes, the main point of the source and how it might relate to your project.
Though your instructor will not ask you to submit a focused topic and research plan, we highly recommend that you do not move to lesson 10 until you have both.

Assignment: Introduction and Thesis

Once you feel you have enough relevant sources to begin the writing task, draft an introduction where you apply the principles you learned in this lesson. Take a look at the student example in the Supplemental Guide, pp. 37–48. Look particularly at how the student lays out the argument in three introductory paragraphs using all the steps above. (Yes, you can use more than one paragraph for your introduction!) Remember the strategies you learned in previous lessons about engaging the reader from the very start. Save your introduction draft to include in your issues paper portfolio. As you start the drafting process, review the grading criteria on the rubric in the Supplemental Guide, pp. 49–50.
Please type your introduction and thesis (single- or double-spaced) and save it in .doc or .docx format and save it to include in your Issues Paper Portfolio, due in lesson 14.

Assignment: Issues Paper Rough Draft

Your draft should be complete—in other words, it should have an introduction with thesis, a middle with researched evidence, a conclusion, and a works cited page. Please format it using MLA document design guidelines. The assignment should be kept within eight to ten pages (double-spaced). The student example on pp. 37–48 of the Supplemental Guide should act as your model. You may want to include questions or concerns you have about your paper that you’d like to bring to the attention of the instructor in the comments box. Once you have completed your draft, please submit it to the Instructor and TA for feedback. You will receive the full 10 points for this assignment by turning in a complete draft (that is, introduction and thesis, several supporting paragraphs, and conclusion). Save a final copy of your rough draft to be submitted in the Issues Paper portfolio in lesson 14 (so I can see both the rough draft and final draft together).


You will have the opportunity to conduct three reviews of rough drafts of the Issues Paper after you upload your rough draft for a grade and emailed your paper for review from a TA.
You may want to use that feedback to help you finish your final draft of the Issues Paper (submitted in lesson 14).

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