Dr. McMahand


English Composition


Essay Three: Argument and Research

This essay assignment requires building a persuasive argument about a current or longstanding social problem or controversy.  Your argument needs to articulate a clear position on the controversy and draw upon logic, reasoning, as well as thoughtful, credible research. 


Criteria for Essay Three

·         Must be four to five pages in length

·         Must correctly follow MLA formatting and documentation

·         Must contain at least three sources but no more than five

·         Topics must be focused, not trite, nor polarizing.  Off-limits: abortion, the legal drinking age, euthanasia, gun control, capital punishment, school prayer, Confederate flag, affirmative action, and stem cell research

·         Thesis must be argumentative, with something to prove, a controversy involving two sides.  Thesis must be consequential in construction, with the B term causing, compelling, or reinforcing the C term. 



·         working thesis

·         two-sentence description of two or three articles you plan to cite

·         three or four reasons explaining your position

·         one paragraph in length, typed, well edited

·         the two or three articles attached


General Plan and Structure of Essay


·         General topic—Disclose the controversy.

·         Address Question at Issue—Discuss the multiple sides and viewpoints of the controversy.  You should also pare the discussion down to the two sides that you intend to argue about in the thesis and body paragraphs.

·         Thesis—Craft a consequential (not policy) statement with a controversial B term and a C term that offers reasoning and suggests resolution.

The First Body Paragraph

·         Define terms, issues, and the opposing side.

·         Give needed background information.

Subsequent Body Paragraphs

·         Provide reasons and claims for the position that you have chosen, using:

                                    Causal connections (solutions, predictions, causations)


                                    Facts and Examples

                                    Expert Opinions

·         Point and Counterpoint.  Dedicate half a page to fairly laying out the opponent’s argument and as much space rationally countering the opposition.

Alternative Subsequent Paragraphs Model

·         Provide reasons and claims for the position that you have chosen, using:

                                    Causal connections (solutions, predictions, causations)


                                    Facts and Examples

                                    Expert Opinions

·         Point and Counterpoint.  Disperse your rebuttal to the opposition’s argument throughout your subsequent body paragraphs.  You may begin with the opposition then counter it or begin with your position and then explain why it is a superior position to that of the opposition.


Restate in different language the thesis and the major reasons.  Include inquiry for further study, research, or discussion.  

Works Cited

Your Works Cited page, correctly formatted and edited, follows the text that contains proper citations within the text. 


Topics for Essay Three

Many of these controversies are exceptionally current and ongoing in their development.  Therefore, much, if not all, of your research will come from newspapers, weekly periodicals, and online journals.  Do not use blogs or other personalized webpages.  Also, remember that several of these topics contain subtopics that could stand alone as the focus of your research and argument.  So try to narrow your focus to argument and research to a discussion that you can fully and thoroughly address with the required page limit.  


1.      the ethics of the pornography industry

*(How) should the government track or regulate the porn industry?

*Does porn damage or enable its subjects and viewers?  Does porn do more harm than help or vice versa? 

*What (if any) porn is protected free speech?

2.      gender assignment for (infant) intersex people

*At what age should a parent or doctor assign gender to a child with ambiguous genitalia?

3.      the ethics of the U. S. Patriot Act

4.      the limits and ethics of the National Security Agency and federal spying

*Is the intrusiveness of the federal spying program justified by its capacity to avert terror plots?

*To what extent does the NSA threaten American civil liberties and Constitutional rights?

5.      Foucaultean tracking devices/parental tracking devices

*Do parents have the right to track their teenaged children?

6.      Should state governments be allowed to criminalize the use of salvia?

7.      same sex marriage/civil unions

*On what legal basis do state governments propose to deny or dismantle gay marriage?

*How does gay marriage challenge the Constitutional right of religious autonomy?

* Should same-sex marriage be abolished in favor of civil unions?

8.      gay parent adoption

*Should the Catholic Church or other religious institutions be forced to consider gay parents as adoption candidates?

9.      federal funding for National Endowment of the Arts (NEA)

8.   the national homeless crisis

9.   pro-anorexia movement

      *Do pro-ana websites deserve the same protection under the First Amendment just as other

      forms of protected speech receive?

10. racial profiling in police work

      *How justifiable is “stop and frisk” and how effective is the practice in deterring crime? 

      *Does “stop and frisk” violate Constitutional rights?

11.  racial profiling in national security

      *Weigh individual rights against public safety and homeland security

12.  mainstreaming special needs children

13.  alternative high schools for marginal populations—“at risk” students and gay students

14.  hate crime legislation for racial, national, and sexual minorities

15.  single race specification for multiracial individuals

16.  body dysmorphic disorder in men and women, complicated by the media and excessive plastic surgery

*What solutions should society seek in alleviating at-risk individuals?

17.  the exploded problem of bullying in high school/school bullying policies

*How effective or fair are zero tolerance policies?

*Are there alternative programs that work as well as zero tolerance?

*How responsible are teachers, administrators, and other students in combating bullying?

*Suggest a series of solutions for the epidemic spread of bullying and teen suicides

*Is cyberbullying protected free speech?

*Should federal, state, or local governments enact anti-cyberbully laws?

18.  college hazing

*How responsible are college administrators, fraternity, and sorority leaders in curbing excessive hazing?

*Should colleges and universities restrict or abolish hazing or respect it as tradition?

*How effective or fair is zero tolerance in college hazing cases?

*How can colleges and universities improve restriction and preventative measures against hazing?

19. the construction of women in contemporary media as mindless, vapid, and superficial

      *as obsessed with consumerism, pathological dieting, celebrity, and plastic surgery

20. the sexual exploitation of women by pop and hip hop music videos, mass media,

      and tabloid journalism

21. cyber sex predatorialism—prosecution and policies regarding sex Internet pedophiles

      *Should we disallow, outlaw, bar web cams from children?        

      *To what extent should society hold teenagers culpable for participating in or

      producing Internet pornography, i.e. the Justin Berry case?

      *To what extent should parents pay punitively for the actions of their porn-producing


      * How far should the law prosecute adolescents and young adults for “sexting”?

22. Illegal immigration

      *Debate the ethics of the proposed Dream Act?

      *Weigh in on the amnesty proposition for illegal immigrants.

      *Weigh in on the Arizona laws and practices

23. Legalization of prostitution

      *How might state governments and sex workers benefit from such legalization?

      *What unforeseen consequences come with such legalization?

24. Internet brides from third world nations

      *Is the practice more an advanced form of international dating or sex trafficking?

25. sex slavery and trafficking in the United States

26. argumentative solutions for the methamphetamine (meth) crisis   

27. possible prosecution for bug chasing, the ethical and legal consequences

28. the controversial plight of Native Americans on reservations

      *What are the pros and cons of Casinos?  Which outweigh the other?

29. healthcare reform

      *Should employers be able to opt out of providing certain benefits such as contraception and

      abortion because of religious objections?

30. disclosure of sex offenders in any given community—repeal, sustain, or alter?

      *Does the sex registry prevent sex offenders from re-entering the mainstream?

      *Does the registry go far enough in protecting children and other potential victims?

31.  the plight of US war vets and service people

      *Offer solutions to the rampant homelessness, low job rate, spousal abuse, and suicide


32. U.S. obesity crisis among adults

      *causes and recommendations

      *Explore the tension between governmental intervention (nanny-state) and individual


33. U.S. obesity crisis among children

      *solutions for the problem

      *Should obese children in some instances be removed from parental care?

      *Explore the tension between governmental intervention (nanny-state) and individual


34. the legalization of marijuana in selected states

      *the projected benefits and unforeseen costs and consequences of such legalization

35. prescription drug abuse among college students (Adderall, Molly, ecstasy, etc.)

      *How do schools and parents raise awareness and combat the problem?

36. the epidemic spike in heroin use in the U.S.

37. the New Core of Higher Critical Standards

      * how best to implement

      * the possible benefits and detriments of this new national education plan

      * federal government overreach or the solution to America’s educational decline

38.  the prosecution of marijuana drug offenses

39.  Does the NFL need to change the game?

      *repercussions of high impact head injury

      *reparations/settlements for concussions

      *the responsibility of players and league officials in increasing the game’s violence

40. the level of safety in children’s sports, especially football and soccer

41. the double standard for student athletes in high school and college

42. the rising costs of college

      * causes (inflation, state budget cuts, ballooning administration staffs and salaries, college


      *solutions and recommendations