Your final essay is what we have been working toward all semester. In the final essay, you will combine all the different aspects of your research and work to present a strong advocacy argument where you stake out a position, and argue in favor of a solution (or perspective).
Identify your position (or solution).
You do not need to invent your own solution to the problem. It’s usually better if you identify a good possible solution (or a good perspective) that already exists. Here are a few possible (and frequently used) ways to identify your position.
Identify a perspective or solution that has been proposed but not implemented.
Identify a perspective or solution that has been implemented (and works) in one place but has not been widely used everywhere.
Combine the best ideas from several current perspectives or solutions to present your own approach to solving the problem.
Sometimes (but very rarely), none of these approaches will work for a student. Get in touch with me if you cannot seem to use any of the choices above to identify your position.
Organize your research (your sources) to identify which sources will be used as primary sources, and which ones will be used as secondary sources. Some might be used as both.
Primary Sources: are the sources you will use as evidence to support your argument
Secondary Sources: are the sources you will use as context (including counterargument, background, theories, perspectives, etc.).
Using your research, answer the following questions about your argument …
What is the cost/benefit of your solution?
What is the scope of your solution (who will be impacted and how)?
Why is your solution preferable to the alternatives?
You must ensure that your solution (and argument) is feasible and tangible. You can’t make an effective argument for an impossible solution. And, you can’t make an effective argument for a magical goal that doesn’t have tangible outcomes.
For instance, you cannot make an argument that says: “we should make changes to how we live to stop climate change.” You can’t make that argument because it’s a magical goal and not a tangible plan. Make sure your argument is tangible, which means you have to say something like: “taking X action will reduce our carbon emissions by Y amount each year.”
Hint: successful essays often focus on just 1 small part of the bigger problem. It’s easier to say “doing this one thing will solve a little problem, but will make a big difference.” That is a much better approach than saying: “we should do X, Y, and Z, to solve the whole problem.”
Arrange your notes and ideas (from the previous steps – and previous essays). Start by outlining them using the structure of the classical argument we have discussed in class.
Introduction (think context, thesis, and purpose of solution)
Statement of the Facts (think the background and current debate)
Statement of Argument (think main evidence and primary sources)
Counter-Argument (think additional context and perspectives)
Conclusion (think to sum it up and finish with a strong statement of the argument that connects back to the introduction of the solution in the beginning).
One Final Note:
The biggest mistake that students make is not introducing the argument from the beginning.
Sometimes students write a whole bunch of interesting stuff about the background and ideas and perspectives … and then, at the very end, say “and all this stuff is why my solution is the best solution.” Do not arrange your essay so that the argument happens only at the end.
Start with your argument. Present the facts of your argument. Present the evidence for your argument. Present the context and alternate perspectives. And, in the end, conclude your argument. The whole thing is the argument.
The final draft should be 2000-2500 words. It should conform to MLA formatting and include properly formatted works cited page that includes a minimum of 10-15 sources.
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