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The Assignment

For Paper Five, you are going to solve some type of problem, provided it is complex enough to lend itself to an analysis of several possible solutions, by selecting a significant topic and researching credible sources in the library. Proposals call for all the academic writing skills we have practiced during the semester: summary, paraphrase, comparison and contrast, evaluation / critique, and analysis / explication of divergent points of view expressed in multiple sources, documented correctly according to the MLA format. As always, the specific choice of topic is yours, and the best place to look would be your major.

In business, industry, and academe, proposals are written to offer solutions to very specific (and, often, very expensive) problems, which must be explicitly / systematically stated and have their seriousness credibly established. Hence, the main purpose of a proposal is to convince readers that the writer’s proposed solution is the best way of solving the problem by giving reasons and support to show the proposed solution will most effectively solve the problem. Therefore, writers generally set out the steps required to put the proposal into real world practice, especially when the solution might seem difficult, time consuming, or expensive to implement. Another important part of the proposal is that the writer, using a reasonable tone, must convince readers that the proposed solution is preferable to other possible solutions by examining them and demonstrating what is completely or partially wrong with them. Therefore, you will need at least 3 sources for the paper.

Fortunately, for those who must write them, the Proposal follows a specific (if somewhat quirky) organizational formula.


1) The INTRODUCTION paragraph in a Proposal contains a special type of thesis statement called a “Review of the Controversy.” Unlike the traditional thesis, its purpose in a Proposal is not so much to advance a particular opinion as it is to provide focus / shape for the various facts already present in your source materials. To write a Review of the Controversy thesis statement, include the following information in this order:

A) briefly define the problem, B) list the three (3) to six (6) authors names (you may alphabetize this section by authors’ last names), their source titles, and their solutions YOU WILL REJECT AS POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS TO YOUR PROBLEM around which you will objectively compare and contrast the authors’ interpretive approaches (to help justify your own solution authoritatively, thoroughly, and persuasively), and C) indicate that you have a favored solution which is different from the three (3) to six (6) you just listed, but do not state it explicitly yet, saving it for the discussion in the SOLUTION. The important thing is that all of this information be included.

2) After the Introduction, paragraph two will be a SUMMARY of the most important features of the problem. Again, list the potential / proposed three (3) to six (6) solutions to which your authors refer THAT YOU WILL REJECT, organizing the remaining Body paragraphs of your paper sequentially around them. But, limit your summary to the actions which the authors feel will directly impact the effectiveness of your problem. Again, indicate that you have a different favorite solution for which you will argue in the SOLUTION, but do not explicitly state it yet. (NB: In a Proposal, it is usual for this paragraph often to be very short, between two and four sentences. Its purpose is to provide, in a bit more detail, both the problem and the solutions as stated in the Introduction, but in less detail than the Body paragraphs. Therefore, it automatically has a certain repetitiveness built into it, which is fine. This is simply part of the form of the Proposal.)

3) In each of the BODY paragraphs for your three (3) to six (6) solutions, A) summarize / paraphrase the pertinent authors’ perspectives / views on the proposed solutions, then B) analyze them in terms of evidence and reasoning, C) using your analysis to reflectively reach and persuasively justify your judgment / stance indicating why you rejected each solution, a position that D) should be supported with your own reasons, evidence, and any applicable examples that prove which solutions are better than others. Be sure to use parenthetical citations to indicate where one author’s viewpoint ends and another author’s view begins.

4) After you have finished critiquing your rejected three (3) to six (6) solutions, the next paragraph, called the SOLUTION, will detail your favorite solution, the one you believe addresses the problem in the most appropriate / effective / feasible manner, and the one you’ve been tempting the reader with throughout the Proposal. In making the argument for your favorite solution, exactly as you acknowledged other valid interpretations of your primary source in Paper Four, you need to acknowledge the ideas of any other authors which are in direct opposition to yours. This is to establish your credibility and provide additional support for your evidence by answering any possible objections. Obviously, be sure to support your views with your own logic and reasoning and to utilize applicable information (statistics, data, and evidence of whatever sort) from the various texts.

5) The CONCLUSION explains the significance / relevance of your topic using a specific type of ending called a “Statement of the Subject’s Significance.” To write it, simply A) objectively restate your thesis by briefly defining the problem (in different words than in the Introduction), B) including both the solutions you rejected and your favored one, while C) placing the issue in a broader context within whatever field it happens to apply. Again, the problem for which you are writing the Proposal will help determine its overall significance / relevance, will vary with each paper, and will be very obvious.

6) Include a Works Cited page that uses the correct MLA 8 form for each different type of source. Remember, if you cite a source in the text of any academic paper, you must have a corresponding bibliographic entry on the Works Cited page and vice versa! Failure to do so could subject you to legal charges of plagiarism!


The length of the paper is four (4) to seven (7) pages NOT including the Works Cited page and is worth 25% of your final grade. Obviously, you will need to have a topic by the time of your individual conference. Though there is no limit to the number of sources you may use, incorporate a minimum of three (3) sources.

All materials used in Paper Five must be submitted in a 9” x 12” clasp envelope. These materials must include:

1) Documentation of all resources by photocopying of the title pages from all printed

sources. For books, photocopy the title page containing the title of the work,

publisher, and date of publication. For paper journals, photocopy the outside of the

journal and the first page of the article.

2) For on-line sources, print the first page of the database, the first page of the article,

and the first page of link sites, if any. For example, if you find an article on JSTOR or

Ebsco, print the JSTOR or Ebsco page itself and the first page of the article.

3) Two copies of the completed Paper Five itself, one of which I shall grade and give

back at the Final and the other to go into the English department files.

Paper Five will be graded according to the following formula:

1) 10 points – Resource Documentation

2) 20 points – Works Cited page

3) 20 points – Correct MLA Form

4) 20 points – Mechanics (i.e. Grammatical things)

5) 30 points – Content

100 points total

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