Topic: Most Americans know that too much sugar or processed foods are bad for them but eat them anyway, and many of us do not exercise enough even though we know the benefits of living a physically active life. Society often emphasizes personal responsibility and says people must make better choices for themselves, but how do poverty, governmental policies, etc. actually shape American health habits? We have passed legislation that has reduced how many people smoke in this county, could legislation also improve the way we eat? Why? Why not? Are there better ways than the legislative paths to improve people’s health, such as community educational programs for families, more health education in public schools? Examine the political science, sociological, and cultural research on this topic and form a position based on your findings.

This research project will be an extensive exploration of a controversial issue in which students will choose from a list of topics, conduct preliminary research on their topic in order to formulate an opinionated proposal, compose a well-documented, argumentative research paper on the issue, and then present their research findings in a formal, professional presentation to the class.


  • The paper has a discernible persuasive edge; it is more than just a report. As such, it should respectfully acknowledge and contend with opposing or alternative ideas and arguments.
  • The paper considers its intended audience (our ENG 112 class) with necessary background information, explanations of terms, and an appropriately engaging title.
  • The introduction has a clear thesis that concisely outlines the paper’s purpose to the reader. It should be engaging and should generate interest in the topic.
  • Each paragraph addresses one subtopic coherently and includes a clear topic sentence and ends with some type of conclusion that leads into the next paragraph.
  • The ideas in the paper are presented coherently creating good argument flow, with appropriate use of signposts and forecasting statements that help the reader navigate through the discussion. The ideas are presented in a logical order that reinforces the author’s argument.
  • Borrowed materials (researched sources!) are used strategically, with direct quotes “sprinkled” throughout to uphold contentious points and to reinforce the thesis. Quotes are properly punctuated (block quotes and regular quotes), with longer passages being paraphrased or summarized. Borrowed material is clearly indicated in the text and is documented correctly in MLA or APA format. The paper does not rely too heavily upon its sources; i.e. your writing voice remains central and is not lost among quotes (direct or indirect).
  • The ideas in the paper are developed sufficiently and relate to the specifics of the governing idea. The discussion is logical and internally consistent, avoiding logical fallacies and recognizing the assumptions it makes.
  • There are effective transitions within and between paragraphs that contribute to the smooth flow of the discussion. The paper also uses signal phrases before and after borrowed material. (Introduce your quotes and explain how they support your thesis, etc.)
  • The conclusion effectively connects the evidence and analysis presented in the paper to reinforce the thesis.
  • The writing is fluent, with minimal errors in structure, punctuation, grammar, and mechanics to interfere with the purpose of the text.
  • Any visuals in the presentation are fully interpreted for the reader and are integrated with the analysis and synthesis.

Specific Paper Requirements

  • Must be at least 5 full pages in length (not including Works Cited or References page)
  • Must use at least 7 authoritative, reliable research sources
    • Of these 7 sources used to write this paper, you only have to actually quote 5 in your essay. You might use the other two just as supplementary or background information that helps you form your overall argument but is not quoted in text.
    • 3 out of the 5 sources that you must quote within your essay must be “scholarly journals” or “peer-reviewed” sources
      • *Use the databases’ “advanced search” option for these peer-reviewed sources and scholarly journals!
  • Must follow APA guidelines for paper formatting and citations.
  • Must include both in-text citations as well as full “final” citations on the Works Cited or References page

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