Unit 3: The Position Essay
Goals of this unit:
You have been studying communication within different communities, and, in Unit 1, you created your own research in an effort to enter the conversation taking place in your field. And, in Unit 2, you researched multiple perspectives on the same topic in order to understand the varying ideas and research available to you on that topic. Now, it is time for you to enter that academic conversation and write your position essay. It is finally your turn to create your own knowledge and have your chance at convincing others of your perspective. You will use the topic of your research analysis essay and build an argument for one side of the topic. You will take one (and only one) side of the argument. Your aim is to take a stand on the topic of our choice and use sources to support that claim.
Nuts and Bolts:
For this essay, you will use the topic that you researched for you Unit 2 essay. As with all the essays this semester, you will need to choose a topic that includes borders, (again, defined as any border—physical and literal or metaphorical and ideological boundaries between two places). Just as you did in Unit 1 and Unit 2, you will need to start with questions and not answers. Your task is to use the sources from your Unit 2 essay (and a few new ones) to create an argument about the topic—you will take a stance on your chosen border topic and create an argument that convinces readers that your position is correct and valid. This essay requires that you use a minimum of eight peer-reviewed sources as evidence for your position, which means that you can use some of the sources you used for your Unit 2 essay, but you will also have to find more. As with Unit 2, your sources should not simply restate the same opinion repeatedly. Nor should all your sources agree with one another. Rather, your sources should build upon each other’s ideas, and their arguments should be somewhere on the spectrum of agreement.
You are to choose at least eight peer-reviewed articles that contain and incorporate research that relates to your chosen topic of borders. The articles that you choose must have been peer-reviewed, and its topic must include a border, again, that is either a literal boundary between two places or an ideological or metaphorical border.
Here are some examples to help clarify. Let’s say that you chose to write about cultural borders that are physically and metaphorically crossed every day for your Unit 2 essay. You researched the multiple perspectives on that argument. Now, you will take a stand on the issue—what do you have to say about cultural borders that are crossed? You will start with the sources you found for your Unit 2 essay that help you support your position on the topic. Then, you will research to find more sources that serve as evidence for your position. Then, you will write your position on the topic, using at least eight sources as your evidence for your position.
Similar to the Unit 2 essay, to identify common threads in the sources, read each source searching for its relationships to the other sources (look for places where one author contradicts the other authors, places where the author supports other authors or repeated references to key texts).
Things to keep in mind while you are reading:
The research essay is to be 1,500-2,000 words and should include specific, cited examples from all of your sources in MLA format. You are required to use at least eight peer-reviewed sources. In addition, your essay should be written with an eye toward academic tone, voice, and Standard American English. Also, your essay should be free of grammatical errors.
Features of the genre:
The research essay genre is a very objective essay. Thus, it does not use pronouns, especially the second-person pronoun “you” or the first-person pronoun “I.” Do not include yourself (I, we, us, our) or your reader (you, your) in this document. In addition, position essays use strong verbs—they omit weak auxiliary verbs like “could,” “can,” “would,” and “should.” Be confident in what you are presenting: if you have conducted good research, then you should be proud of what you are saying to your readers.
You will have an introduction that narrows your topic so that you only focus on the position that you are taking. Every topic has so many different arguments (as you learned in Unit 2), and your goal in your introduction is to narrow your focus to only the argument that you will offer. Your introduction will then logically lead to your focus, and your thesis statement should be clear and direct and should come in a thesis paragraph or at the end of your introduction. The thesis statement for a research essay takes a stand on the issue. Your thesis should be specific and arguable (which means that people should disagree with you).
Just as with the other essays this semester, you should have your research paper divided into sub-points with appropriate section headers. Each section should be focused around only that sub-point but should connect to the other sub-points as well as the overall thesis, making the research you present clear, cohesive, and easy to follow.
In the final section of your essay, you will present your conclusion. Conclusions in research analysis essay answer three questions:
A few reminders about paragraph structure:
To earn the minimum grade of a C, your essay must…
Unit 3 Reflection Questions
Directions: In a MLA format, construct a short essay that responds to these questions. Your reflection is due the day of your Unit 3 essay at 11:59pm to the appropriate TurnItIn drop box and is worth 5% of your overall grade for this class.
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