Argument Synthesis writing assignment

R. Shelley
Formal Writing #3: Argument Synthesis
Assignment Description Your final formal writing assignment
is to write a 5-page argument synthesis essay following proper
MLA guidelines on a current argument/debate regarding a
controversial technology and the impact it is having or could
have on society or culture. Please choose from the following
technologies. There are many debates associated with each:
• Nanotechnology
• Genetic Engineering/Editing (CRISPR)
• 3D Printing
• Drones (commercial or military)
• Robots (for work or social)
• Quantum Computing
• Driverless Cars/Trucks
• The Internet of Things
• Cultured Meat
• Artificial Intelligence
• Virtual Reality
Your job is to provide an argument (a clear position on the
debate) that reflects your (educated) point of view on a debate
associated with the technology.
Rhetorical Context The rhetorical purpose of this formal
writing assignment is to persuade your audience to accept your
position on a debate by using sound reasoning, solid evidence
that you gathered from your research and by presenting yourself
as a credible, reasonable and authoritative writer. For the
purposes of this assignment, you are to imagine you are writing
for a publication called “We’ve Got Issues,” a magazine that
explores current events through contributions from its readers.
You should assume your audience is academic; therefore, you
should avoid using an overly informal tone. Although you may
use first person pronouns like “I, me, myself” sparingly,
especially when referring to relevant personal experience, try to
avoid overuse by writing more in third person (using he, she, it,
they). Since the audience of this magazine comes from a wide
variety of backgrounds and perspectives, you should be
prepared to address an audience that may be somewhat hostile
to your perspective. As a result, you will have to take extra care
when choosing how to argue your point of view on the issue,
making sure to include a solid counterargument.
Research Requirements One of the most important tasks of
this essay is for you to use other writers’ research to help you
make your argument more persuasive. In short, you must
include five (5) credible, current, and relevant sources total in
your essay. Most of these sources will come from Kimbel
Library’s OneSearch. You are limited to no more than two
websites, but they must be from reputable websites to count as
sources. You are also required to cite each source parenthetically
and on a properly formatted Works Cited page. If you do not
meet these basic research requirements, you will receive a
“D” or an “F” depending on the severity.
Citations and Documentation As with the other essays, the
argument synthesis essay will require you to use the skills we’ve
discussed in making effective and ethical use other peoples’
words, ideas and information. These skills include:
1. citing precisely and concisely according to MLA
guidelines (including a Works Cited page),
2. using quotations, paraphrases and summaries (deciding
which one is more appropriate to how you’re using the
text), and
3. (when you do quote directly or paraphrase) integrating
those quotations or paraphrases in with your own words
smoothly using the I.C.E. method. Because this is a
research essay, failing to do any of these will result in
an “F” on the paper.
Turnitin Since this is a research essay, you are required to
submit the rough draft to Turnitin for similarity
review/plagiarism test. If Turnitin flags your use of the sources
as plagiarism, you will have until the submission of the final
draft to fix these citational errors. Otherwise, you will pay the
Criteria for Success In addition to the general requirements for
formal writing assignments described on page 31-32 of the
Coastal Writer’s Reference, you should also follow the more
specific criteria for success below.
• Begin your essay by grabbing your audience’s attention and
drawing them into the world of your topic and why it
matters today. Use a “grabber”.
• Provide relevant background information on your
technology and the specific debate you’ve chosen (key
definitions, necessary historical information, overview of
all “sides” of the debate and etc.).
• Write an argumentative thesis statement that clearly presents
the claim your essay will prove and your position on the
debate. The thesis should not only include the claim of
what you believe but should give a general indication as to
why you believe it (your reason(s))
• Use sound reasoning, analysis and solid evidence drawn
from your research to describe the nature of the debate.
• Use sound reasoning, analysis and solid evidence drawn
from your research and help support your points/position
on the issue.
• Show evidence of synthesis (i.e. using multiple sources to
support a single point)
• Write a counterargument: present yourself as a credible and
reasonable writer by accurately summarizing your
opponent’s position(s) (the “other side” of the argument)
and then fairly responding to their points by 1).
providing counterevidence and/or examples, 2). showing a
flaw in your opponent’s reasoning or 3). simply conceding
to the validity of the opposition’s argument.
• Use best practices when using direct quotations, paraphrase,
and summary (see Citations and Documentation on the
previous page) and following all research guidelines (See
Research Requirements on the previous page).
• Strongly conclude your argument by summarizing what you
believe and why and then attempting to answer the
question: “So what?”. Use an “exiting strategy.”
• Include all parenthetical citations as well as a properly
formatted Works Cited page for all sources.

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