Researched Position Paper

For your Issue Proposal, you organized your preexisting knowledge on your issue and sketched a plan for research. You then compiled several sources and summarized their contents for your Annotated Bibliography. In your Mapping the Issue paper, you traced the controversy surrounding your issue by describing its history and summarizing the major positions on it. All these assignments have been preparing you for this final paper, where you will advocate a position on your issue with a well – supported argument written for an audience that you select.


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In rhetorical studies, invention refers to the systematic search for ideas that can be shaped into an effective composition. (The term “prewriting” is sometimes used to refer to the concept of invention.) This section of the assignment, then, is designed t o help you generate the required content for your Researched Position Paper. Please note that the following steps are not intended to serve as an outline for your paper. Rather, these steps will help you produce the “raw materials” that you will then refine into a well – organized analysis, and these steps are likely to produce more material than you can actually use in the draft you submit to readers.

1. You should first choose a publication venue for your paper. For example, will you write a letter direct ly to an individual, group, or organization? Or will you write an article for a newspaper, newsletter, or periodical? Perhaps a piece for a website, web – based publication, or social media site? To ensure that you select a specific enough audience, make sur e your venue has an address (physical or electronic) to which you could send your paper. Then, investigate the characteristics and values of the readers you will reach through this venue.

2. Once you’ve settled on an audience, construct a claim that advances the conversation about your issue, turns it in a new direction. You might disagree with a claim made by an author ( They Say/I Say , pp. 58 – 61), you might agree with a claim but with a difference ( They Say/I Say , pp. 61 – 64), you might agree and disagree with a claim simultaneously (They Say/I Say , pp. 64 – 66), or you might generate an entirely new claim that addresses an aspect of the issue that has not been addressed in the sources you’ve found.

3. Next, attach as many reasons as are necessary to fully su pport your claim. Your claim+reasons, also known as “enthymemes” ( Everything’s an Argument, p. 65), will form your thesis.

4. For each separate enthymeme in your thesis, identify the implicit warrant and determine whether it represents an assumption that your audience shares with you. If so, there’s no need to address the warrant explicitly in your argument. If the warrant represents an assumption some readers might resist, however, consider how you might persuade them to accept it. If you think it would b e impossible to persuade your audience to accept the warrant, then you might consider changing the reason so as to produce a warrant that relies on an assumption that you and your readers share. Please note: each reason in your thesis will produce a different warrant, and you must assess the audience’s response to each one.

5. For each of your reasons (and any warrant that needs explicit support), provide sufficient evidence to convince your audience that your reasons are true statements. Your personal experiences, observations, and reasoning count as evidence, but you should also draw extensively on outside sources for evidence to support your reasons.

6. Make sure you anticipate objections to your argument by planting at least one naysayer in your paper . This naysayer might be hypothetical or might be the actual author of an outside source. To engage effectively with a naysayer, you should:

     • name and describe the naysayer ( They Say/I Say , pp. 82 – 84).

     • represent objections fairly ( They Say/I Say , pp. 86 – 87).

     • make concessions when possible ( They Say/I Say , pp. 88 – 90).

     • answer objections ( They Say/I Say , pp. 87 – 90).

7. The previous six steps will help you construct effective logos appeals. You should also make effective ethos appeals in order to come across to readers as a person of good character, good sense, and good will. To make effective ethos appeals, make sure you:

     • know what you’re talking about. Draw on all those outside sources you’ve been reading over the course of the semester, and provide amp le evidence for your reasons.

     • show regard for your readers. Try to come across as approachable and thoughtful, not arrogant or insensitive.

     • are careful and meticulous in your writing, not sloppy or disorganized.

6. Finally, make pathos appeals to readers by connecting with their emotions, values, and imaginations. To make effective pathos appeals, make sure you:

     • choose an appropriate style based on the conventions of your publication venue.

     • evoke emotions (sympathy , outrage, anger, delight , awe, horror, etc.) in your readers that make your paper more moving.

     • evoke sensations (seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling) in your audience that make your writing vivid and help readers experience things imaginative ly.

     • appeal to values (freedom, justice, tolerance, fairness, equality, etc.) that you r readers and you share.


In rhetorical studies, arrangement refers to the selection of content generated during the inventional stage and the organization of that content into an effective composition.

To begin your paper, follow the advice offered in Ch. 1 of They Say/I Say : “T o give your writing the most important thing of all — namely, a point — a writer needs to indicate clearly not only what his or her thesis is, but also what larger conversation that thesis is responding to” (20). In this case, the conversation you’re responding to is the one surrounding your issue. Indicate at the beginning of your paper that you’re writing in response to that conversation; then state a thesis that consists of your claim and supporting reasons.

Also, mind the lesson of Ch. 7 in They Say/I Say : “Regardless of how interesting a topic may be to you as a writer, readers always need to know what is at stake in a text and why they should care. . . . Rather than assume that audiences will know why their claims matter, all writers need to answer the ‘ so what?’ and ‘who cares?’ questions up front” (92 – 93). Don’t assume that your readers will care about your take on the issue — make them care by explaining why your argument is significant. Feel free to use the templates in Ch. 7 of They Say/I Say .

After you’ve completed these introductory moves, the arrangement of your argument is up to you. You should include material from each step in the inventional stage, but your selection and organization of that material should follow your own judgment as to what wi ll prove most effective with the audience you have selected.


In rhetorical studies, style refers to the appropriate language for the occasion, subject matter, and audience.

One purpose of ENGL 1302 is give you practice writing in a variety of styles. For this paper, you should familiarize yourself with the style of pieces published in the venue you have selected. Adhere to that style as closely as possible.

Readers appreciate coherent, unified paragraphs, even when reading an informal piece of writing. Your paragraphs should include a topic sentence that clearly states the main idea of the paragraph and supporting sentences that cluster around the main idea without detours.

You should cite your sources according to the conventions of your publication venue. If you’re writing a letter or an article for a mainstream periodical, then you will probably just introduce your sources and cite them within the text, much as you did for your Mapping the Issue paper. If you’re writing for a web – based publication, you might need to include hyperlinks. If you’re writing for a scholarly journal, then you’ll need to use the formal citation system (e.g., MLA, APA, or Chicago) that journal requires.

Proofread carefully; avoid errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and mechanics. Visit the Purdue OWL website ( ) for questions you have regarding style.

Other Requirements

Your paper should be 5 – 10 pages and utilize 8 secondary sources. I don’t want any fluff, so construct a thesis that will require at least five pages to support. I also don’t want to read a dissertation, however, so keep the scope of your thesis small enough that you can support it adequately within ten pages. Your paper s hould be double – spaced, typed in Times New Roman font, with 12 – point character size and one – inch margins all the way around.


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