Argumentative Research Essay

Welcome to the Argumentative Research Essay Module!

research graphic

research graphic depicting a dictionary entry for the word research

As a capstone project in your College Preparatory Composition class, you will be learning how to conduct academic research and how to write a research paper. This is an important skill that you will need to learn as you prepare to transition to college level coursework. Before you begin this packet, you should read chapter 20 in our Exploring Writing textbook, “Writing the Research Paper,” and take the closed book exam on the chapter. This packet will provide you with a framework for conducting your research and getting started with writing your paper.

To work through this module, you will click on each unit in the Table of Contents, read each section, and do the work as assigned. The content in this website is the same as the information contained in the hard copy of the research packet. Since you are using the website, you will only need to refer to the hard copy of the packet to record your written information as directed and to get checkpoint items signed off by an instructor.


As you work through the process of your research, you should check in with an instructor several times. In the hard copy of the research packet provided by your instructor:

1.    You will get your packet signed off when you have determined your research question.

2.    You will obtain a signature when you have selected your sources.

3.    You will also need to create research note cards (minimum of 5 per source) which you will need to have signed off on your student guide. Each note card should reflect a piece of information, quote, or significant finding that you may use in your research report. Keep in mind that you will need to cite each source that you use in your final paper, so sources should be noted on each card. Your notecards must be signed off prior to writing your paper. This will allow you to get feedback from an instructor about the content of your notecards to ensure that you are using information that will be helpful to you.

4.    You should discuss your thesis with an instructor prior to writing your first draft.

5.    You will prepare a “scratch outline” before you begin writing your paper.

What is Research?

When we think of research, we are really talking about finding out information about a topic. More specifically, research is a systematic process designed to discover something new or to answer a question. Although we may not realize it, we participate in research on a regular basis. When we decide which type of dishwasher to buy, plan a vacation, make a decision on a new phone to purchase, and many other scenarios like this, we are essentially conducting research. In this project you will learn how to do academic research and how to write a research paper.   Many courses that you will take in college require will require you to write a research paper. Sometimes you will be assigned a specific topic, sometimes you may have a list of topics to select from, and sometimes you may be able to select your own topic.  

Defining Your Research Task

Whether you are given a topic or asked to select your own, one of the first things you must do is to determine the purpose of your research. In this course, you will be writing an argumentative research paper. The purpose of this type of paper is to persuade your reader of your opinion on a topic and to present the evidence, or research, on why your opinion is to be believed. In essence, you will try to persuade your reader to agree with you. For this reason, your topic should be something that can be questioned or debated.  An argumentative research paper might address something that is controversial, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. An example of a topic that can be questioned might be whether life exists on other planets. Some people might believe that this is true, while others might argue against it. A research paper on this topic would need to ask the question, “Is there evidence that life exists on other planets?” and then do research to answer this question.

As you begin your research project, it is important to choose a topic that is interesting to you, but that is appropriate in breadth and depth. In other words, your topic needs to be broad enough that you can find informational sources, but narrow enough that you can cover your topic in 3-5 pages of writing.

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