Writing a Single Source Essay



Helpful Hints

Assignment Requirements

Due Dates and Point Values







In successfully completing this assignment, you will be able to:

  • Form a persuasive argument
  • Use a source to support your argument in a way that is relevant and logical
  • Explain and substantiate a short written argument



1. Pick one of these following topics to write about:

  • Should there be a speed limit?
  • Should a person have to be 18 to buy cigarettes?
  • Is it morally right to download music off of the internet?
  • Should students have to take classes outside their major?
  • Should cameras be allowed at concerts?

2. Write a few sentences about the topic you chose and why you chose it on your Blogger by midnight Thursday. This should include what side you are taking, and some thoughts on it. It can be a freewriting of sorts because I will not look at it for spelling, grammar, etc. However, it MUST be about your topic!

3. Think about what reasons you want to write about for your argument. I recommend you limit your reasons to one or two, since the paper has a word limit of 600-900 words. Once you decide on your reasons, sketch out a rough outline. The outline that is due on Sunday will be very basic. It will consisit of a thesis statement and statements of reasons, arranged in outline format which includes the intro/conclusion roman numerals.

Formatting will be:

Thesis Statement:

I. Introduction

II. [Your First Statement of Reason]

III. [Your Statement of Your Next Reason]

IV.[Your Statement of Your Next Reason (if applicable)]

V. Conclusion

4. Write a short paper containing an introductory paragraph with a clear thesis statement, body paragraphs with support for at least two reasons, and a conclusion paragraph. Title it something creative. It should be cohesive, focused, and well-organized. It also must contain a Works Cited Page with the source you use (just use one source). The source can be anything academically acceptable.

5. Use MLA format for the parenthetical documentation and the Works Cited page, as we have gone over in class. BE CAREFUL NOT TO PLAGIARIZE. Finally, if you use a print source, you MUST make a photocopy of it and bring it physically to me (or scan it and send it to me) by classtime on Friday.

6. A Rough Draft will be due on Tuesday at noon. This draft should contain all the required elements, including length requirement. We will peer edit them in class on Wednesday.


Helpful Hints

  • Pick the topic you have the most to say about, and pick it BEFORE you look for your source.
  • Decide your thesis first, your reasons second. Decide now if you want to do two reasons or three (two is the MINIMUM). All of these must be clearly stated!
  • It is often easiest to simply write one paragraph for each reason; however, you may write more if you wish - just not less.
  • You can use your source more than once in your paper (direct quote, paraphrase, or both) BUT you may not use more source material than your own explanation! We've discussed proper use of quotation and paraphrase before, so I won't get into that.
  • Use transitions
  • The title should make what side you're on clear - don't ask questions in your title or call it "Assigment #3"
  • Don't forget to put your name in a heading!
  • Remember that everything must be connected with logical reasoning and explanation, from support to reason to argument/thesis.
  • When checking your quotations/paraphrases, highlight the passages you used from your source, hold them up next to where they are in the paper, and check back and forth to see if you got it right. That's what I'll be doing when I check for plagiarism.
  • This sounds complicated, but it's really only an extention of what we've already been doing. Same rules apply.


Assignment Requirements
How well you meet these requirements determines your grade. A good persuasive single-source essay will:

  • Have a clearly stated thesis statement in the introduction
  • Have an introduction which leads smoothly into the body
  • Have clearly stated reasons
  • Have direct explanation of why those reasons prove that your argument makes sense
  • Make good use of a well-chosen, relevant academic source, inserting it when needed but not going overboard
  • Have all sources documented in the paper, right after they are used!
  • Have logical connections between points
  • Have clear, logical organization and transitioning
  • Be focused - everything must go towards proving your thesis!
  • Have a seperate Works Cited page that lists your source - papers without this will not be accepted
  • Have a photocopy/printout of the pages you got your quotes/paraphrases off of (you don't need to copy the whole thing, but you can't just do the title page)- papers without this will not be accepted


Due Dates:
Thursday, Feb. 6 at midnight: Blogger Entry for Topic Due (5 pts)
Sunday, Feb. 9 at midnight: Basic Outline Due (15 pts)
Tuesday , Feb. 11 at noon: Rough Draft Due (25 pts)
Friday, Feb. 14 at classtime: Final Draft Due (80 pts)

Maximum Total Score: 125 pts.


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