National Debt

ENGL 1201CF SP14  (College English I)

Writing Assignment #4 (Research Essay)


  1. Consider subjects related to the national debt of the United States.  These subjects include but are not limited to Social Security costs, Medicare and Medicaid costs, Defense costs, tax rates, farm subsidies, effects of the Affordable Healthcare Act, effects of the rising interest payments resulting from the national debt, and effects of government spending in such areas as education and scientific research. Then, write a research essay of between 1500 and 1750 words, following the steps listed below:
    1. Choose one of these subjects that interests you.
    2. Have your choice approved by your instructor.
  1. Narrow that issue down to a manageable topic on which you will take a stand.
  2. Establish an unambiguous stance on that topic
    1. List and develop three to five clearly delineated main points in support of that stance.
    2. Develop your main points, drawing on at least four authoritative outside sources.
    3. Effectively address one strong counterargument.  .


  1. As you research your topic, form a research question, the answer to which will become your thesis (Handbook: 440-42).  Adding to you thesis a list of the main points you will develop in support of that thesis will result in a complete thesis statement.  For example, a research question suitable for an argumentative essay might be, “Should members of Congress be subject to term limits?”  A resulting complete thesis statement might be, “Members of Congress should be subject to term limits because such limits would reduce the overall amount of time a member would have to spend fundraising, limit the influence of lobbyists, and weaken a seniority system that often stifles the fresh ideas of new members.”


  1. Address a counterargument.  For example, a counterargument to the complete thesis statement listed above might be, “Instituting term limits would deprive Congress of the collective wisdom senior members have acquired through many years of Congressional service.”
    1. In developing your argument,
      1. Employ appropriate research techniques (Handbook: 437-88).
      2. Use appropriate rhetorical modes (e.g. comparison and contrast, cause and effect, and illustration).
      3. Take particular care to effectively quote, paraphrase, and summarize appropriate passages from your sources, using in-text citations as needed (Handbook: 498-588)
      4. Make the foundation of your essay your well-focused and complete thesis statement (Handbook: 492-93).
      5. Proceed through all phases of the writing process: prewriting (including outlining), drafting, and revising.
      6. Include an introduction containing your focused and complete thesis statement; unified and coherent body paragraphs that develop focused topic sentences, each of which develops a particular aspect of the thesis; and a strong concluding paragraph.
      7. Provide in-text citations and a Works Cited page using the MLA format (Handbook, 517-69).
      8. Follow the formatting and submission instructions listed under “Assignments” on page 5 of our course syllabus.


  1. You must turn in
  1. First submission

i.      your prewriting material

ii.      your typed outline

iii.      a stapled peer- reviewed copy of your essay

iv.      an electronic copy submitted through SafeAssign.


  1. Revised Submission: an electronic copy submitted through SafeAssign.


  1. 6.      BE SURE TO BACK UP ALL YOUR WORK. (Copy on hard drive; copy on disk; copy in “the cloud.”)


  1. Peer review of first submission: 14 Apr.


  1. First submission: 16 Apr.