For your third and final essay assignment, you must research, analyze, and propose a solution for a significant problem or issue related to your field of study. You are allowed to choose a problem within any topic area you feel is appropriate, but remember that it must be relevant and complex enough to warrant some intelligent discussion.
To complete this essay, you must first articulate a question, problem, or controversy that exists within your academic area. Then, you should conduct a significant amount of research that proves the existence of the issue and perhaps addresses it from different angles. Finally, as the expert in this area, you need to propose a solution or a method for approaching the problem. The goal, here, is to apply your own critical thinking to raise awareness of a major issue and hopefully solve it. In other words, you need to make an original argument and include outside sources along the way to lend credibility to your ideas.
This assignment is no different from a typical “inquiry-based” research paper. However, you have some extra leeway, in that you can choose the genre for your writing. In your second paper, you analyzed two different kinds of publications: one was strictly formal and intended for a scholarly audience, and the other was designed for a more general readership. Based on what you learned from that analysis, you can write a scholarly paper or a web-based article. In either case, you should follow the directions above and use the specific steps on the next page as a guide.
Of course, the thing to keep in mind is that a scholarly writer and a web-content author are not the same kind of “creator.” They have different audiences, tones, voices, techniques, and goals. They’re even dissimilar in the way they cite outside sources (a scholarly writer may stick to APA style or add endnotes, while a web writer simply applies a hyperlink). Even their presentation of material varies: an academic writer relies mostly on text, and a web writer can take advantage of multi-media tools (we mentioned hyperlinks—there’s also an opportunity to add pictures, graphs, etc.). Each method is both challenging and effective in its own way.
Some of you may have chosen a television program, podcast, or speech as your second, “popculture” source for Essay #2. In that case, you may want to structure Essay #3 as a transcript for an actor or speaker to deliver. This would be a little trickier, so if you decide to go that route, please reach out to me and discuss your specific plans. Otherwise, decide what kind of writer you want to be: an academic or a web-based author. Then, decide on your issue, collect your sources, and start addressing your particular audience members. No matter what you do, there are some conventions you have to follow. Correct grammar and complete sentences are still required.
We will work on a few exercises over the next few weeks to help you tease out the best way to attack this assignment. For now, consider these general guidelines to get you started.
1) Begin this project early. Think about some issues in your topic area that seem significant and interesting to you. Narrow them down to one specific problem you can address. 2) Do some preliminary research and ensure you will have enough material to cover that particular problem and its possible solutions. 3) Collect all of the articles, websites, and other trustworthy resources that will make up your total research in this area—now you are ready to begin writing. 4) Suggestion: start with an introduction. Review the controversy, define the problem, and mention any possible solutions from your research. Finally, state your own solution as the essay’s main “claim.” If you are able to begin with these steps, you may be able to clear up some of the confusing aspects of this topic. Then, start on the body paragraphs of your paper. 5) For the first part of your body section, dissect the problem completely. In doing so, you should summarize its basic features, demonstrate its seriousness, and maybe point to some real-life examples that will help the reader fully understand what you will be talking about. 6) After dissecting the problem, discuss one of the possible solutions. Use your research and the testimony of experts to fully “flesh out” one specific way of attacking this problem. 7) Do the same thing for a second solution. Try to find another way to solve this problem that is significantly different from the first one you discussed. Treat it with the same level of research-supported detail. Repeat for a third solution, if you can. 8) Now that you’ve teased out some potential solutions, synthesize the two (or three) solutions by comparing and contrasting them in terms of evidence and reasoning. Begin to justify your own stance by reacting to each solution. Remember, your personal stance is your original idea for solving the problem or addressing the issue. This stance is your main argument; as such, it should be specific, clear, and logical. You can support this argument by providing your own claims, evidence, warrants, and examples. (We’ll discuss these concepts.) 9) Write a conclusion that explains to your reader how your solution can be beneficial. 10) Drive home your “so what” factor at the end. A good solution to a real problem means a lot.
If you feel this guidance is too restrictive, take your own approach. Above all, remember that the goal is to explore an issue in your academic area and make a meaningful contribution. If you can add original knowledge to your field of study, you’re officially unstoppable.
A good number of sources for this essay is in the range of four to six. The suggested length is approximately 1,500 words. Good luck and have fun. This is a chance for you to “spread your wings” as a writer, so take advantage and enjoy the ride.