Choose a current topic on a social issue/debate that interests you enough to research for the rest of the course. For information on choosing an issue, consult the Week 2 resource link “The Twelve Tests of an Arguable Issue” and video lecture on developing a good research topic.



  1. Choose a current topic on a social issue/debate that interests you enough to research for the rest of the course. For information on choosing an issue, consult the Week 2 resource link “The Twelve Tests of an Arguable Issue” and video lecture on developing a good research topic.


Just remember that the topic should be arguable and timely (a current issue). So, it should have multiple sides to the debate and it should also be a topic that is relevant for today.

For inspiration on choosing a topic, I recommend reviewing this list from the NYT: 401 Prompts for Argumentative Writing (Links to an external site.)

Keep in mind this list doesn’t take into account the requirement of academic research for our research project, so not every topic would work for this course. However, it’s a great starting place for ideas.

Here are just a few examples that are fairly specific, arguable, and timely:

Make sure that you do spend some time explaining why you want to pursue this topic. The more passionate you are about this topic—the better the writing. This makes sense, right? The more you enjoy your topic the more joy you will feel when writing about this subject.

  • Briefly describe two opposing viewpoints surrounding this issue.

Viewpoint A:

             Viewpoint B:

Again, make sure your topic has at least two sides. If your argument does not have different perspectives, it will lead you—more than likely—to a topic that is just a pure research topic and not an arguable topic.

  • Introduce your issue by briefly describing what caused the issue or problem? Why is the issue considered a problem? Who are the stakeholders (people with a concern or interest in the issue)?

Make sure that you give me some detail here, as you want to make it clear to your reader (myself) why this issue came into existence, why it is a problem, and the stakeholders. Most students forget about the stakeholder, or they give a very general audience as the stakeholder. Really think about a specific audience that is affected by this topic.

  • List two reliable and current sources that you might use to support the two differing viewpoints you identified in question 3. List the sources using correct MLA style format.  For information on finding reliable sources and MLA citation practices, consult the Week 4 lectures and the Purdue Owl available at

Beneath each citation, provide a brief annotation (description) that includes a summary of the source’s main idea and how you might use this information in your research.

Be VERY careful here. This is where most students lose points. You need to give me TWO sources that are in MLA format and you need to make sure to put a description under each source. I think students find it helpful to review the annotated bibliography sample in this course (Go to Modules > Sample Essays (bottom of the course page) > Click on Annotated sample). This gives you an idea of what an annotated source looks like: an MLA citation and then a brief description of the source under the citation.

When finding a source, make sure it is reputable.

  • National newspapers (e.g., New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star Telegram)
  • Print magazines (e.g., The Atlantic, Harper’s, New Yorker, Time, Newsweek)
  • Online magazines (e.g., Slate, Salon)
  • Scholarly articles (e.g., academic articles published in peer-reviewed journals; you can find citations for these articles by using the MLA International Bibliography database, JSTOR, or   Project Muse—all of which UTA’s library gives you access to online.)
  • Scholarly books or book chapters (it’s a good bet a book is scholarly if it’s published by an academic press, such as Duke University Press; if you’re not sure, ask me.)

DO NOT USE WIKIPEDIA, OR STUDY GUIDE WEBSITES (i.e. Shmoop, Sparknotes, etc.).

Also, make sure your sources are current. It should be published in the past 1-3 years in order to be a source that is up-to-date on the topic.

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