Instructions for the Persuasive Essay

Instructions for the Persuasive Essay

Write a persuasive essay of about 1200 words (4-5 double-spaced pages) that develops your own argument about an issue of social concern. Choose an issue that matters to you. The issue may be local, national, or international. Assume that your readers’ understanding of the issue is incomplete; work to further their understanding and convince them to perceive the issue your way. As explained in SCC 3.8, a persuasive essay makes an argument—which is, “a reasoned opinion supported and explained by evidence” (122). A thesis is a concise and specific statement of an argument. Formulating a thesis for this essay will require you to find and analyze evidence (ideas and examples) relevant to your issue. Identify the issue by keywords, and determine one main question and several sub-questions to guide your research. Some of the evidence you use may come from your own experiences or observations. Some evidence may come from sources assigned in the course (see the assigned sources in the schedule in the syllabus). Some must come from credible sources that you find on your own.

A credible source is one written or presented by a professional who has researched the topic. You must use at least four credible sources outside of those assigned in the course. The sources may be primary sources or secondary sources (see SCC 4.4). At least two of the sources must be scholarly. Two may be popular. Sources may be: print, video, or web media; articles, books, interviews, lectures, presentations, or reports. You may use a search engine (e.g., Google, Yahoo, Bing) or a database like on the open Web to find credible sources that help to answer your guiding questions. You should also—or only, if you prefer—use GSU PC’s subscription to databases on GALILEO and/or the GSU PC Library Catalog to find credible sources that help to answer your guiding questions. Using GALILEO databases allows you to easily check if a source is scholarly (peer-reviewed). Refer to the GSU PC Libraries Research Guide “ENGL 1101 English Composition I: Current Issues” for help navigating GALILEO and the GSU PC Library Catalog. When you find a source that you want to use, copy and save (or create) an MLA-style, end-of-text citation of the source to include on your Works Cited page.

Begin your essay with an introductory paragraph that identifies the issue, interests your reader, and states your thesis. In the body of your essay, break up your argument into discrete parts; develop supporting claims (sub-points) as topic sentences for body paragraphs. Develop at least four body paragraphs. In each body paragraph, analyze evidence from at least one researched source to support that paragraph’s topic sentence. Organize your body paragraphs logically to evolve your thesis. At least once in the body of the essay, acknowledge your main “argument’s limits” by explaining some “differing points of view on the subject” (125, 123). Follow the advice in SCC “to address opposing arguments earlier rather than later in your essay” (123).

When incorporating source material into your essay, be sure to represent the source accurately and use a signal phrase to attribute this evidence to its author. When you paraphrase and summarize sources, clearly distinguish their authors’ language from your own. Follow the guidelines for in-text citations at For example, when you quote or paraphrase a source that has page numbers, include the page number of the quoted or paraphrased passage in parentheses at the end of your sentence before the period. Avoid block quotations (i.e., quotations longer than four typed lines) of sources; instead, incorporate short quotations into your own sentences.

Your essay should have:

  • a heading in MLA style (your name, instructor’s name, course, and due date);
  • in the header, your surname and page numbers aligned right;
  • 1-inch margins on all sides;
  • 12-point legible font;
  • double line spaces throughout the entire document;
  • a short title, centered after your heading, that reflects your argument about your issue and that captures your audience’s attention;
  • ½-inch, first-line indentations of all paragraphs;
  • an introductory paragraph that includes your thesis;
  • at least 4 body paragraphs;
  • transitions between examples, ideas, and paragraphs;
  • in-text attributions or citations of all sources that you reference, in MLA style;
  • a concluding paragraph;
  • a Works Cited page with hanging-indented, MLA-style citations of all sources that you cite in-text.

On the due date of the “Draft of Persuasive Essay” (see the schedule in the current syllabus), submit a MS Word or PDF file of your complete draft to the Persuasive Essay folder at Dropbox on iCollege before coming to class, and bring one printed copy of your draft to class for peer review. On the due date of the “Revision of Persuasive Essay,” submit a MS Word or PDF file of your revision to the same Persuasive Essay folder at Dropbox on iCollege by 11:59 pm.

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