Writing Argument Essays: Research Paper Help

Need help writing your argument essay paper? I give a step by step approach with questions which will guide you in how to write a paper that gives the best possible arguments to persuade your audience. In addition, I help you see how to use your sources from research in your paper.

Argument Essay Topics

How can we prevent students from dropping out of high school?
How can we prevent students from dropping out of high school? | Source

Step 1: Understand Your Issue

After you have chosen a topic for your essay, answer these questions to help you to understand what you already know and clarify what information you need to find in your research.

  1. What is the issue? Write it as a question.
  2. What do you already know about this question?
  3. Who is interested in this issue?
  4. What do people believe? What are the positions you already know people take on this issue?
  5. What position do you most agree with?
  6. What do you need to learn?
  7. What are some search terms I can use to find information on this issue?

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Step 2: Gather Research Sources

Use your search engine terms to find resources in your library search engine or Google Scholar. For help in gathering and citing sources correctly see MLA Citation and Bibliography which includes links to online engines to formulate your Bibliography.

How to Find Good Sources

Look for Variety.Remember that you want to try to find a variety of sources, not just ones that repeat the same information.

Look for Authoritative Sources. Remember that books, articles from peer reviewed journals and government statistics are the strongest evidence. Follow your instructor's directions about the type of sources you need for your paper.

  1. If your library subscribes to Gale Opposing Viewpoints you can often find most of what you need in that online search engine. Look at your library website for research help or ask the librarians how to start a search on your topic.
  2. Check out websites of journals that cover your topic and search them for articles on your issue. Here are some ones to try:

Organize your Research Sources

  • Scan: As you find an article, scan it and see whether it is what you need. Email a copy of articles you plan to use to yourself. It generally also helps to print out a copy of each article.
  • Mark Important Sections: As you gather each source and read through it, mark the sections that are most useful so you don't have to search for those later.
  • Take Notes: Next, make a record for yourself to help you remember why you chose it. Below is a method that works well for many students.

For each source, write:

  1. How you found it (which online search engine you used so that you can find it again later).
  2. Bibliographical Citation: Author. Title of article. Name of Newspaper, Magazine or Book. Date etc. Use EasyBib or Citation Machine to help you make your citation.
  3. Summary: Do a short summary of this source (2-4 sentences) to help you remember what is in it.
  4. Notes: How can you use this source in your paper? Does this source support your point of view? Or tell a different point of view? (examples: It will support the argument that…..; I can use this to show why this is an important issue right now; this source shows the opposing viewpoint that……; this source has a good story to use for the introduction; this source has some good objections to my position that I will need to refute)

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How to Use Research in Your Essay

1. Sources Sometimes Give You Main Topic Ideas (reasons for believing your position)

Your topic points are the ideas you will have that you think will persuade that audience to believe your point. Your sources sometimes help you come up with those. If they do, then you can create a topic sentence and then summarize that source (or paraphrase or quote) and explain how that source proves your point.

TCQE: One way to include a source. Here is an example of how that works:

Claim: Vegetarianism is a healthy diet.

Topic Sentence - State what this quote(summary or paraphrase) will be about. Example: One reason to become a vegetarian is that eating a proper vegetarian diet is healthier.

Context - State how the quote is fits your topic. Example: Research on American eating patterns shows that most Americans eat too much meat and not enough vegetables….

Quote - Embedded quote (be sure it is inside your own sentence and not “on its own.” Example: According to Mason Jackson, “Vegetarianism is a healthier diet because…”

Explanation - How the quote relates to your thesis or answers your question. Example: Jackson’s explanation of how vegetarianism meets the nutritional requirements more effectively than a meat diet is persuasive proof that a person can be a vegetarian and be healthy.

Health Argument Topic

Is a Vegetarian Diet really healthier?
Is a Vegetarian Diet really healthier? | Source

2. Sources can be used to prove your own ideas.

Even better is when you have an idea of what is a good reason to be a vegetarian and you don't necessarily have a source which exactly says that idea, such as "Vegetarianism is healthier than being a carnivore" but you do have some facts from sources such as:

  • One source which tells that Americans eat too much meat.
  • Another source which says that you get more vitamins when you eat 5-6 servings of veg/fruit.
  • A source which says it is better to get your vitamins and minerals from natural foods rather than supplements because your body absorbs them better.

Putting those ideas in your paper can help you prove the idea that for Americans, eating a vegetarian diet can be better and healthier.

Example: Vegetarianism is healthier than being a carnivore because when you eat a vegetarian diet you tend to eat more plant foods. Do we need to eat meat? Professor James Garner, from the University of Ohio, notes that Americans eat more meat than they need ("Good Eats" 45). Simone Silver, author of What you Don't Eat Can Hurt You, explains that people who eat 5-6 servings of vegetables and fruits a day or more will get a much more balanced diet than people who try to get all of their calories from protein and carbohydrate sources, the traditional "meat and potatoes" diet of many Americans (56-57). Of course vegetarians who eat junk food will be no more healthy than their carnivore counterparts, but often vegetarians will seek to eat a healthier diet (Johnson 12). Moreover, when people get their vitamins and minerals from natural sources rather than supplements, their bodies tend to absorb those vital nutrients better and people tend to be healthier (Silver 98).

Introduction and Conclusion Ideas

Introduction Ideas
Conclusion Ideas
Interesting Facts
Tell the reader what they should believe
Startling Statistics
Tell the reader what they should do
Opinions of Experts
Tell the reader what they should think
Quote of authority
Explain what will happen if your position is not adopted
Personal Experience
Explain how your personal experience validates your position
Point out you understand the limits of your proposal but say it should still be adopted
List of Logical Reasons for position
Give an example of when this worked and say it will work in this situation
Dramatic Story
Appeal to the common values you and your audience hold
Typical Scenario
Reverse the scenario and show how your position will help the situation
History of Issue
Use resolutions of problems in past as an example of how this situation can be resolved
Answer objections
Comparison of issue to something more familiar
Make a final emotional appeal
Current news about issue
Connect back to current news and explain how taking your position is important
How this affects reader
Return to reader and stress importance of issue
Speculation about future
Envision a future that resolves issue (I have a dream...)
Frame story: start with part of story
Finish story at end of paper
Reverse story: Start with a story showing the problem
End with a reversal of the story, showing what will happen if youir position is adopted

How to Start Your Outline

After you have gathered your sources, read them, made notes and answered the questions in the worksheets below which help you think about your audience and what they believe and how you can convince them, you are ready to write your outline. Here is an easy method.

  1. Write your question. Example: Is Vegetarianism really a healthy diet?
  2. Write your Answer: Example: Vegetarianism can be a healthy diet if you follow the rules of other healthy eating plans such as getting enough protein, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and avoiding sugars and junk foods.
  3. Write your reasons for the answer. You should have three or more reasons. These will be your topic sentences for each of your body paragraphs. Write these clearly and use the words of your answer to help you keep focused. You might re-word this later, but keeping that question/answer format will help you keep your main point in mind.
  • Vegetarianism is healthy because it provides a more balanced diet approach than the typical American diet which focuses on meat for the main part of the meal
  • Another reason that Vegetarianism is healthy is that in order to get enough calories, vegetarians tend to eat more vegetables, fruits and other plant products which are good for you.
  • Finally, vegetarianism is healthy because people who are vegetarians have to think about what they eat and that tends to make them be more aware of what they put into their bodies.

4. Write Objections to your position and your answer to these objections.


Objection: Some people think that vegetarians can't get enough protein in their diets. Answer: Most Americans eat too much protein and vegetarians can easily find enough protein from nuts, beans and dairy products to satisfy their body's needs.

Objection: Some people think that vegetarians just eat junk foods. Answer: A vegetarian has to follow the same health rules as anyone else. If they eat junk foods, they won't have a healthy diet. However, generally vegetarians are more aware of the health needs of their bodies and tend to be more careful about eating junk foods and avoiding too much sugar..

Using Sources on Argument Paper

As you do your outline, be sure to write in where you can use information from your sources.
As you do your outline, be sure to write in where you can use information from your sources. | Source

How to Expand Your Outline with Sources

  • After you've done the basic outline above, you are ready to fill in that outline and put your sources into it.
  • Use the Introduction/Conclusion table to think about what would be a good way to interest the reader in your subject.

Introduction: Your introduction should end with your question, or sometimes you might want to start with the question and end the introduction with the answer (especially if your instructor wants you to have a thesis sentence in the introduction which includes all your main points).

Body: Now that you have your three or more reasons, you should be able to go through your sources and find evidence to put in to support those points. It helps if you write either the quotes, a paraphrase or a summary write in your outline so that it is easier to write later. Or you may just want to put page numbers from your source so you can find it easier.

Objections: Remember that in writing a paper, you need to answer the objections your reader is having in their mind as they read. If the reader you have in mind will be strongly opposed to your point of view, you will probably need to do this before you start telling your position and giving your reasons. In that case, you may want to put this paragraph after your introductions. Use this format: Example: Some people may object that.....Another objection people may have is...Many people feel...

How to answer objections? It depends on the type of argument style you are using, Toulmin, Rogerian or Classical.

  • You can refute them and say why they are wrong and why.
  • You can explain what is right about that point of view and what parts of it you agree with before you state your own point of view.
  • You can explain how you and your audience have many values in common and tell how your position better meets the values you both hold.
  • You can talk about the assumptions people have and how these are true or not true.
  • You can narrow your position by adding qualifiers like "only if....then," or "sometimes," or "until...then."

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light20 profile image

light20 3 years ago from Ozamiz City, Philippines

like this Hub! I also published a hub on Writing a College Research Paper. Yours is really very informative...Nice!

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