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English 200

Types of Papers

argumentative essentials

Argumentative Paper

An argumentative paper involves gathering evidence and presenting a well-reasoned argument concerning a debatable issue (controversial or not).

Your thesis statement will present a position you would like to present about a controversial topic.    You are not just stating a fact, you must base your paper on taking a strong position concerning this issue.

  • Your topic should not be able to be answered with a yes or no?
  • Base your argument on scholarly research, not religious opinion, cultural standards, or morality.
  • Make your argument specific enough.
  • You MUST choose one side or the other when you write an argument paper!
  • Tell others how you think things should be because that’s what is expected from an argument paper. 

persuasive argumentative

Persuasive Paper

To write a persuasive paper, you’ll need to use evidence and good reasons to convince others to agree with your point of view on a particular subject.

As you begin the research process, ask yourself:

  1. What type of information would I need to use in order to convince someone that I'm right?
  2. What facts, statistics, and evidence would an audience want to see?
  3. Are there any experts on this topic that I could quote in my essay?

The answers to these questions should help you determine what key words you'll want to use, as you begin searching for sources.

What should my thesis statement look like?

A persuasive thesis statement is a one-sentence description of your topic AND the argument that you plan to make. 

For example, if I was arguing about the use of the death penalty in the U.S., my thesis statement would probably look like one of the following examples:  

  • The death penalty gives rights to humans that should only be given to God; therefore, the death penalty should be abolished in the United States.
  • The death penalty forces murderers to give their own lives as a just punishment for taking someone else's life; therefore, we should continue to use this form of punishment in the United States. Please correct the error as it reduces your web site's credibility.

Notice that both thesis statements not only tell us WHAT the essay will be about, but also WHERE THE AUTHOR STANDS on that issue (his or her opinion) and briefly explain WHY.  Make sure that your thesis statement includes these three elements too!

compare and contrast

Compare and Contrast Paper

To write a compare/contrast essay, you’ll need to make NEW connections and/or express NEW differences between two things.  The key word here…is NEW!

  1. Choose 2 things that could go in the same category, but are also quite different. Good choices might be:
    • Basketball & Football (both sports)
    • Horses & Cats (both animals, but different in many ways)
    • Writing & Singing (both art forms, but different in many ways)
  2. Gather your ideas by writing down characteristics of each thing.  Note the differences and similarities between them.
  3. Ask yourself these important questions before you begin writing your draft:
  4. Sample thesis statement for contrast paper:  In terms of social networking sites, Facebook focuses on presenting your daily life to others, whereas MySpace allows you to focus more on demonstrating your personal style.
  5. Sample thesis statement for compare/contrast paper:  While both Facebook and MySpace allow you to meet other users who have similar interests, only MySpace allows you to demonstrate your personal style.       

position paper


Position Papers

A position paper is one in which you take a stand (position) on an issue and defend that position. It is meant to persuade the reader to consider your point of view, much like a persuasive speech is meant to persuade a listener to consider a particular point of view.

A position paper needs to contain a clear thesis or theme statement.

research paper


Research Papers

Why do instructors assign research papers?

College instructors assign research papers so that students have the opportunity to independently learn information not necessarily presented in lectures or textbooks. In addition, students gain practice in the process of researching so that they will know how to find and present information long after the class is over.

How do I choose a topic?

Sometimes you will be assigned a particular topic to research, and other times you will be given a choice. In either case, the best way to begin is to make the topic your own by focusing on an aspect of it that interests you. In general, the narrower your topic, the easier it will be to know what to include and exclude. However, you do need to check on the availability of source material to make sure you actually have access to information on your topic.

For example, you will probably begin with a wide subject area such as health and then narrow it down to a topic such as diabetes. Then you might ask yourself this question: What do I want to learn about diabetes? You might have heard that many children are now being diagnosed as diabetics. Phrase it into a question: Why are so many children being diagnosed as diabetics? This becomes your research question, and if you already have some idea of its cause, your hypothesis, or educated guess, might look something like this:

Poor diets and lack of exercise have contributed to the increase in juvenile diabetes in American children.

Where do I look for information?

The focus of your research, then, will be to look in reputable publications for credible sources that help to support your hypothesis. The place to start is at the college library. Use the online catalog  to find out what sources are available, and when you do, to find out where those sources are located. The librarian can direct you to other sources of information as well.

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Sara McCaslin
The Commons at Helm Library 2019