English 102

Why a Debate?

The Debate paper lays the foundation for your final research paper. In order to present your research effectively, you must have a decent idea of what researchers before you have said. Most academic research takes the form of trying to prove a point—either supporting a hypothesis through research, or analyzing other people’s research to support a thesis. Generally when academic writers try to prove a point, it’s because the question they’re writing about hasn’t been settled yet, and chances are somebody out there disagrees with them. So a lot of your scholarly sources will, in fact, be part of a larger debate, even if that is not obvious from the way they’re written.

Your final research paper will do the same thing. It will be a persuasive essay in which you use your research to prove a point. In other words, you will be jumping into the debate yourself. Not everyone will agree with you—some will be undecided, and others will actively disagree. You will be trying to persuade the undecided and maybe even those who disagree. Your answer to the question everyone is debating will be the thesis of your next paper.

Your job now is to find a key question that people are debating about, so you can decide your own opinion on the subject and how you want to defend that opinion. It’s like you’re walking into a room where there’s a heated conversation going on. Before you can join in, you need to understand what everyone is arguing about. This paper is about describing where the argument was at the moment you walked in the door, to prepare for making your point.

Why are critiques necessary?

I require critiques not just to make you do some extra work, but because they are a crucial aspect of proving your own point. As I’ve said, your research paper will be taking sides in a debate. You will find some sources more convincing than others. The critiques should explain why that is. This will help your reader, and you, understand why you take the position that you’ll be arguing for in the research paper.