Research and Writing — Lesson 1

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Introduction to the process of drafting a research-based argument paper. You will draft, revise, review, and edit this paper over the course of the unit. Students develop their research-based argument paper from the evidence-based perspective previously developed. Students determine a central claim from their research frame and evidence-based perspective and begin to construct an outline for the research-based argument paper. To complete the outline, students develop an individualized process for organizing their supporting claims and evidence for each claim while providing reasoning to support each claim.

1. Writing Process

The writing process is iterative, much like the research process, which means that you will frequently reassess your work or your thinking in order to improve and/or refine it. Previously, you composed a formal, research-based argument paper. Writing is a process that takes many forms and students can accomplish it through a variety of methods. Though there are many different ways to approach the writing process, they all involve creating multiple drafts and revisions. You will draft, revise, peer review, and edit throughout the unit to create a well-crafted research-based argument paper.

The research paper you will complete is a formal argument (a composition of precise claims about an issue) including relevant and sufficient evidence and valid reasoning. Keep in mind that the purpose of writing a research-based argument paper is to support your claims in an analysis of your chosen issue to convince readers to understand and accept their perspectives. You must also develop a central claim and support that claim using supporting claims and evidence.

The evidence-based perspective you developed previously is the foundation for your research-based argument paper. Use their evidence-based perspectives to identify the claims and evidence you express in your paper. The research-based argument paper is a logical, well-reasoned, and coherent synthesis of your research and the arguments you drew from the research.

A research-based argument paper has a formal structure composed of an introduction, body paragraphs, conclusion, and works cited page. You will focus on each of these parts to produce a final research-based argument paper for the End-of-Unit Assessment.

2. Reasoning, Planning, and Organization

You are going to construct an outline to guide your work on the argument-based research paper. Because writing is an individual process, everyone has a slightly different method for outlining their thoughts. Although methods of outlining will be individualized, all outlines will share some common elements. You will first learn the elements of an effective outline before beginning to write your own outline.
Consider what method of outlining works best for you. Some students may prefer creating a visual web of information to organize their thoughts. Other students might prefer to organize their thoughts in a bulleted list. Still others might prefer a combination of the two, or a different format entirely. Organization at the beginning of the drafting process can help you to identify areas where the paper might be weak or need more work.
In your outline you should plan for an introduction, several body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The introductory paragraph should state the central claim of the paper; the body paragraphs should provide supporting claims and counterclaims with supporting evidence and reasoning; and the conclusion should summarize the argument and restate the central claim in a new way.       

Central Claim

To begin,  first determine the central claim. The answer to the problem-based question forms the central claim of the research-based argument paper. Examine your evidence-based perspectives and research frames, and briefly discuss the strongest or most interesting possible central claims that have emerged from your research. You recorded several answers to problem-based questions in the evidence-based perspective. A central claim must be strong enough to warrant and uphold several supporting claims.

  • Consider possible central claims for your research-based argument papers. A central claim is an author or speaker’s main point about an issue in an argument)

Distill one of the possible central claims from previous lessons on your outline into a single sentence: a central claim. In order to distill the answer into a central claim, you should consider which perspective, surfaced through the research process, has the strongest evidence as well as an overarching claim you are interested in pursuing over the course of writing their paper. For example, if your problem-based question is “What is the most effective way for a developing nation to increase its economic prosperity?” you should write an answer to this question based on the best-supported conclusions expressed in the evidence-based perspective. In this example, this answer might be, “The most effective way for developing nations to become more prosperous is by investing in human capital, providing quality education and technology to all citizens, regardless of gender or race.”

Claims and evidence

Claims and evidence should be ordered within your paper in a logical manner that clearly supports your central claim and demonstrates valid reasoning. Reasoning connects evidence to claims by explaining how the evidence supports the claim.

Reasoning: the logical relationships among ideas, including relationships among claims and relationships across evidence.

Example claims:
Central Claim: The most effective way for developing nations to become more prosperous is by investing in human capital, providing quality education and technology to all citizens, regardless of gender or race.

  • Claim: Equal access to quality education results in wealth not only for a country as a whole, but also for the individuals who live in the country.
  • Claim: Quality education is multifaceted and not limited to the classroom.
  • Claim: The Internet provides vast opportunities for communication, and therefore fosters larger-scale competition among all people of a nation.

The claims need to be ordered in a way that effectively supports the central claim. Although some claims may be related to the central claim, they may not reinforce a logical relationship to the central claim and may not work effectively to persuade the reader that the central claim being presented is correct.

Q. Which claim in this sequence does not support the central claim?  A. While it may be true, the claim, “Quality education is multifaceted and not limited to the classroom” does not directly support the central claim because it does not provide evidence to support the idea that education and technology will support economic development.

More: Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL): (search term: logical conclusions).

When adding supporting claims to the outline you should articulate how the supporting claim connects to or supports the central claim. The significance of the supporting claim helps hold the paper together for the reader and helps explain how each section builds to the central claim.

Organizing Evidence-Based Claims Tools

Retrieve all of the Organizing Evidence-Based Claims Tools from your previous research materials that align with your central claim. Arrange this information physically on your workspace in an order that reflects where each claim would appear in the research paper.
Some potential questions to guide your organization of the tools:

  1. Are my evidence-based claims in a logical order (i.e., one claim flows neatly into the next and the claims build toward an overarching central claim)?
  2. Can I explain the significance of how each supporting claim supports the central claim?
  3. How do I link my claims from the Organizing Evidence-Based Claims Tools to best support the central claim?
  4. How can I transition from one claim to another to effectively demonstrate the reasoning and how it best supports the central claim?
  5. Does this order effectively support the central claim?

3. Outline

Work independently to organize the claims and evidence in your outline, using a method that makes sense to you. Everyone has a slightly different method for outlining their paper and organizing their thoughts, but everyone should apply all the elements discussed in today’s lesson: a central claim, logically organized supporting claims, evidence, and reasoning to support each claim. You will add counterclaims to your outline in the following lesson (Lesson 2). Identify one claim on your outline that requires additional or stronger evidence.

4. Open Response

Several lesson assessments and the research papers will be assessed using the 12.3.2 Rubric. Each part of this rubric is aligned to specific Common Core Standards that are targeted to assess components of argument writing as well as relevant language standards. Use the W.11-12.1.a portion of the 12.3.2 Rubric and Checklist to guide your written responses to open response questions such as the following:

  • Explain your outlining process and how it informs the organization of your claim(s), reasons, and evidence.

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