Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Research Essay Assignment: Defending Your Park

Our capstone assignment for this semester is the production of a lengthy essay that demonstrates 1) a working demonstration of the profile form; 2) a complex understanding of an issue endangering your chosen topic; 3) an ability to utilize rhetorical strategies for persuasion; and 4) use of recent and varied source work in MLA format.

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Think of your Research Essay Assignment as an outgrowth of your Place Profile. In fact, if your topic carries over well from that assignment, you may use both the topic and any portion of that essay that is applicable to our current project. If your Place Profile topic doesn’t fit well with this assignment or you can’t find enough quality sources to satisfy the basic requirements or if you just want to write on another park, you may and should change topics. The first half of our Research Essay is basically a profile, but instead of developing a theme around a notable element of the place, you should present a thesis statement in the introduction and emphasize the importance of this place in terms of its conservation/preservation. Why is it important that this place continues to exist? What is the main threat to that existence?

The second half of your Research Essay should persuasively present the issue facing your topic. How does this issue impact or threaten your park/place? What is the history of this issue? Where does it stand now? You will be assessed on your ability to think and write critically here; as well, you should be able to persuade your reader that your place/park needs protection. While persuasion should be highlighted in the second half of the essay, don’t miss opportunities to persuade your audience during the profile section using detail and description, anecdote, and personal experience.

You will also produce a Multimodal project that will go hand-in-hand with the Research Essay, but we’ll get into those specifics later. Suffice it to say that you should keep track of your sources and, while composing your project, begin to think about how to format it into a mixed media presentation. During research, it will also be helpful to save any useful images or recordings and note their context or attribution information for documentation purposes.

Our Research Assignment’s goal is to educate your audience on a particular park (or preserved site) and what issue threatens it, persuade the reader by providing evidence that supports your claim, and organize the material in a logical and easily comprehensible manner. Our Research Assignment is a thesis-driven form of writing in that you will need to provide the reader with a clear thesis that is a debatable point and prove that stance during the essay. However, keep in mind a few things about building your thesis: 1) it should be a statement rather than a sentence (it’s OK for it to run longer than one sentence); 2) it should be written after all research is done and you are informed about your issue (perhaps even after the body of your essay is written); and 3) it must be a debatable point, i.e. you may not choose to “discuss” something, nor may you defend a “fact.”

One thing to keep in mind is that your Research Project is not a formal argument but a hybrid form of writing that employs the skills of expository writing, issue-based writing, and persuasion. It does not utilize the same form as many argumentative essays.

We’ll work on topic generation during this week’s lesson, but for now, remember that your topic should be related to the course theme and fit the assignment in size and scope.

Purpose: The primary goal of the assignment is to educate the audience on a place and an issue and persuade the reader to agree with you concerning an issue facing your park (or preserved site). To do the latter, you will employ the conventions of the classical rhetorical strategies.

Audience: Simply, a general, well-educated audience, such as your classmates and professors, people who you only convince with solid source work.

Requirements: Your essay must be at least 6 pages long and include material from at least six sources. Outside material should come from reputable and professional sources and/or scholarly journals; they should not be encyclopedias—online or otherwise—or websites with few references.

Format: Your essay must be in MLA format with in-text citations that refer to an accompanying Works Cited page (which is not included in the page limit). You may use a website like: . Be aware that not using source work for the essay or formatting it incorrectly will greatly affect your grade and standing in the class.

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