First, think about an interesting subject or theme, or about a news story or public concern that you know about. (Ideas: Russia and the world; the Olympic ideal; a perfect vacation/holiday; fate and freedom; should animals ever be kept in zoos?; intellectual property in a world of torrents; the cost of education; alcohol and addiction; starting your own business; finding a soulmate; online friendships; are libraries obsolete?; preserving historic buildings.)
In your essay, use these phrases if they are helpful.
Write an opening paragraph, perhaps with a phrase from this list:
- What would you do if you only had _____? According to ______, the most important ______ is _______.
- The increasing number [or amount] of ______ has become an urgent problem.
- Many of my friends think that ______. I agree with them, and here's why. OR However, I believe they are wrong.
- Ever since the events at ______, journalists and politicians have argued for more ______.
- One day I was on my way to _______, when suddenly ________. I realized that ________ and decided to do something about it.
In your second section, express and explain your point of view. Here you might use another author to explain how you learned about this point of view or why you think it is correct.
In your third section, express and explain the "other side's" point of view, or explain the weaknesses of your own point of view. Here you could use a quotation or a paraphrase that represents the viewpoint you disagree with.
Finally, draw a conclusion or make a recommendation to the reader.
At the very end of your essay, list the authors, their books or articles or Web pages. If you use only one source, put the full details of that source here, as we discussed in class. If you have more than one source, put "Works Cited" at the top of the list, and then list the individual sources. See this page for more guidelines.
By the way, the guidelines I'm quoting and linking are based on American standards for the humanities. Rules and guidelines are different in other English-speaking countries. In anything you write, choose one standard and use it consistently; don't mix standards from different countries or systems in one paper.
Here are a couple of Web sites that explain both the methods and the rules for finding and citing other people's work: