Does marijuana use affect the transition to heavier drugs?

 Individual Argumentative Research Paper


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Now that you have had the opportunity to research and write a bit about your chosen topic, you can start to really enter the conversation and provide an argument to help you answer one of the issues that exist within your topic.

**Please note that this paper is worth 25% of your total grade. And, students must earn at least a D on this paper to pass the class.

The Assignment

Your first essay for this class focused on the conversation around and within your topic. You should have been able to gain a pretty good understanding of various points of view, different voices, different sets of facts and data, and the overall gist of the issues within the topic. The assignment also asked you to come up with a research question or point of inquiry that you would use to drive your research for the Argumentative Research Paper (this assignment).

So, before you begin, first go back through your first essay and read through it noting the complexities, controversies, etc. Did you have a point of inquiry or research question in that paper? Now, go through your research journal. At this point in the semester, you should have a minimum of 8-10 sources (most of you probably have more). Read through those; where are their unknowns or disagreements or opposing sets of data?

Your second essay asked you to find a term that is vital or at least important to the topic and the arguments within that topic. You were then asked to define that term and while showing why this term and this definition were so important to the argument(s) within this topic.

From all of this you are going to develop a focused research question.


The Process: Research and the Argument

Once you have that research question, you will continue to do research to try and find an answer to that question. Cast a wide net at first and then as you start to better understand different points of view, different sets of data/facts, narrow your research. The answer you find to this research question is your argument. From that you develop a working thesis.

Working Thesis: Often we like to talk about having a working thesis as you research and write. A working thesis acts as a guide as we write and continue to research, developing a sound argument. We want to allow our thesis to change as we learn more through both research and writing – hence the term ‘working thesis.’ Once we have done enough writing and research and are confident in our argument, we create the actual thesis.

Structuring the Paper

How you structure your paper is up to you, but be sure to consider your topic and the kinds of readers you will have. Will you decide to follow the Classical (Aristotielian), Toulmin, or the Rogerian Model? There are more options, of course, but these are the most common and ones we have touched upon this semester.

Choosing an approach is based on a couple of things, most importantly your argument and your audience (those you need to convince). Take care in making this decision.

You will also need to attend to your possible readers. Why should they care? What kind of language do they understand? What are the concerns, beliefs, or biases of those you are trying to convince?

You will, of course, also need to first give your readers a way into your topic/paper. The reader needs a reason to care to read the paper and invest in the argument. One way to do this is to show a current conversation, news article, event, etc. that connects to your topic/paper.

Because this is an argument and not just research, be sure you are attending to the argument part. Don’t assume that your reader will know how the research you are providing supports or rebuts the points you want. Instead, develop that conversation for the reader. Bring them along your thought process and your argument. Consider your wording as well.



  • 1,750 – 2,500 words, not including reference page, title page, or abstract (I don’t require an abstract)
  • About 30 percent of the paper will most likely be research and about 70 percent of the paper should be your own words and ideas. This is just a rough estimate meant as a guide for you
  • Minimum of 8 credible, valuable sources that help develop this argument.
  • Organized in a way that shows an understanding of the topic, nuance, and reader needs.
  • Proper APA format and documentation/citation of all research.
  • Well written with few to no mechanical errors and evidence of care of craft.


*Remember that 10% of your paper grade comes from the workshop. If you fail to have a finished draft by the assigned date ready for your classmate to review, your final paper grade will be lowered by 10% (approx. one-full letter grade). If you do not review (and make substantial comments) your classmate’s completed draft by the assigned date, your final paper grade will be lowered by 10% (approx. one-full letter grade).



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