On one hand, writing this type of research paper is one of the easiest forms of academic writing - everybody loves to argue. Who doesn't have an opinion on everything? The difference is that in academic argumentative writing, you need to present authoritative sources and logical reasoning to justify your thesis. It’s not just about subjective opinions supported by personal experiences or secondhand anecdotes. Find out more about the essentials to a good argumentative research paper below:
Ingredient 1: A Current Controversial TopicFinding the appropriate subject matter and looking for an interesting debatable point about it is the first piece of the puzzle. Just remember that some things have already been argued to death - so avoid politically charged or religiously fanatical topics which your professor has heard before. This includes capital punishment, whether God exists, or the first amendment (freedom of speech.) Also avoid picking argumentative research paper topics that are too trivial to offer any academic value to your "audience"; those related to recreation or personal preferences (i.e. choosing to be a single mother, liking pop music over rock, etc.)
Recommended Reading: There are many universities which offer online sample topics that you can browse. Check out the University of Florida's archive of argumentative research paper topics at "The University Writing Center".
Ingredient 2: Thought Provoking ThesisNow that you've got your topic down, its time to go into “investigative reporter” mode to spot that all too valuable thesis statement. A thesis is basically the side of the argument that you've chosen – the point which you will convince the paper’s reader to agree with. Before choosing one, research your subject matter thoroughly because you'll never know which side works best for you. Play devil’s advocate and take both side’s pros and cons. A good research paper - argumentative or any - requires that you have STRONG feelings about your chosen thesis. This is the key that the whole paper will revolve around.
Recommended Reading: Get help for developing your thesis at Purdue University's Online Writing Lab's (Owl) "Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements".
Ingredient 3: Attention Grabbing Topic Sentences for Supporting EvidenceIt's time to establish your argument with solid, authoritative facts. If you want to write good topic sentences, you need the most interesting points of your thesis well laid out. Find the best primary sources you can use - they can help you with your induction process. Your argumentative research paper will need statistics, proven examples and facts from official, public and private archives.
Recommended Reading: To know what primary sources are, check out Wikipedia's definition: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primary_source. You can also get good topic sentence ideas at Hamilton College's online page for persuasive essay writing.
Ingredient 4: Persuasive "So What" Type of ConclusionMost students mistake the conclusion part as just a recapping of the thesis statement - you can further your point with the 'So What' feature to be a more effective research writer. This part of the argumentative research paper states the implication of your conclusion - what does proving your point mean to the subject matter concerned? Can it move your reader to action? Here is where you have your paper’s climax – so save your best argument here. Just remember to keep your post conclusion point relevant and small so that it won’t need more supporting evidence.
Recommended Reading: You can find the detailed points of the different parts of an argumentative research paper here: The University of Washington's sample argumentative paper format.