Friends vs Family Relationships

Final Draft Due: Nov. 18

Format: MLA

Length: 4-6 double-spaced pages



For Essay No. 1, you were to have written your own argument inspired by one of the texts that we read for class. Essay No. 2 offers you more freedom: you will create your own argument on an issue of your choice, research for outside sources and write a researched analysis comprised of a sophisticated, nuanced claim that will sustain 4-6 pages of discussion.


Essay No. 2 requires you to integrate a minimum of five sources, of which at least three must be peer-reviewed, academic sources. Consult your notes from our classroom discussions about what constitutes a peer-reviewed source, and the materials from our library session. Note that Wikis and dictionaries do not count as sources unless you are specifically using them as part of your argument, which must be cleared with the instructor first.


When researching, let open questions guide you. Do not simply look for evidence to support a claim that you’ve already made. The source material can help you to shape your own focus and thesis statement.


Also note that you do not need to use each source equally, and probably shouldn’t. Use what is necessary to support your argument, but don’t rely heavily on lengthy quotes from your sources to pad the paper. Integrate direct quotations with your own prose, and of course, cite your sources according to MLA style.




  • When reviewing a source for possible inclusion, look at its Works Cited pages. The works cited in one source that is useful to you will undoubtedly lead to others. Do not simply choose the first five sources you come across! You will need to compile many sources to find at least five that are truly relevant and useful. See the discussion on Project Document No. 3 for more on this.
  • Form a research question that will help you think about your topic before you settle on a working thesis statement. Avoid a research question that could be easily answered “yes” or “no.” Instead ask “to what extent?”
  • Narrow your focus. Don’t try to solve a generic, enormous societal problem: think of the specific aspect of it that you could address in a single paper. For instance: “Students use technology in education… Blackboard is a common tool… Discussion boards are a common tool in Blackboard… Students might or might not be allowed anonymous posts in Blackboard… To what extent does anonymity shape student-centered online conversation?” Your researched, considered answer to that question might be your thesis statement.
  • Consider combining cultural lenses with your topic: gender, race, class, ethnicity, age, sexuality, power relationships, boundaries, access, education, technology, etc. Observing how these lenses impact your area of interest can lead you to a focused, specific thesis statement.
  • Allow writing as a process to help you determine your thesis. Collect your sources, quotations, interpretations and such from your research and analyze them, combine them. Where do they lead you? Try to avoid letting your preconceived ideas influence your research: instead of looking for sources to “prove” your stance, let the sources inform your stance.
  • This is not a book report, a factual data report or personal op-ed. We are looking for a work of analysis. Do not simply describe something, do not simply dictate policy, do not simply report data or summarize what others have argued. You must analyze all those things in forming your argument, but the argument itself is key.
  • Don’t forget the counterargument(s). Consider what a reasonable person might argue against your thesis, and address it. Don’t be afraid to alter your thesis to accommodate reasonable criticism.


Assessment Criteria:


  • A strong thesis, which is an interpretive claim and not merely an opinion or description;
  • Evidence and examples that support the thesis statement’s assertions;
  • A logical and effective structure of well-developed, concise paragraphs, smooth transitions, and a strong introduction and conclusion;
  • Familiarity with useful ideas and terms from readings and outside sources, well-integrated into the argument;
  • Language, diction, syntax, MLA style and mechanics;
  • An interesting title;
  • A Works Cited page that is properly formatted, accurate and provides full citation for all your sources.






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