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17.7 From Personal to Public Writing: An Argument Citing Authority

Including other people's ideas can give your argument power to persuade a larger public.

  1. Study the essay on a controversial stand (see #4, above), marking ideas that you think other people have written or talked about. Working with a partner, develop a list of search terms for finding articles in the library on your topic. For example, on the tobacco taxes topic:
    • tobacco and taxes
    • taxes and smoking prevention
    • smoking and legislation

    On the public service credit topic:

    • volunteering and payment
    • public service and academic credit
    • service learning
    • cooperative learning

  2. Go to the library and find an article on your topic in a periodical or on the Internet. Copy two or three sections of the article that are relevant to your points. Copy the lines accurately, punctuation and all, and collect all of the following information:
    • author of the words you're copying
    • title of the article or webpage where you found these words
    • title of the periodical or of the organization sponsoring the webpage
    • date and place of publication
    • page number or webpage URL

  3. Interview somebody whose opinions are respected on this topic. Write down segments of his or her words accurately. Collect all of the following information:
    • name and title (or other identification) of the person you interviewed
    • date and place of interview

  4. Fit the other people's ideas into your paper, either to support or expand your ideas, or to clarify your opponent's arguments so that you can argue better against them. You may paraphrase the new ideas (write them in your own words) or quote them (copy the best parts word for word, in quotation marks). In either case, you must document the source of these new ideas (tell the reader who said these things, where, and when). There are many styles of documentation, ranging from brief to very thorough. Ask your teacher what style to use, or check "Guide to Writing Research Papers.".

    check this out

  5. Adjust your own arguments to make room for or to develop the new ideas you've added. Trade papers with your partner and respond to each other's work before preparing your final draft.

Clicking on the "Check this Out" button to the right will take you to "Hot Paper Topics," a Web site maintained by the librarians of O'Keefe Library at St. Ambrose University (Davenport, Iowa) that not only lists topics for argument papers, but provides hyperlinks to information resources on the Internet. Another nicely organized source of academic information on the World Wide Web is the Academic Weblists at Capital Community College in Hartford.

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