WR 121 Rogers: Assignment

This research guide supports students in Joe Rogers' WR121 class and the opinion/editorial writing and research assignment.

Opinion/Editorial Assignment

ESSAY #3: Opinion Editorial (Writing an Argument)


In 4-6 double-spaced pages, compose an evidence-based argument about an issue that concerns you. Fill your essay with persuasive writing and enough evidence to adequately support each claim. In addition, consider possible rebuttals to your argument (what would the “other side” say? what are their best arguments? how do you respond?) and bring them into your essay. 


Narrow your topic enough so that 4-6 pp. can do it justice. Don’t try to write about climate change as a whole—write about how cow farts are killing us all. Don’t try to write about childhood obesity—write about how unhealthy school lunches are making kids fat. 


Methods to consider when writing your op-ed include definition (boiling a lobster alive and then eating it is unethical); cause and effect (we crave horror movies because we are all a bit mentally ill). A definitional claim says that something is or is not something else. A causal claim says why something happens, or shows the consequences of it.


Another method to consider is proposal. To come up with a topic, you might begin with something you consider to be a problem in society. Discrimination against ugly people? An International Space Station that just sits up there doing nothing? Inadequate suicide barriers on the Golden Gate Bridge?  Identifying something specific that you see as a problem can inspire you to argue for a way to solve it. 


As always, pay close attention to topic sentences and transitions as you unify your paragraphs around parts of your persuasive case so that you give yourself the space to adequately develop all your ideas. Work your research into the essay seamlessly with effective paraphrasing and accurate citations. You are trying here to create a piece of persuasive writing that is a synthesis of your original thinking and the thinking of others (experts, witnesses, etc.) Back up every single claim you make. And summon all your powers or pathos, ethos and logos to appeal to your audience. 


Good luck!


1. see David Foster Wallace’s amazing essay “Consider the Lobster” 

2.  see Stephen King’s killer essay “Why We Crave Horror Movies”