Mission: The goal of these response papers is to encourage you to think critically about the material, formulate an argument based on your thinking, and present your argument in a clear, coherent, and concise paper. Argument: It is up to you to formulate an argument on the material. You should never watch, listen to, or read anything passively, so always be thinking about themes, problems, and questions as you read the material. Your thesis statement, or the sentence that tells us what your argument is, can be at either the beginning or the end of your introduction. This statement tells us your argument and gives us an idea of where your paper is headed. A good way to get the ball rolling when you are stuck is to ask yourself some questions: What is the author’s argument, and is it convincing? What are the weaknesses of the work? What are the strengths? What are some themes that emerge from the author’s discussion of the subject? A good argument should be plausible, but it should also be debatable, i.e., a point with which an intelligent person could disagree.
Organization: A good paper MUST have an introduction, a conclusion, and a main body consisting of several paragraphs in between that develop the evidence for the argument. Each paragraph should have a “topic sentence” that tells what the paragraph is about and gives the reader an idea of how it relates to the main argument. Use paragraphs to show the paper’s structure. For example: a.) Introductory Paragraph (including argument) b.) Main Body Paragraph 1 c.) Main Body Paragraph 2 d.) Main Body Paragraph 3 e.) Concluding Paragraph You can, of course, have more than five paragraphs, but you should think of each paragraph as a piece of evidence that proves your point. Creating an outline before writing your paper is an effective way to organize your ideas.