Academic Prose Assignment

Purpose and Goals:

To practice writing academic prose, you will write a researched argument. You will need to support your argument with various kinds of evidence. You will position your claim (“I Say”) in relation to the claims of other scholars (“They Say”). The goal of this assignment is to help you practice the conventions of academic writing, which you will use in research papers throughout your time as an undergraduate. Your argument should be about 1,500 words.

Genre Conventions:

  • Sources and Evidence
    • Bizup’s B.E.A.M.
      • “Background” sources provide general information or factual evidence
      • “Exhibit” sources are those which you analyze or interpret
      • “Argument” sources are those whose claims you engage
      • “Method” sources are those from which you derive a governing concept
    • Argument sources are “They Say” sources—things other people have said about your topic
    • Exhibit sources are texts or artifacts which you interpret—evidence for your “I Say”
    • You will need to briefly summarize arguments opposed to your own and refute them by showing that your argument is better
    • All sources should be properly cited using MLA format
  • Structure
    • A thesis statement toward the end of your introduction should convey the crux of your argument
    • Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence which encapsulates the main point of that paragraph and reflects one element of your overall thesis
    • Each paragraph should end with a transition that connects it to the next paragraph
    • Your conclusion should state the implications of your argument, rather than repeat your thesis
    • Use meta-commentary to help the reader follow your argument
  • Style
    • You can combine formal and colloquial language, but do not use informal language alone
    • Use an authoritative tone when making claims
    • Use language that is as precise as possible, including appropriate jargon
    • Use qualified language when necessary to soften or nuance your claims


This assignment will comprise 5% of your total grade for the course. You will be graded on:

  • Sources and evidence—30%
  • Structure—30%
  • Style—30%
  • Grammar and Mechanics—10%

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