Now that you’ve completed your annotated bibliography, you may find yourself struggling with how to begin the rough draft of the researched position paper assignment. A researched position paper is simply an argumentative essay in which you take a position on a chosen topic and defend it with secondary sources. While it may be easy for you to state your position and reasons for your argument, you may find it difficult to incorporate your secondary sources into your own draft and still maintain your own voice. Now is the time to break out the scissors.
In this exercise, you are becoming part of the academic discussion, or discourse community, on your chosen topic. Now that you have located sources that either agree or disagree with your position, it’s time to see how those sources inform your thesis. If your annotated bibliography is printed on continuous pages, cut the annotations apart making certain to leave the bibliographical information with each annotation. Once you have done this, arrange the annotations on a table in front of you and imagine that each source is a person standing before you speaking. The topic about which they are speaking is the information contained in your annotation.
Now imagine that your best friend just walked up behind you and asked, “Hey, what are you all discussing?” Your one or two sentence answer is your thesis. That response sums up the gist of the argument being discussed and makes clear your position on the topic. Even if you had a working thesis beforehand, it’s okay to revise it at this point to more clearly match the debate being presented by your sources. It’s still your position – after all, you chose the sources.
Next, in selecting how to arrange the sources to create a rough draft, imagine the conversation again. Which one of the sources provides the strongest support for your position? Which one offers a counterargument? Which one(s) provide evidence which gives the argument logos credibility? As you hear the conversation in your head, arrange your annotations to begin to visualize the outline for your rough draft. However, do not copy/paste the annotations into your rough draft. Instead, incorporate the information you’ve identified into your own argument making sure to be cognizant of syntax.Pantuso, Terri, Sarah LeMire, and Kathy Anders, eds. Informed Arguments: A Guide to Writing and Research. 3rd ed. College Station: Texas A&M University, 2022. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.