Remember that English 1A papers must be argumentative, not merely informative. Review “Research Paper Topics and Instructions.”
Your document should be in MLA format. Include the following numbered sections:
- The topic you have chosen;
- Your working (tentative) thesis statement (what you hope to be able to prove);
- A summary of at least one major argument that you will develop in your paper, a potential counterargument, and your rebuttal of the counterargument (see examples); and
- At least three original research questions.
A topic is simply the general issue (subject) that you are thinking about conducting your research on. Topics can start be fairly broad at the start of the research process and start to narrow as you begin your actual research. While fairy tales provide the overall umbrella topic for our course, the research paper itself does not have to be about fairy tales or folklore. Review “Research Paper Topics and Instructions.” You need to choose a topic that will allow you to make an argument about something. That will provide your thesis and what you will defend in your paper. A research paper needs to do more than simply relate information; it has to advance an assertion and defend it.
Remember that a thesis statement is
- an assertion, not a question;
- one sentence long;
- argumentative (debatable)—it argues a position; this means that you are asserting an idea that reasonable people can either agree or disagree with (it is not simply a statement of fact or a “factoid”);
- concrete and specific—it will lead to a discussion of actions and possible solutions (what you want your readers to do); it should at least suggest what form your proposed solution would take (suggesting changes in laws or regulations, for example). See UMC, Part Four: Writing Logical and Effective Argument Papers: "Basic Paper Guidelines," pp. 77-85.
Your thesis should do more than express “wishful thinking” about what individuals, businesses, industries, professions, or segments of the government “should” do. Look at what consumer advocates, for example, advocate in the way of specific solutions.
An argument is something debatable that you offer evidence in support of. A counterargument presents an opposing claim to the one that you assert. You must be able to offer a rebuttal to a counterargument in order to bolster your claims.
Here are some examples on the topic of euthanasia (which is not a topic that we will address in this class):
Sample argument for voluntary euthanasia (allowing a person to choose to end his or her own life in some circumstances, such as suffering a debilitating and incurable fatal disease):
People should not be forced to go through terrible suffering when they develop illnesses that are both extremely painful, incurable, and which will result in death no matter what the treatment. <-- With this, the writer is making an argument in favor of something.
“Where there is life there is hope”; a cure may be found in the future for conditions that now seem hopeless.<-- With this, the writer is imagining what someone else might say to argue against the preceding argument.
Sample rebuttal to the imagined counterargument:
Even if researchers suddenly discovered a possible cure, there must be years of experimentation on animal subjects and then “blind” studies on human subjects before these potential cures can legally be made available to the general public. A person who is given an estimate of six months or less to live with an untreatable brain tumor, for example, knows that a cure literally cannot be made available in time even if there is a scientific breakthrough. <-- With this, the writer goes another step further and offers a rebuttal to what the imagined opponent argued.
A research question responds to the inquiry, “What do I want to know about my topic?” It is an organizing element for the topic under study. For example, if the topic is mental illness and homelessness (not a topic that we will be addressing), the first research question might be, “How many homeless people are suffering from a mental illness?” Other questions could include the following: “How many homeless people who are mentally ill are dangerous to themselves or others?” and “What are the laws regarding treating mentally ill people who may not wish to receive drug therapy?”
You don’t have to answer your research question in this assignment; that is what you will be able to do with your later research. Empire State College has a useful webpage on “Developing a Research Question.”I will use the following checklist to evaluate the assignment:
I will use the following checklist to evaluate the assignment:
In MLA format?
Thesis is one sentence?
|Thesis is an assertion, not a question?|
| Thesis is debatable?|
| Thesis is specific enough to set up a discussion of actions and possible solutions?|
At least one major argument?
Rebuttal to counterargument?
Three research questions?
Thorough and thoughtful response?
As you think about topics that you would like to research and write about, keep in mind that your paper must offer evidence to support a debatable thesis.
Here is a great resource for research--this is especially valuable for people who cannot attend the library research workshops: Online Advancement of Student Information Skills (OASIS)
We see them all the time. Homeless people sit at street corners, holding signs, and asking for money or food. We may look at them, choose to ignore, or choose to give, but for many of the homeless, this has become their way of life. The reason I chose this topic was because of my recent volunteer work with the Salvation Army and Thrift Store in Grand Forks. I have seen people in desperate situations and heard some stories while working with community service members during my time at the Salvation Army. I also personally worked with a homeless man every day at the Salvation Army. He was in his 50’s, tall, gray hair and a large build. He always wore layers of clothes which appeared dirty and worn. He never mentioned to me that he was homeless, but it was told to me by one of the other workers. I was also told that he often slept in the truck that was loaded daily with clothes to be sent over to Minneapolis. He always had such a positive attitude about his job, working for the Salvation Army. People in his situation are another reason I wanted to do research on the history and current epidemic of homeless in America. Locally there is not nearly enough shelter for the homeless. The cost of rent, even in this town, has increased dramatically. In order to afford an apartment, you must save more than a thousand dollars much of time. It is not an easy cycle to get out off, as many people think. As we have learned in class, women and children stay in different locations than the men, which means that families cannot stay together. Often, this fact leads families to sleep in their vehicles in order to stay together. There are many different reasons and causes for homelessness in America. Drug use is one of the earliest factors in homelessness. After the Civil War, morphine and heroin could be purchased from Sears and Roebucks catalogs. Hundreds of thousands of war veterans became addicted, and the addiction spread throughout America. The drugs were finally criminalized, but the damage had been done.
The three common terms, “hobo”, “tramp”, and “bum” came out of this era. Racial divides also still occur in the areas of healthcare, education, access to mortgages, and access to equal paying jobs among many others. Unless some type of intervention occurs, generational issues are often the rule and not the exception. Living in poverty creates depression, which can lead to drug use, alcoholism, and neglect of self and others. Poverty was a well-known issue during the Civil War and many children ended up homeless and in orphanages simply because their parents, or remaining parent, could not afford to take care of them. War often leads to loss of life, and therefore loss of income in families, especially during this time. Our country was still newly formed and there were no social welfare programs as of yet. Further along in history, during the Great Depression, jobs were lost, and the rates of homeless again, increased throughout America. Natural Disasters are another factor in the homelessness problem. The Great Chicago Fire, The San Francisco earthquake, the massive flooding of the Mississippi in the 1920s from Ohio through New Orleans displaced over 1.3 million people. The Drought of the 30s in Oklahoma and Texas, Hurricane Katrina, are just a few examples of disasters that affected millions of people’s households. The snowball effect of unemployment and poverty attribute to homelessness. People living in generational poverty, for example, may not have the knowledge or resources to become educated and move out of poverty. People living in generational poverty do not have the resources and support to become educated and move out of poverty. In 2011, the official rate of poverty in America was 15.0%, which is 46.2 million.
Another category of homeless is the very people who fought for our country: Veterans. One in three homeless people are veterans. The vast majority is single men (97%). In fact, 40% of the male homeless population is war veterans. A large percentage of these veterans (76%) experience alcohol, drug or mental health problems.3 Poverty was a well-known issue at this time and many children ended up homeless and in orphanages simply because their parents could not afford to take care of them. During the Great Depression, jobs were lost, and the rates of homeless again, increased throughout America. Natural Disasters are another factor in the homelessness problem. The Great Chicago Fire, The San Francisco earthquake, the massive flooding of the Mississippi in the 1920s from Ohio through New Orleans displaced over 1.3 million people. The Drought of the 30s in Oklahoma and Texas, Hurricane Katrina, are just a few examples of disasters that affected millions of people’s households. The snowball effect of unemployment and poverty attribute to homelessness. People living in generational poverty, for example, may not have the knowledge or resources to become educated and move out of poverty. People living in generational poverty do not have the resources and support to become educated and move out of poverty. In 2011, the official rate of poverty in America was 15.0%, which is 46.2 million. Many of the homelessness are those we do not see on street corners, asking for help. Locally, the North Dakota Coalition for Homeless People reports information regarding the homeless in North Dakota. A statewide January 25, 2012 Point-in-Time Survey of 972 Homeless People indicated: 6% stayed outside, in cars, in abandoned buildings the night of the survey 66% stayed in emergency shelters or transitional supportive housing 16% were precariously housed in motels or doubled up with family or friends and at imminent risk of being on the street 65% (635) were unaccompanied individuals
35% (337) were families, including 189 children under the age of 18 59% cannot afford rent, even if they have some income
48% were unemployed
36% had alcohol or drug abuse problems
35% had a mental illness
Who are the homeless in America? More than 42% of those accessing emergency shelter are families, and, on average these families remain in emergency shelters for 70 days, longer than either single women or single men. The primary reason for family homelessness is the lack of affordable housing, though poverty, unemployment, low-paying jobs, family disputes, substance abuse, and other factors all play significant roles in family homelessness. Recent statistics indicate that 26% of those suffering from homelessness are considered “severely mentally ill;” 19% are employed; 15% are victims of domestic violence; 13% are physically disabled; 13 are veterans; and 2% are HIV positive. Children are also not exempt from the issue of homelessness. We may not see them on the streets, but families with children are the largest growing segment of the homeless population. The education of these children is also affected by this lack of stability. Many times, because of the lack of a permanent residence, children miss or change schools, disrupting their education. According to the Institute for Children and Poverty, homeless children are nine times more likely to repeat a grade, four times more likely to drop out of school, and three times more likely to be placed in special education programs than their housed peers. Runaway youth are also at a high level of risk for homelessness. Homeless and runaway youth had been interviewed after getting into trouble with the law while out on the streets. It was found that some young people felt like they had to make mistakes before they realized they needed help. Rather than learning from seeing their friends get into trouble, they had to try out risky behavior themselves and see the consequences first hand.1 The desire to self-help is key to helping homeless of any age, especially the teenager who often feels like he/she is old enough to take care of his/her self. In this same study, there were three main things that were key to helping out these youth. The first was that the programs designed for runaway and homeless youth need to be flexible and person-centered. The second is that people are more valuable than programs and that process is more important than outcomes. The third is the importance of family and friends. Even after these kids leave or abandon their homes, these relationships often need healing.
Homelessness is a national problem and is not exclusive to cities. Rural areas make up 7 percent of the population. Catastrophic life events can trigger homelessness. There is a quote from a publication called “Starting Point Community Analysis” that states “We are all one life event away from homelessness.” For many of low income families, this is a true statement. Single moms in America have grown dramatically over the past 50 years. This has created an epidemic of poverty in our country. So many factors contribute to homelessness, many of which are unavoidable. Personal accounts of the homeless in America stated the intense loneliness of being homeless. Because of this loneliness, many single homeless people turn to drugs or alcohol for comfort and a way to escape their current situation. One homeless man stated that once an employer found out he had no phone, no vehicle, and no residence, his application was thrown away. Without assistance, many of these people give up hope on anything better for themselves. It is not as easy as “getting a job”, as many people are quick to say when seeing a homeless person begging on the street. It is an epidemic of the young, the old, the educated, and the uneducated. Many of these homeless stay out of sight. As social workers, we can provide information on assistance and programs that are available through the state and government. Many of these people simply need a hand up and do not know where to start. By working with these organizations, we can get started on helping via drug/alcohol programs, psychiatric care, financial resources, career and housing assistance. On a micro level, we may need to start with the basic needs of the homeless person. Shelter is the first need to be addressed, but the reasons behind being homeless also have to be addressed. There is usually a root of the problem when it comes to homelessness. Some examples may be a recent divorce, addiction, mental illness, or loss of employment. Even the smallest factor can change someone’s life and create a chain of events that they never planned for or saw coming. Also on the micro level we can work as counselors or referrals to health care professionals such as psychiatrists. For those homeless with mental illness, a facility and/or medication may be something that will help them to function in society. Also, introducing the homeless to any programs or help that is available in their local area would be an example of micro level social work. There are a vast array of concerns and reasons for homeless that need to be addressed. On a mezzo level, we may work with organizations such as http://www.endhomelessness.org, http://nationalhomeless.org , or more locally, www.ndhomelesscoalition.org to help raise money to help homeless people in need and further the current help of these organizations. On a macro level, we could work to campaign to raise government funding and policy changes for the homeless in America. An example would be shelter for families to go to together. This is not available locally right now.
Homelessness is a country-wide issue. It does not discriminate. From the wealthiest, to those who have lost everything due to the failing economy, to the poorest who grew up having nothing, homelessness is an epidemic that spans the history of our nation.
1. Kurtz, P. D. P. D., Lindsey, E. P. D., Jarvis, S. M. E. ,. S., & Nackerud, L. P. D. (2000). How runaway and homeless youth navigate troubled waters: The role of formal and informal helpers. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 17(5), 381-402. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1007507131236 2. Heidi, M. (2011, November 16). The history of homelessness in america 1640s to present. Retrieved from http://www.dceh.org/the-history-of-homelessness-in-america-1640s-to-present/ 3. http://www.supporthomelessveterans.org/statistics.html