Composition 111 Explanatory Synthesis Paper For this paper, you need to select a

Composition 111 Explanatory Synthesis Paper
For this paper, you need to select a problem to explain to your reader in 1250-1500
words, plus a works cited page (about four pages total: these instructions are 2330 words
long). Please include your total word count at the end of your essay.You may select as a
paper topic almost any problem which concerns you or which you would like to learn
more about (a list of off limits topics is located later on in these instructions); and you
will need to locate at least three or four good quality outside sources. An explaining
paper may tell the reader what the problem is, for whom or in what way it is a problem,
what is causing it, why people disagree about what causes the problem or disagree about
how to fix it, and the various positions people take on this subject. You may not need to
cover all these things in your paper, but this list is intended to give you an idea of the type
of information you may include in your essay. You will not be taking a side on this issue
and do not include your opinion in this paper. You will take a side later in the problem
solving paper (your final paper). The object of this paper is to make the problem as clear
and understandable as possible for the reader and to do this by incorporating material
from outside sources to define, elaborate on, and provide examples of your problem.
The paper is due to Blackboard between August 4-7 by 10 pm.(In connection with
this essay, you will be writing a draft of your works cited page with annotations. That is a
homework project, and it is due to Blackboard between July 23-26.) Remember, no
emailed papers will be accepted. You must use your own logic, analysis, and explanation
in addition to three or four outside sources to explain the source material for your readers
or to clarify how the information from one source adds to or clarifies or supports
information from another source.. You must include material from at least three good
quality outside sources to receive full credit for this project. When you do use outside
sources, remember to cite them in the body of your paper when you use material from the
sources as well as including sources on a works cited page at the end of the paper. For
this paper, use MLA format. (We will go over MLA format in class, and there is a section
on MLA in the handbook.) You can also find the latest changes in MLA format on
Purdue University’s OWL (online writing lab).You must credit each source you use
every time you use it in the body of the paper. It is plagiarism if you do not cite your
sources each time you use them or if you only cite them in a works cited page at the end
of your essay but not in the body of the paper. You must credit material from your
sources, even if you put their material into your own words (summary or paraphrase). It
is also plagiarism if you use the exact wording from the source but do not put those exact
words in quotation marks and credit the source. Please see your handbook, ask me, or go
to the Writing Center if you have questions about crediting material. Also, the Owens
Library home page and the Writing Center have format sheets available to show you the
models for MLA citation format.
You should use sources that are appropriate to your subject, that is, they should be
sources from people, texts, or institutions which are reputable and which have expertise
in your topic area. Do not use outdated material. Anything older than 2017 is pretty
outdated. Just because something is in print or on-line does not make it a good source.
Use your common sense and critical thinking skills when choosing source materials.
Avoid sources which are just advertisements and want you to buy a product from the site.
Also, avoid sources which ask you for personal information. Credible sources won’t do
that. For a college level paper, a dictionary or encyclopedia article (this includes on-line
encyclopedias) is not considered a sophisticated enough source. You may refer to those
texts, and if you do, they must be listed on your works cited page. But these sources will
not count as your required three or four main sources. Do not use Wikipedia. Anyone
can submit an article there; there is no quality control. Be more selective. Also, do not
use blogs or Facebook pages, etc., since most of those sources do not have expertise in
the topic. The Ohiolink Databases, through the Owens library, are a good source of
articles on a variety of topics. Try them. Also, keep in mind that not every source you
locate will be appropriate for your project. Some may be out of date; some may be off
your focus; some may have logical flaws or other problems. So, if you must cite at least
three sources in the paper, you will probably need to find six to eight potential sources
and use only the best ones for your paper. So, please do not wait till the last minute to
begin your research.
Failure to credit your outside sources is plagiarism and will result in a zero for the
Topics to Avoid
I will deduct 10 points from the paper if you write about one of these topics.
Do not write about abortion or religion. People lose their minds when dealing with
these topics, and I do not want to read a rant. I’m looking for quality information, well
explained and supported by good source materials. Avoid topics which have been written
about forever: the death penalty, lowering the drinking age, gun control, physician
assisted suicide, prayer in schools, legalizing marijuana, the ozone layer or global
warming, gay marriage, or problem of cell phones/texting and driving, college athletes
getting paid. If you come up with a more current problem, you have a better chance of
writing an interesting and unique paper. Think about all the possible topics out there. Pick
something more creative. If you are not sure whether a topic is acceptable, please email
me and ask. Thanks.
Use specific examples, facts, and figures for support and explanation of any claims you
make. Any generalizations made in the paper must be clarified and explained. Also, any
jargon words used must be defined or explained for a general audience.
Remember, your paper must have a purpose. The reader should not be left wondering,
“Why did he/she tell me that?” Your purpose for writing, whether stated in your thesis
statement, your conclusion, or implied in the text, should be clear. Why is it a problem?
For whom is it a problem? Why should the reader care about this problem? Remember,
this is not an argument. Right now, you are working on providing information to your
reader, reporting on the problem, so provide clear, unbiased information. You may
report what different sides in the debate are claiming (that is, you may report what others
are arguing about your topic), but you should not be taking a side, yourself, on any issues
you discuss in this essay.
Remember, you will be creating a problem solving essay for the final paper, so you may
choose to write on this topic again, but for the final paper you will be proposing a
solution to the problem (which means an argument). So save your source articles and use
them again for the creation of the final paper if you wish. But, this also means that you
must select a problem that has more than one possible solution. It must be arguable.
That is, don’t write about a problem like diabetes because the solution is to watch your
diet, take your medication, and exercise. There is nothing to argue. That is what you do
for that problem. So, a problem with only one real solution will not work for the problem
solving project. A problem like the damage done by fracking or the issue of sex
trafficking in Toledo is more the sort of problem you need here. There are multiple
possibilities for action. This gives you plenty to discuss in your explaining paper and
something to argue for the final, problem solving, paper.
How to Include Your Own Thought
Remember that while you do not include your opinion on the topic, your own thought
should be in the essay. So, you can get your thought into the text by clarifying the data
from your sources, explaining what the statistics suggest about the problem, discussing
how an anecdotal example clarifies the situation, explaining to your readers why they
should know about or care about the problem, explaining how several sources reinforce
each other or discussing the contradictions you find in your source materials. Explain
why people do not agree. Analyze the points being made by sources. OK?
Also, you need to use your own logic and explanation to tie your source material
smoothly and clearly into your overall discussion. So, do not just plop a quote or
paraphrase into your essay and move on. Be sure you explain to the reader the
significance of the material you include: what does it mean in plain language? How
does it reinforce or contradict other material you have included in your essay? Why
should your reader care about this information? This is the sort of material that
will help guide your reader through your information. It will also get your thought
into the paper and smooth the flow of the essay. So, remember that synthesis means
joining material from multiple sources with your own thought.
Also, synthesis does NOT mean a series of summaries of articles! You must demonstrate
that you understand what your sources are saying by breaking the essay into key points
about the problem and using several, smaller quotes or examples from two or three or
more sources. Then, use your explanation and thought to show how those details from
multiple sources work together to create a clear, well explained point about the problem.
Do not have an entire paragraph from one source, then the next entire paragraph from one
source. That is not synthesis. You may want to begin each paragraph with a topic
sentence of your own that will set up for readers what the content of that paragraph will
be. Then, bring in smaller bits of data from your sources and tie them together and
explain them with your own language. This is a difficult skill to master. That is why you
are asked to work on it in two papers in Composition 1. (And again in Comp. II if you are
required to take that class.)
We will peer review drafts. Of course, you are always encouraged to ask me questions,
or make an appointment with me, or go to the Writing Center for additional assistance.
When the completed investigating and explaining essay is turned in, you should also turn
in your rough draft and your brainstorming worksheet. However, you need to keep your
articles to use for the final essay if you plan to work with the same problem..
You may select almost any problem you care about, but here is a brief brainstorming list
to help you start thinking about topics.
Discuss the issue of outsourcing American jobs. What sort of jobs are outsourced?
Where do they go? Who benefits from this practice? Who is harmed by it? What is the
government’s position on outsourcing?
Or, what impact will the development of artificial intelligence have on employment in
America? Which jobs will be taken over by robots? What will be the impact on the
economy? Will enough new jobs be created to replace those lost? What becomes of the
unemployed people?
Discuss the problem of homelessness among college students. How many students are
affected by this problem? What is causing it? What impact is the problem having on
higher education in America?
What is the problem of e-waste. Why is it growing? Who is suffering from the problem?
Have any solutions been proposed?
Toledo is third in the United States for sex trafficking. How did this happen? Is anything
being done to stop it?
What is fracking? Why do we do it? Is there any evidence of what this process can do to
the environment? Does it provide a good supply of energy? Is fracking an answer to our
energy crisis or an ecological disaster in the making?
Discuss the problem of honey bee die off. Why are bees dying? Why is that a potential
For a different focus on AI, what potential problems may be caused by Artificial
Intelligence? What moral/legal impact might it have? Will AI robots deserve legal rights
and protections since they can think like humans? Can they be citizens? (Which country
offered AI robot Sophia citizenship?) What legal complications are likely to arise in the
not too distant future due to intelligent robots?
These topics are only a few suggestions to get you started thinking about a focus. If you
do choose to work with one of these topics, it will probably need to be narrowed down.
The questions I have listed are brainstorming questions intended to help you gather data
to consider including in the essay. You should NOT include all the information you
discover. You must edit. Do not write the essay as a list of responses to these questions.
That would be choppy and unclear for your readers. Feel free to work on any topic which
interests you as long as it is about a problem that is arguable and about which good
sources are available ( and it is not abortion or religion or the others I asked you not to
write about). Remember, you have the option to revisit this topic for your final paper, so
choose something that matters to you and do thorough research. If you are still stuck for
a topic idea, check out or’s program Frontline for topic ideas.
As always, if you have questions, feel free work with me. Or, you may go to the Writing
Center for assistance. Just remember, creating a good paper takes time and more than one
draft. Please do not wait till the last minute to ask for help

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