Complex Research Question

  1. Create a complex research question.
  2. Form a research strategy.
  3. Integrate and discuss sources effectively.
  4. Understand MLA conventions and citations.

This semester you will explore one topic in depth from a variety of genres (a narrative, an annotated bibliography, and a researched argument). As you get started on this journey, it is important that you start out with a plan. This is why your first paper is a proposal.

A proposal is a gameplan. It lets the reader know what you want to discuss, how you plan on approaching the topic, and what you think you might say about the topic. Like a gameplan, things might change. When we research and write, we discover new things; our thinking should change. This means that your proposal is not set in stone. It is fine—and actually good—if you change your mind about what exactly you want to cover. In fact, if your proposed thesis does not change at all throughout your writing process, this might be a sign that you aren’t critically thinking about the topic.

Topic Selection

You are free to choose your topic; however, you must have a personal connection with your topic (you will be writing a narrative after all). Additionally, there are a few things that you might want to consider:

–Consider a problem that you’d like to explore. Students often find proposal style arguments (identifying a problem and offering a solution) to be more engaging to write about.

–Can you make your topic something local (a proposed bill, a problem in your town)?

— Can you make your topic connect to your major or future career?

–Look at the upcoming presidential election. See where the candidates stand on certain topics. Are there certain issues that you are passionate about? How might those issues connect with your life?


Consider using headings to organize your paper. Remember, this is just the beginning of your research journey. You should have a specific research question in mind; a thesis is not required yet. Your proposal needs to cover the following:

  1. Introduction: Introduce your topic. What is your research question?
  2. Pathos: What is your personal experience with this topic?
  3. Logos: Explain both sides of your topic.

-What are the topics that you’ll need to address?

-What questions do you want to address in this paper?

-What are your own thoughts on the subject matter? Do you have an idea of what you might want to argue?

Cite at least 1 source.

  1. Ethos: Have at least 2 credible sources.

-Summarize and explain why you think these two sources are helpful.

-What other research you plan on obtaining.

-What research are you looking for to help your argument?

  1. Questions/Concerns: What concerns do you have about your topic?

– What problems do you foresee? What questions do you have for me, and what do you want me to give you feedback on?

-What do you hope your readers will take away from your argument?

-Who do you see as your target audience for this topic?

Because this is a writing process class, you need to reflect on your writing experience on the attached cover memo. This should be on the first page of your proposal. NOTE: This does not count towards your word count or page-length requirement.


  • 4-5 pages, typed, MLA format (TNR, 12 point font, 1-inch margins, double-spaced)
  • 2 credible sources incorporated throughout the text and cited properly
  • A well-thought out research question.
  • Discussion of your personal connection with the topic (pathos)
  • Discussion of your topic from both sides (logos).
  • Discussion of research (ethos).
  • Proper citation, including an MLA Works Cited page.
  • Cover memo (see attachment

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