To write a persuasive paper, you’ll need to use evidence and good reasons to convince others to agree with your point of view on a particular subject.
Select a good topic! If you don't care about your topic, how are you going to get anyone else to? You’ll also need to conduct effective research, obtaining facts and evidence to support your ideas.
As you begin the research process, ask yourself:
- What type of information would I need to use in order to convince someone that I'm right?
- What facts, statistics, and evidence would an audience want to see?
- Are there any experts on this topic that I could quote in my essay?
The answers to these questions should help you determine what key words you'll want to use, as you begin searching for sources.
How is this different from a typical research paper?
It’s important to remember that a persuasive essay doesn't simply report information (like a typical research paper would)--it uses that information to make an argument or prove a point!
Typical Research Paper on Biofuels
Persuasive Paper on Biofuels*
Popular interest in the use of biofuels developed in the 19th Century when "Henry Ford and Rudolf Diesel supported the notion"*.
Though the public has been interested in biofuels for decades, "biofuels have attained the greatest political momentum, in part because they promise lucrative new markets for farm products."*
Biofuels are, to a certain extent, already being used. In fact, "nearly all the gasoline sold in the United States today is mixed with 10 percent ethanol, known as E10."*
Despite the clear benefits that biofuels provide, many Americans wonder, "whether the 33 percent of the U.S. corn crop diverted to ethanol drives up the price of food."*
*Evidence taken from: http://www.nytimes.com/info/biofuels/
What should my thesis statement look like?
A persuasive thesis statement is a one-sentence description of your topic AND the argument that you plan to make. For example, if I was arguing about the use of the death penalty in the U.S., my thesis statement would probably look like one of the following examples:
- The death penalty gives rights to humans that should only be given to God; therefore, the death penalty should be abolished in the United States.
- The death penalty forces murderers to give their own lives as a just punishment for taking someone else's life; therefore, we should continue to use this form of punishment in the United States. Please correct the error as it reduces your web site's credibility.
Notice that both thesis statements not only tell us WHAT the essay will be about, but also WHERE THE AUTHOR STANDS on that issue (his or her opinion) and briefly explain WHY. Make sure that your thesis statement includes these three elements too!
The Modes of Discourse—Exposition, Description, Narration, Argumentation (EDNA)—are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these approaches and students’ need to understand and produce them.
Contributors: Jack Baker, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli
Last Edited: 2018-02-09 12:42:48
This resource begins with a general description of essay writing and moves to a discussion of common essay genres students may encounter across the curriculum. The four genres of essays (description, narration, exposition, and argumentation) are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres, also known as the modes of discourse, have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these genres and students’ need to understand and produce these types of essays. We hope these resources will help.
The essay is a commonly assigned form of writing that every student will encounter while in academia. Therefore, it is wise for the student to become capable and comfortable with this type of writing early on in her training.
Essays can be a rewarding and challenging type of writing and are often assigned either to be done in class, which requires previous planning and practice (and a bit of creativity) on the part of the student, or as homework, which likewise demands a certain amount of preparation. Many poorly crafted essays have been produced on account of a lack of preparation and confidence. However, students can avoid the discomfort often associated with essay writing by understanding some common genres.
Before delving into its various genres, let’s begin with a basic definition of the essay.
What is an essay?
Though the word essay has come to be understood as a type of writing in Modern English, its origins provide us with some useful insights. The word comes into the English language through the French influence on Middle English; tracing it back further, we find that the French form of the word comes from the Latin verb exigere, which means "to examine, test, or (literally) to drive out." Through the excavation of this ancient word, we are able to unearth the essence of the academic essay: to encourage students to test or examine their ideas concerning a particular topic.
Essays are shorter pieces of writing that often require the student to hone a number of skills such as close reading, analysis, comparison and contrast, persuasion, conciseness, clarity, and exposition. As is evidenced by this list of attributes, there is much to be gained by the student who strives to succeed at essay writing.
The purpose of an essay is to encourage students to develop ideas and concepts in their writing with the direction of little more than their own thoughts (it may be helpful to view the essay as the converse of a research paper). Therefore, essays are (by nature) concise and require clarity in purpose and direction. This means that there is no room for the student’s thoughts to wander or stray from his or her purpose; the writing must be deliberate and interesting.
This handout should help students become familiar and comfortable with the process of essay composition through the introduction of some common essay genres.
This handout includes a brief introduction to the following genres of essay writing: