Argument Prospectus: Was it the right decision to take Saddam down?
What is a Prospectus?
A prospectus or research proposal is a document that provides an audience with relevant material regarding your proposed researched argument. The prospectus is usually the first step in a major research project; in the real world people use a prospectus to convince a committee, manager, professor, etc. that they have a clear and logical plan of action for their projects.
A prospectus should include three main components: A rationale, an outline, and an annotated list of your research surrounding your topic to that point.
- The rationale should explain to your audience why you chose to research a particular topic. You should indicate the context for the topic, meaning the time frame, audience, location, etc. on which the essay is based. The rationale also shows why the topic is important and significant in regards to its context.
- For this assignment, consider your audience as consisting of all ENG 102 instructors and students in this semester.
- The outline does not mean an “outline” in a traditional sense; instead, this means that you should illustrate your plan for proving your argument. You want to present your opinion (i.e. thesis statement), what research and statistics you will rely on the most, what/who are your oppositions, how you plan to concede or refute those oppositions, and finally what do you plan to achieve with the research project.
- An annotated list of the research you have conducted shows your audience what others have said or not said about the topic. That list will include the bibliographic information for the researched materials with abstracts for each work, helping you to explain how your opinion is adding to the existing conversation surrounding the topic.
What is an Abstract?
Your prospectus relies on outside research, in this case scholarly research. Most academic articles include an abstract in the beginning of the article; these abstracts are used to briefly and powerfully describe a longer work. Stephen Wilhoit defines an abstract as “a special form of an informative summary…usually paragraph-long…informing readers of the text’s primary assertions, findings or argument”(67). Because you will only be proposing a research project you will be writing abstracts for each scholarly and legitimate article you plan to use within your prospectus. The purpose behind the abstracts is to help you comprehend and then integrate scholarly articles and texts because, on surface level, academic texts can be difficult to understand.
Although necessary components may vary according to discipline, abstracts generally contain the same elements. Abstracts should describe the following elements from the article: the authors’ claims and supporting points; the implications of the work; and your rhetorical intent in using the work. In determining these elements, you should be more comfortable and knowledgeable about the articles.
You will write a prospectus as described above. This is a snapshot of the research you have conducted to this point. Good researchers always review many more sources than they actually use. Therefore, your list should contain at least ten sources, at least two of which are from The Engaged Reader, and at least of which six must be scholarly in nature. Begin with your rationale and outline and conclude with your list of sources, under the heading, “Annotated Works Consulted.”
Your rationale and outline should be between 200-300 words. Each abstract should be approximately 50-75 words in length.
Your prospectus will be evaluated according to the following elements:
- A specific, narrowed thesis statement
- A clear outline of your intent, argument and plausible conclusion(s)
- A clear rationale that addresses the context of the topic
- Addresses the audience appropriately
- Correct formatting and MLA
- Effectiveness and accuracy of the summary components
- Includes works that not only address the writer’s position but also opposing viewpoints
- Formal, non-inflammatory language
- Meaningful and interesting vocabulary and verb use
- Few mechanical or grammatical errors
- Literary present tense and grammatical 3rd person
- The required number of works listed
- Stays within the range of the required word count