COMM 100W – Writing for Influence: Effects of Smoking Cigarettes


The Fact Paper

In this paper, you will describe a person, object, or event using only verifiable facts, making sure to eliminate ALL words that are subjective. Subjective words are words that derive their (different) meanings, based on the experience of the perceiver. In other words, these have different definitions depending on each person you ask; e.g., honor, big, skinny, lots, delicious, bright, challenging, etc., are all subjective words. In contrast to saying, “My mother is short,” (which is subjective), you could say, “My mother is five feet tall.” As you can imagine then, you paper will make extensive use of citations, since you’ll need to cite every fact in your paper that is not “common knowledge.”

The objective of the paper is to convince your reader to see the person, object, or event in either a positive or negative light while ensuring that your paper remains completely free of any subjective language. You paper should be at least 4 – 5 buzzwords in length.


Choose a person, object, or event that you find interesting and that you can readily research. It is better if you choose a topic about which many people already have a strong opinion (that differs from your own). For instance, many people like chocolate ice cream, but perhaps you hate chocolate ice cream. If so, chocolate ice cream would make a good topic for this paper.

After you choose a topic, begin to compile facts about your topic that will help you to show your topic in either a negative or positive light. To show chocolate ice cream in a negative light, for instance, you might look for a medical study that links chocolate ice cream to mad cow disease, or find evidence that an unpopular person such as Richard Nixon ate chocolate ice cream every day. Likewise, if you find a report concluding that chocolate ice cream cures pancreatic cancer, it may be wise to omit those findings from your paper. Either way, you want to provide only verifiable (factual) information about chocolate ice cream. At no point should you disclose to your reader your own opinion of chocolate ice cream, as this would constitute OPINION (subjectivity), and NOT FACT. In other words, persuade us to dislike chocolate ice cream merely by providing negative information about it that you have strategically organized (remember arrangement) to maximize persuasive effect.

** Remember, in addition to the instructions stated supra, you may not include VALUE language of any kind; e.g., language that suggests your opinion, or is defined in relative (subjective) terms.

Other requirements:

1) Your opening sentence, since it cannot be an opinion sentence, must be either: (1) A quote of someone else’s opinion (in this case, subjective language is OK, because, since you are quoting it, it becomes verifiable (factual); or (2) (a vivid, powerful description of the topic of your paper in neutral objective terms (this vivid description substitutes for the OPINION sentence under the O-T-R model of writing). If your topic is algae and you wish to present algae in a positive light, then you could, for instance, write an engaging description of algae, or include a quote on algae that includes someone’s else’s opinion. Keep in mind, though, your opening description must also be free of any evaluative or opinionated language.

2) The introduction of your paper must include a preview of the paper. Your preview should give your reader a sense of the main points you will cover about your topic (remember buzzwords).

3) The body of your paper should deliver on the promises made in your preview, and each section of the body should begin with a preview of that section (think major transition sentences). For instance, if you promise in your introduction that the first section of your paper will provide information about deaths that have occurred on rides at Disneyland, then the first section of your paper should provide information about a number of deaths that have occurred on rides at Disneyland. AND, the first sentence of that section should preview which deaths on which rides will be discussed. AND, the first sentence of each paragraph should preview the specific deaths or rides discussed in that paragraph. For instance, the first sentence of your paragraph on the Matterhorn might read like so: No fewer than nine people have died while riding the Matterhorn.

4) Your paper should feature a conclusion that follows the 3-part conclusion format discussed in class. Without drawing conclusions or stating your opinion, end the paper in such a way that your reader will be persuaded to adopt your perspective on the topic. (Link to vivid description, demonstrates connection of buzzword concepts, and relationship of topic to reader’s interest. All of these 3 components, however, must be accomplished using nothing but FACTS alone).

Peer Reviews

This assignment also provides for the possibility of an extra credit peer review. The same instructions apply as last time, inasmuch as you will put your fact paper in both the rough draft drop box, as well as in a drop box particularly designed for peer reviews. If you place your paper in the peer review participation drop box, YOU ARE AGREEING TO PROVIDE YOUR PARTNER WITH A PEER REVEW. If you fail to conduct that review (notwithstanding that you signed up for it), you will be prevented from participating in all future extra credit opportunities. Please see the Word document (peer review instructions) that we used for the spelunkers, and apply the same principles to the fact paper. Please note, there are a different set of peer review questions for the fact paper than there were for the spelunkers essay.

Formatting requirements

Full APA requirements.


When grading your paper, I will be looking for the following:

1) All the tools graded in The Case of the Spelunkers (arrangement, Topic/Audience/Purpose consideration;

2) The absence of evaluative words that cannot be empirically verified (Note: if there are more than five such words in your paper, you will lose two points for each additional word);

3) Successful arrangement of your facts according to themes and strategic organization of information for persuasive effect (think photo essay—what story is my arrangement telling);

4) Successful presentation of your topic in either a negative or positive light;

5) The use of well-researched, peer reviewed sources (no less than five) from SJSU King Library’s Electronic Databases, that establish credibility; and

6) Adherence to the formatting guidelines detailed above, including complete and correct citations for ALL of your facts and sources.

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