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English 120 Sewage water from Tijuana affecting

English 120 — Research Paper 2: N.I.M.B.Y.


Responsibly sharing information with others asks a lot of us. It often asks us to refrain from speaking when we would rather speak. It asks us to see what we know and own what we don’t know. It asks us to put the time in. It asks us to understand first. Research papers engage us in the practice of these asks. The purpose of this assignment is to further develop a skill set that enables you to acquire credible information and share that information responsibly in a situation where you may initially know little about the issue at hand. Our current moment prizes the quick retort and leaves us to inhabit the consequences. A research paper prepares you to be a better participant in the world.


This assignment will allow you to demonstrate the skills we have been practicing since the start of the semester. Previous assignments have asked you to

  • use attributive tags to introduce sources and integrate source material into your writing and distinguish your writing and thinking from the writing and thinking of others;
  • distinguish between direct quotes, paraphrase, and summary and determine which is most appropriate for certain research situations;
  • use an MLA Style guide to assist you in formatting Works Cited page entries and in-text citations;
  • distinguish between credible and not credible sources and accurate and inaccurate information using cross referencing and other strategies; and
  • organize information from a variety of sources into a coherent structure that clarifies ideas and facilitates understanding.


At the conclusion of this assignment you will better understand how to

  • responsibly consume information, in future classes and the wider media;
  • responsibly distribute information, in academic papers and tweets alike;
  • assess and demonstrate your own credibility; and
  • understand the value of using credible sources and accurate information when exchanging knowledge in any environment.


Your assignment is to write a five-page research paper on an environmental issue that exists in a region of San Diego County. An issue is defined as a topic of concern and controversy. Most topics dealing with environmental degradation are of concern and controversy.

Choose only one issue and own it. The issue should be unresolved. In other words, it should be an ongoing environmental issue in the county. 

You will be informing your audience about this issue and taking a position. Your objective is to inform your audience and convince them. Your audience is comprised of people living in San Diego County but unfamiliar with your issue. 

Your paper needs to be double-spaced and MLA formatted. Develop your paper with a minimum of eight sourcesthree of which will be primary sources. You will need to include a works cited page for this paper and cite your sources using parenthetical citations.


While there are different strategies for approaching this work, you might consider following these steps.

  1. Choose a topic and confirm (with me) that it meets the assignment criteria.
  2. Reflect on the research tools you have become familiar with and consider which might produce the most credible results for your topic. 
  3. Conduct an initial round of exploratory research to develop a better understanding of your topic and the effectiveness of the research tools you employed (much as we did in the Research Response assignments).
  4. Based on your initial effort, consider whether you need to refine or narrow your topic. If your research tools are not producing enough credible results, consider adding additional research tools and consulting with a librarian or myself.
  5. Conduct another round of research until you have more than the minimum number of credible sources required for the assignment.
  6. Review your sources for credibility and discard any that may not be sufficiently credible or that are noticeably less credible than your other sources. Create a works cited page for the remaining sources. (You can always delete any you don’t end up using.) This will help you create accurate in-text citations as you draft your paper.
  7. Consider using a prewriting technique to prepare for drafting your paper. I like to draft my thesis, then ask “Why do I think so?” Three or so answers to that question give me reasons around which I can organize the body of my paper.
  8. Write a first draft that is at least 2 – 3 pages in length and incorporates at least four sources. Submit this to the draft workshop for review. Review the work of others.
  9. Write a final draft of at least five pages using the feedback you receive and any additional research you conduct (if any). This draft should incorporate at least eight sources and parenthetical citations as needed.

Include your works cited page. Submit this to the final draft workshop. Review the work of others.

  1. Conduct a final round of editing and revising based on the feedback you receive and using any additional research you conduct (if any). Submit this revision for a grade.

Criteria for Success

The second Research Paper represents a culmination of the work we have completed thus far in the course, and the final product will demonstrate all of the course outcomes.

The final submission is worth 100 points, which is 10 percent of your overall grade.

The exceptional paper distinguishes itself from an adequate paper chiefly in consistency and effectiveness, establishing the writer’s own credibility on the issue alongside the credibility of the sources the writer has chosen to include. Consistency appears in the regular use of research writing strategies, such as attribution and context building, and effectiveness is demonstrated in the contributions these efforts make to providing clarity for and developing understanding in the paper’s audience.

Please review the rubric associated with this assignment, as well as the annotated student examples. These materials can be found as part of this week’s module.  

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