Ahhh, I go through this every semester when I get a paper. I gather the necessary information to complete it, then I have a problem narrowing it down, deciding whether to make it an argument paper or an analysis paper and organizing it.
I'm to do a 5 page research paper on the on going stem cell debate for my religion class. I only need 4 sources, but I've always gathered more than I need as a rule of thumb, then as I read through the sources, I start getting rid of the ones I won't use in my paper. Anyway, I originally planned on doing an analysis paper on the subject. I figured I'd do a page with experts stating their opinions on why it's wrong, a page with experts stating why they believe it's right and then a third page with my "analysis of these expert opinions" and top it off with a page long intro and conclusion.
The problem is that I'm not sure how I should go about it. I mean I read somewhere that in an analysis paper, you should have the experts opinions first and then your thoughts on the issues as an aside later on in the paper, but at the same time, I don't just want to have a string of quotes of what the experts think, then have my commentary at the end. Another problem is that as I'm writing down my highlighted quotes, I'm adding my comments on them right then and there so I don't forget what I thought of them later on, and I am VERY BIASED in favor of continuing stem cell research. So now I'm thinking that I should do an argumentative paper instead. But I'm not quite sure how to go about that either. Should I state my general opinion on the issue in my intro, then have quotes from the experts with my comments following right after, then summarize it all in my conclusion? Or go about it in some other manner?
I'm sorry this is so long guys, but since I'm asking you for help, I think I should make absolutely sure you know where I'm having trouble.
Oh and P.S. just to show you how biased I am, here's an excerpt from my notes:
Experts Opinion: "The official positions of conservative religions consider the embryo as a human being. The Southern Baptist Convention opposes human embryo research and calls upon research centers to cease and desist from research which destroys human embryos, the most vulnerable members of the human community. Both the Orthodox Christian and Methodist churches assert that embryo research is a fundamental violation of human life. The Anglican view elevates the moral status of the embryo as sacred, containing the very beginning of each human being. The Catholic Church declares that God bestows personhood and a soul at the moment of conception." (P.129)"
My comment: One should be very skeptical of any religions collective stand on an issue such as stem cell research. Common Christian sayings such as "God does everything for a reason" are used to excuse the afflictions that their oh so benevolent God has cast upon his creations; such as various cancers, spinal trauma, aids and a slew of others, all of which have a chance of being treated or even cured with the use of stem cell research. Likewise, the saying "God helps those who help themselves" can be spat back into the faces of Christians who oppose stem cell research, for God apparently isn't doing much in the way of curing Aids or typhoid. So, if humanity doesn't move forward with stem cell research to "help itself" it is not only contradicting this statement, but failing to follow a fundamental message of Jesus Christ; help thy fellow man.
Tell me what you think. And thanks again.
Sorry, I forgot to ask this as well, if I do choose to write an argumentative paper, should I only include quotes from people who agree with my views, or can I also introduce quotes from those who disagree with them and then state my rebuttal of their comments like this one?
Expert Opinon: "A lot of this stuff never works, and it takes a lot longer than people think. If it does produce an incremental benefit, it might only extend their lives for a few years, says Dresser" (P.140)
My comment: Dresser speaks as though these "few years" aren't worth it to even attempt to find cures through stem cell research. It can be said without a shadow of a doubt, that if Dresser were on the receiving end of a horrible disease, she'd be jumping at the chance to get a cure, regardless of the means by which it was created.
You most definitely have strong opinions about the topic, and I think that's good for writing an argumentative paper. The thing you want to watch is putting in a lot of editorializing with an emotional undercurrent, like "oh so benevolent God." Stick to the facts, and your reasonable conclusions drawn from the facts. Your point will come across much more persuasively if it is based on reason rather than emotion.
To answer your question about argumentative papers, yes, it's good to include the arguments against your thesis and then show how those arguments are flawed. Refuting the opposition's stance strengthens your own.
It sounds like you're off to a good start with your research and ideas!