How to Write Issue Papers

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Writing issue papers is an essential skill for most students' academic careers. In many states, students are asked to begin composing persuasive pieces as early as kindergarten, and they begin writing issue papers by third grade. Writing essays to express and defend an opinion continues to be an important part of writing curriculum through elementary, middle and high schools. Although older students will write more complex papers, the steps for writing an issue paper are the same for students of all levels.

  • Choose a topic for your issue paper. Your topic should be something in which you are interested and about which you have a strong opinion. However, it must also be a topic that is open to debate; it is impossible to write an issue paper on a subject that is unarguable. For example, you cannot write an issue paper about the history of public transportation system in your city. That would be an informative paper. However, you can write an issue paper arguing that public transportation in your city should be free.

  • State your thesis. Your thesis is one sentence that summarizes the argument you will make in your issue paper. Using the example above, a thesis could be, "Public buses and MARTA trains in Atlanta should be free for all riders."

  • Gather evidence that supports both sides of the argument. Although your issue paper will persuasively argue one side of the argument, it must address both sides of the issue. Research evidence that supports your opinion as well as evidence that supports the opposing opinion, and make notes on evidence and arguments to refute the opposing opinion.

  • Outline your issue paper. In your introduction, summarize the issue and state your thesis argument. For the body of your paper, choose at least three main topics within the issue. Include evidence and arguments in favor of your opinion, and address and refute arguments for the opposing side. Conclude by summarizing the reasons in favor of your opinion and recommending actions readers should take in response to the issue.

  • Write your issue paper, following your outline. Let your passion for the topic come through in your writing, but avoid overly emotional arguments. Let the information persuade your audience.

  • Get feedback on your paper. Ask someone else to read it, preferably someone who holds an opposing opinion on your topic. Ask your reader to point out places where your argument seems faulty or illogical.

  • Revise your paper. Incorporate any questions or advice from your reader in order to make your argument as persuasive as possible.

  • Edit your issue paper for punctuation, grammar and spelling.

  • Write your final draft, incorporating all the changes and improvements you have made to your issue paper.

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