Overview of Controversy

Here are some helpful reminders and examples.

1. Do NOT focus on the authors (unless they are famous or very credible). You should focus on the argument. That means not putting the author’s name in the sentence unless they are famous or credible, especially not first. Being famous or credible makes people believe the information more so in those cases you might put the person’s name to introduce the information. If they are not one or the other, put the INFORMATION first. What comes first is what is important.

2. You must have sources in each paragraph, except possibly not in the conclusion.

Good example:

Those who support signing the treaty with the aliens, who want the people of Earth to agree to peace, have several reasons for their positive reactions. First, Mendez argues that we should agree to the treaty because we have no way to fight them if we decide to not accept the treaty (3). Since not only do we not have the ability to fight, but we do not desire it (Krezinwizki), supporters believe we should sign the peace treaty.  Another argument is that every thinking being desires peace, so it makes sense for the aliens to desire peace (Barone para. 19). These are the arguments by supporters for accepting a peace treaty.

Possible problem:

This example is strong if Mendez is an important and well-known proponent of signing the peace treaty. If he is not famous, that sentence should read:

One argument by supporters is that we should agree to the treaty because we have no way to fight the aliens if we do not accept the treaty (Mendez 3).

If the person who said we should not fight was someone famous, like President Obama, that would be appropriate. Then it would read:

President Obama argued that we should agree to the treaty because we have no way to fight teh aliens if we do not accept the treaty (3).

Bad example:

Gutierez, Johnsen, Patois, and the anonymous author of “Radical Thoughts Answer Issues”  are against becoming signatories to a Tchulani-Earth treaty vociferously argue that there are substantive reasons. First, dissidents argue in “Radical Thoughts Answer Issues” that humanity does not even understand peace, so we can not agree to peace (4). Even if we understood peace, there are those who argue that we cannot sign the treaty because we are already at peace with the aliens. Gutierez argues that war is a prerequisite to accepting a peace treaty (7). Johnsen goes beyond that and says that since we are not at war, the alien request for a peace treaty indicates a potential problem. One possible issue is raised by Patois who says that if we sign a peace treaty with the Tchulani we may end up at war with other aliens whom we have not yet met (4).


The paragraph should not start with the names of those who are opposed to the peace treaty. First, these authors are not all equally important. Very rarely has an anonymous author ever been famous. Second, this essay is not all about the people who are opposed. Instead the essay should focus on the reasons for the opposition.

Bad example:

As a college student, I do not think that the treaty should be signed. What if I am one of the tenth of the population who must, without any say in the matter, go to study alien technology? How long will I be gone? We have no idea how long this group will be gone. We also do not know why the aliens are choosing college-age students. Do they want us because we are still young enough to learn or do they want us because we are at child-bearing age? We do not know. Also, in general the population seems in favor of sending off people in their late teens and early twenties. Is this because Earthers as a whole feel that we are old enough to take care of ourselves? We certainly will not be able to care for ourselves on an alien spaceship or an alien world. Would people support sending young children? No, they would not. What is the difference?


This paragraph is wholly the opinions of the author. There usually should not be any use of I or we in the paper. This is supposed to be a balanced and even-handed paper. Unless you can make an equally cogent argument on both sides of the issue, you should not make one yourself. This is a research paper. It is supposed to focus on the research about what others have to say on the topic.

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