Research Paper

Choose one of the following area for the topic of your research paper. Next, identify issues.
Then formulate a research question to guide your investigation. You will need to locate
information, use logical reasoning to analyze the information, and finally use your own values
and judgment to reach a position that will allow you to formulate a strong working thesis.
Below are some very general areas; all of them need to be narrowed to a specific focus. On the
next page and continued on pages 3-5 are examples of using research questions to narrow a
broad topic and to focus on a specific issue on which it is possible to formulate a thesis.
— TOPIC AREAS —
1. Body (health or athletics): Does a vegan diet help or hinder a person’s health or athletic
ability? What evidence supports the views of people who advocate veganism as a healthier
lifestyle?
2. Environment: Does raising animals for food harm the environment? How much and why?
3. Ethics (philosophy): What is the history of philosophers questioning human use of animals?
4. Spirituality/religion: What causes some people in various religions to reject all use of
animals, and how effective are they in convincing others to adopt their views?
5. Publicity: What methods have organizations used to change the attitude of the public
toward the use of animals? Which methods are successful and which are unsuccessful, and
why?
6. Commerce: What businesses have sprung up to capitalize on the demand for products that
do not use animal ingredients, such as food (including restaurants), clothing, or other
products?
7. Medicine and medical education: What activists groups and movements have evolved to
change the policy of using animals for research and other medical uses? How effective are
their methods?
8. Law: What progress in animal rights or welfare has been made using legal methods? What
are the most effective methods and which are the least effective?
9. Individual activists: Who are some of the most effective people who have engaged in
activism to gain better treatment of animals? Which ones have been most effective, and
why?
10. Movements within ethnic communities: Why do some people within a specific ethnicity
fight for animal rights as an extension of their own identity or culture? How effective are
they?
Research Paper Requirements
The following requirements apply to all topic options. The paper must be 2,500-3000 words
in length and must meet all the other requirements detailed below. It must follow MLA in-text
documentation and include a works cited list. For help, see the instruction sheet called “The
Process of Producing a Research Paper.” Also be sure to download and print out the “Research
Paper Checklist.” The purpose of the checklist is to help you meet the key requirements for this
assignment.
Research question and thesis. Formulate a narrowly focused research question for any option
you choose. Your thesis should be a well-composed sentence that directly answers your
research question. Your thesis will state your main claim and express an informed, reasoned
judgment.
Required number and types of sources. In addition to the articles by Cartmill, Regan, Cohen,
and Singer, your Works Cited list must include at least three books and three Internet sources
(for a total of ten). Your goal is to write a paper with eight to ten sources. Ten is usually about
right for a paper of this length, but no matter how many sources you have, the key to success is
to use each source in an effective way. Your list of Works Cited must include two or more
sources from each of the following three categories:
• the articles by Cartmill, Regan, Cohen, Singer, Foer, Frazer, and/or Walker;
• the books by Masson, Wise, and/or Foer (or any of the books on reserve)
• other sources, including both print and online sources.
Grading standards. The grade for this paper will be based on the following: (1) how well you
fulfill the promises made by your thesis statement; (2) how well you integrate clear, purposeful
summaries, paraphrases, and limited, selective quotations into your argument; (3) how well you
synthesize and contextualize your sources to frame your argument; (4) how well you appeal to
ethos, pathos, and logos in your argument; and (5) how effectively you draft, revise, and edit
your paper, including its overall organization, paragraph development, sentence structure, and
word choice.
Examples of Narrowed Topics Using Research Questions to Find a Specific Focus
SUGGESTED EXAMPLE 1
Research Question: How effective are the methods of persuasion used by authors who hold
strong views for or against animal rights? For example, you could begin with the argument
made by Masson in The Pig Who Sang to the Moon, and then build your analysis by contrasting
his methods with those of other authors. Or, instead of Masson, you could begin with Wise,
Patterson, or Tuttle. Or you could choose an author of one of the books on reserve in the
library, such as Adams, Marquardt, Linzey, Scully, or Spiegel. If you choose this topic area, you
would need to judge carefully which authors are the most logically appropriate to synthesize
and integrate into your argument. For example, if you use Adams, you would want to bring in
the arguments of Alice Walker and Marjorie Spiegel, as well as key points in Patterson. But you
would want to challenge their views with authors who strongly disagree with them.
INFORM: Present examples of the author’s means of persuasion and those of others who agree
or disagree with him or her. Include references to appropriate books in the library and to online
sources.
REASON: Starting with your synthesis of Regan, Cohen, and Singer, use the critical thinking
methods we have studied to assess the effectiveness of the arguments you decide to focus on.
Make careful distinctions between methods that are similar in some ways but have important
differences.
JUDGE: Use your judgment, which includes your values and experiences, to shape your views
as expressed in your thesis and conclusion.
SUGGESTED EXAMPLE 2
Research Question: How effective are the methods of persuasion used by organizations who
hold strong views for or against animal rights? You can find such organizations in the list of 1A
Web Links or the list of 1A Topics for Thought. PeTA is a prime example, but there are many
other organizations with different approaches. Sanctuaries for rescued farmed animals make a
good topic. Or web sites such as VegaTopia, SoulVegFolk, SistahVegan, Vegan Hip Hop
Movement, Humane Farming Association, or Vegan Anarchism (veganarchism). Go to 1A
Web Links or 1A Topics for Thought, or in some cases, to a subpage.
INFORM: Present examples of the means of persuasion and evaluate them using arguments of
authors who would agree or disagree. Integrate information from appropriate books in the
library and from other Internet sources.
REASON: Starting with your synthesis of Regan, Cohen, and Singer, use the critical thinking
methods we have studied to assess the effectiveness of the organization or web site you have
chosen. Make careful distinctions between methods that are similar in some ways but have
important differences.
JUDGE: Use your judgment, which includes your values and experiences, to shape your views
as expressed in your thesis and conclusion.
SUGGESTED EXAMPLE 3
Research Question: Find an idea that you strongly agree with or disagree with in Masson,
Wise, Patterson, or Tuttle. Why does this idea deserve our attention? Why do you support or
reject it?
INFORM: Present the arguments of other authors and important thinkers who agree or disagree
with the author of your choice, bringing in appropriate lines of reasoning and evidence.
REASON: Use critical thinking methods to argue in support of positions you agree with and
against those you disagree with. Bring in the views of other authors, such as Regan, Cohen, and
Singer.
JUDGE: Use your judgment, which includes your values and experiences, to shape your views
as expressed in your thesis and conclusion.
SUGGESTED EXAMPLE 4
Research Question: What causes certain people to become an ethical vegetarian or vegan, and
in what ways are their decisions wise or unwise? What similarities and differences can you
discover?
INFORM: Present details about the decisions made by people who have become vegans, which
might include famous people like Cesar Chavez, Ghandi, Dick Gregory, and Albert Schweitzer,
as well as people who are not famous but are known to you. Choose thoughtfully and organize
purposefully.
REASON: Starting with your synthesis of Regan, Cohen, and Singer, use the critical thinking
methods we have studied to evaluate key decisions and trace the causes behind them.
JUDGE: Use your judgment, which includes your values and experiences, to shape your views
as expressed in your thesis and conclusion.
SUGGESTED EXAMPLE 5
Research Question: Pick an important person in animal rights or animal welfare. What are his
or her contributions to an issue, the reasons for his or her importance, and what good or harm
has he or she has produced?
INFORM:

Present details about the person you pick. Some suggestions: Henry Spira, Dick
Gregory, Temple Grandin, Gary Francione, Amy Hatkoff, Marc Bekoff, Melanie Joy, Rory
Freedman.
REASON: Starting with your synthesis of Cartmill, Regan, and Masson, apply the critical
thinking methods we have studied to evaluate the decisions and trace the causes behind them.
JUDGE: Use your judgment, which includes your values and experiences, to shape your views
as expressed in your thesis and conclusion.
SUGGESTED EXAMPLE 6
Research Question: Why are the views expressed in Patterson’s Eternal Treblinka and Marjorie
Spiegel’s The Dreaded Comparison (on reserve in the Rosenberg Library) so controversial, and are
the objections raised valid or invalid? Begin with the controversies about the PeTA campaigns.
INFORM: Research the views expressed by people who have reviewed either one or both of
these books, compare and contrast them. Research online:
“Metacrawler”(www.metacrawler.com) is a search engine that searches all the other search
engines; it would be your best choice for this topic.
REASON: What causes you to agree or disagree with some or all of the points made by the
critics? Use critical thinking methods to assess the importance and significance of these ideas.
JUDGE: Use your judgment, which includes your values and experiences, to shape your views
as expressed in your thesis and conclusion.
SUGGESTED EXAMPLE 7
Research Question: What are the origins and the evolution of the philosophical ideas or
religious beliefs that underlie the views of Masson in The Pig Who Sang to the Moon, the views of
Patterson in Eternal Treblinka, or the views of Tuttle in The World Peace Diet?
INFORM: Present information on the philosophical ideas or religious beliefs relevant to these
books. You should focus exclusively on philosophy or on religion; doing both would be require
a much longer paper.
REASON: Use critical thinking methods to assess the importance and significance of these
ideas. You may argue your own position for or against any or all of these ideas, or you may
restrict your focus to the chain of causes and effects behind these ideas and beliefs. However,
you should bring in the views of Regan, Cohen, and Singer.
JUDGE: Use your judgment, which includes your values and experiences, to shape your views
as expressed in your thesis and conclusion.
SUGGESTED EXAMPLE 8
Research Question: How do views on animal rights appear in popular culture? What attitudes
and arguments seem valid, invalid, meaningful, or absurd? Why? Trace the causes and effects.
INFORM: Present information about how conflicts over animal rights appear popular culture.
REASON: Use critical thinking methods to assess the importance and significance of these
ideas. You may argue your own position for or against any or all of these ideas. However, you
should bring in the views of Regan, Cohen, and Singer.
JUDGE: Use your judgment, which includes your values and experiences, to shape your views
as expressed in your thesis and conclusion.
SUGGESTED EXAMPLE 9
Research Question: What businesses cater to people who avoid all animal products? Use a
search engine to find products or services that are specifically targeted to reach such people. Or
visit the web site for VegNews (www.vegnews.com). What is the significance of these
businesses?
INFORM: Present information on commercial activities aimed at people who avoid animal
products, covering the types of products or services they offer and how they have been able to
create successful business. You may want to focus exclusively on just one area, such as
restaurants that serve only vegan or vegetarian food.
REASON: Use critical thinking methods to assess the importance and significance of these
ideas. You may argue your own position for or against any or all of these ideas. However, you
should bring in the views of Regan, Cohen, and Singer.
JUDGE: Use your judgment, which includes your values and experiences, to shape your views
as expressed in your thesis
SUGGESTED EXAMPLE 10
Research Question: What validity and use do you find in “carnism,” Melanie Joy’s neologism?
Does it contain a socially useful insight that our culture could benefit from if it became widely
used, or is it a term limited only to her views and the views of a small number of people who
agree with her views? (NOTE: This topic is similar to Suggested Example 3, which asks you do
argue pro or con about an idea from Masson, Wise, Patterson, or Tuttle; the difference is that
this idea comes from Melanie Joy’s book and is discussed by other authors.)
INFORM: Present information on this neologism and its origins, being sure to contextualize it
and the author Melanie Joy. Begin by clicking on “Carnism” on the 1A Topics for Thought page
on the web site.
REASON: Use critical thinking methods to assess the information you present. Bring in
relevant points by the author’s we have read in this course. An important “conversation” (pro
and con arguments) can be found in the link to Wikipedia debate, where Joy’s neologism was
rejected (judged that it should be deleted from Wikipedia).
JUDGE: Use your judgment, which includes your values and experiences, to shapeyour views
as expressed in your thesis and conclusion.

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