Policing in America

Choose from one of the following topics to write a 7-8 page argumentative research essay in which you summarize and analyze a problem in the first part of your essay, and argue for specific solutions in the second part of your essay.


Topics (choose 1):

·      Power and bias in the justice system

·      Policing in America

·      The war on drugs

·      Racial bias in the criminal justice system

·      The parole system

·      Collateral damage of the incarcerated such as families and/or communities

·      The psychological impact of racial discrimination on an individual, community, or city


Steps to completing the assignment:


·      Step One: Develop a research question—Before you can start conducting research for your essay you must figure out what you want to learn. Your task is to write a problem-solution essay. In most cases, the topics above are very broad and you need to focus on a narrower aspect of the problem to make the essay assignment more manageable. Brainstorm how you would like to focus the essay first. Then develop a research question that you seek to find the answer to in your research. The answer to your research question can become your thesis statement.

·      Step Two: Conduct some preliminary research on the library databases—Preliminary research can help you test out your research focus and identify key words that work well for your topic. The goal of the research is to identify if your research question needs revising because you are either finding too much information, indicating your question it too broad, or too little information, indicating your question is not broad enough. Please note that you want to play around with using a variety of key word searches before concluding that the problem is your question. Remember that the databases only search for files with your key terms in them, so if you are not using the terms used in the field, then you will have a difficult time finding sources.

·      Step Three: Draft your research prospectus—The prospectus is your research plan. Drafting a prospectus can help you plan your research to steamline and focus your efforts. Please follow the guidelines for this assignment in the Resources list online.

·      Step Four: Prepare your annotated bibliographyThe annotated bibliography should be part of your research process. As you are completing your research and deciding on the sources you want to use in your essay, jot down the notes you need to draft your bibliography: a brief summary of the main ideas, an evaluation of the source, the source’s connection to other sources you plan to use, and a brief description of how you think you can use it in your essay. (Please see the annotated bibiliography materials available in the course resources for more information on this component.)

·      Step Five: Outline and pre-write—Pre-writing is very important for longer resources. Take some time to map out your ideas in an outline and then brainstorm points you want to make in each section. This will help keep you focused while you are drafting.

·      Step Six: First Draft—Try to get a complete first draft out without fussing with your phrasing. If you know that you want to go back to a section of the essay because you couldn’t think of how to write about that section, then highlight it and move on. If you realize as you are writing that you may need to do

·      Step Seven: Feedback, revision, and proofreading



·      A clear summary and analysis of the problem

·      A clear argument for a solution or solutions

·      Direct quotes from your sources to support your ideas

·      Sources should be synthesized clearly

·      Analysis of quotes should reflect strong critical thinking skills

·      7-8 pages in length

·      6-7 sources and an annotated bibliography, at least two of your sources must come from an academic journal.  The remaining sources must be reliable, but don’t have to be from an academic press.

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