Proposal: From Inquiry to Argument

Now that you have listened carefully to the conversation about climate change, it is time to add your voice to it. This assignment asks you to choose and refine a relevant question-at-issue, investigate it and its context further, and propose an argument that responds to it. You will present your current understanding of the issue and your plans for investigating it in the form of a proposal.

Purpose: To reflect on what you know now about your question as well as how you plan to gather more information in the service of an argument, and then to communicate that to your instructor.

Audience: Yourself and your instructor. By writing this, you can evaluate and revise your knowledge, understanding, and opinions about the issue as you investigate it further. You will also want to communicate to your instructor that you are using critical thinking and reading skills as you investigate and that you have come to your central claim about the issue thoughtfully.

Requirements: Write thorough paragraphsthat answer each prompt, giving specific examples and well-developed analysis as support.  (Some questions will obviously require shorter answers.)

Proposal Prompts:

1. What question-at-issue will you begin with? Why are you interested in researching this question? What is its significance?

2. What have you found out about the context of this issue? In other words:

    1. What people and groups are interested in or affected by this issue? 
    2. What kinds of publications are addressing this issue?
    3. Which academic disciplines are researching this issue?

3. What is your position on this question-at-issue at the beginning of your inquiry? Form this position into a tentative thesis statement that is specific and interpretive (i.e., it argues for a cause-and-effect relationship, as opposed to merely describing a situation).

4. What has your research revealed so far that might support an argument shaped by the tentative thesis statement above? Summarize the various arguments both for and against that you have discovered during your research so far, focusing on supporting your claim. (Be sure to cite sources here.) 

5. Why does this argument need to be written?  What will it contribute to the conversation? Who particularly needs to hear this argument?  Why them?

6. Describe the gaps or unanswered questions in your research so far and describe how you might address them with further research.

7. What questions do you have right now about the issue, further research, and/or the upcoming argument?


Citations: Use MLA in-text documentation and works cited. 

Format: Use the prompts as subheadings in bold type. Single-space the document.

Worth: 5% of semester grade or 50 points.

Due: At your scheduled proposal conference.


Proposal Evaluation Rubric

Excellent  (5)

Satisfactory (4)

Unsatisfactory (3)

Missing  (0)


The proposal focuses on a question-at-issue that is debatable, narrow, specific and relevant.  All responses relate to defining and answering the question-at-issue.

The proposal maintains focus on the question-at-issue, but that question needs refinement, OR the question is appropriately focused, yet the proposal does not maintain its focus.

The proposal focuses on a general topic, and may not maintain its focus.  Before this project can go forward, more work needs to be done on the question-at-issue.

The proposal has no focus.



The responses to the prompts contain enough information for readers to understand the issue and its context, your plans for arguing your claim, and the help you need at this point.  Your research process is clear.  Readers will feel confident you have become well informed.

Because responses to the prompts are general, the reader is left with what, how and/or why questions,  OR readers may question whether you have done enough research on your issue. 

The responses do not provide enough information or explanation for a reader to understand the issue, your process, and/or your plans for arguing the issue.  You may need to do more research to know enough about the issue to make an argument about it.

There is no response to the majority of prompts.


Conventions & Style:

The proposal is easy to read and understand because it the writing is clear and carefully edited.  MLA documentation is used correctly. 

The proposal would be more reader-friendly if you had taken more care with editing, clarity, and/or MLA documentation.

The proposal is difficult to read and understand because of problems with language, punctuation, and/or documentation.

Format is not followed.  Works cited or in-text citation is missing.


Total = _____/50