One of the expectations leveled on high school students is the ability to defend a position in a debate. While defending your position verbally is usually easy, defending it on paper is a bit more difficult. However, with a little thought and preparation, writing a debate paper can be accomplished without a great deal of stress.
Putting Together a Debate Paper
Research your position thoroughly, as you will need to be able to argue your position from more than one point. Take good notes on what you are reading and write down the sources of your information, as you may want to cite them in your paper. Research the main arguments against your position as well.
Write an introduction to your paper. The introduction must tell the reader of your paper what the issue is and why the issue is important in the first place. Most importantly, the introduction must tell the reader what your position on the issue is as well as provide a brief statement stating why you are correct in your position.
Write your body paragraphs. Each reason that you have for your position or each fact that you present needs to have its own body paragraph. When you state your reason or fact in the paragraph, you must be able to cite research to back up that reason. In a debate paper, you cannot discuss emotional arguments.
Draft a rebuttal paragraph or paragraphs if your teacher has included that as part of the requirement for your debate paper. You will need to construct the rebuttal paragraphs much like the body paragraphs you have already written. Choose one or two of the best arguments against your position, and rebut them with the facts that you have researched.
Write a conclusion for your debate paper. Be sure that your conclusion states the issue, your position, why it is important and why your position is the correct position. If you have space to state why the opposing viewpoint is not correct, you can state that in the conclusion as well. In some conclusions, authors discuss the need for further analysis or exploration in an area or discuss a need for more endeavors or citizen involvement in the issues. Again, if you have room or feel that it is necessary, this is the paragraph in which you should state those concerns.
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: The Writing Center: Argument
- National Park Service: The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858
- Purdue Online Writing Lab: Argument Paper: Introductions, Body Paragraphs, and Conclusions for an Argument Paper
- Purdue Online Writing Lab: Argument Paper: Body Paragraphs
- Purdue Online Writing Lab: Argument Paper: Rebuttal Sections
- Purdue Online Writing Lab: Argument Paper: Conclusions
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