The Fact Paper
In this paper, you will describe a person, object, or event using only empirically verifiable facts. The objective of the paper is to convince your reader to see the person, object, or event in either a positive or negative light while ensuring that your paper remains completely free of any evaluative language. You paper should be 1000 words in length not including endnotes and bibliography.
Choose a person, object, or event that you find interesting and that you can readily research. It is better if you choose a topic about which people already have a strong opinion that differs from your own. For instance, most people like chocolate ice cream, but perhaps you hate chocolate ice cream. If so, chocolate ice cream would make a good topic for this paper. After you choose a topic, begin to compile facts about your topic that will help you to show your topic in either a negative or positive light. To show chocolate ice cream in a negative light, for instance, you might look for a medical study that links chocolate ice cream to mad cow disease, or find evidence that an unpopular person such as Richard Nixon ate chocolate ice cream every day. Likewise, if you find a report concluding that chocolate ice cream cures pancreatic cancer, it may be wise to omit those findings from your paper. Either way, you want to provide only empirically verifiable information about chocolate ice cream. At no point should you disclose to your reader your own opinion of chocolate or any other kind of ice cream. In other words, persuade us to dislike chocolate ice cream merely by providing negative information about it that you have strategically organized to maximize persuasive effect.
1) Your opening paragraph must be a vivid description of the topic of your paper. If your topic is algae and you wish to present algae in a positive light, then you could, for instance, write an engaging description of the life cycle of algae. Keep in mind, though, your opening description must also be free of any evaluative or opinionated language.
2) The introduction of your paper must include a preview of the paper. Your preview should give your reader a sense of the main points you will cover about your topic.
3) The body of your paper should deliver on the promises made in your preview, and each section of the body should begin with a preview of that section. For instance, if you promise in your introduction that the first section of your paper will provide information about deaths that have occurred on rides at Disneyland, then the first section of your paper should provide information about a number of deaths that have occurred on rides at Disneyland. AND, the first sentence of that section should preview which deaths on which rides will be discussed. AND, the first sentence of each paragraph should preview the specific deaths or rides discussed in that paragraph. For instance, the first sentence of your paragraph on the Matterhorn might read like so: No fewer than nine people have died while riding the Matterhorn.
4) Your paper should feature a conclusion that briefly summarizes the paper. Without drawing conclusions or stating your opinion, end the paper in such a way that your reader will be persuaded to adopt your perspective on the topic.
Structuring your paper
Your paper should begin with a detailed description of your object or topic. The opening paragraph should make use of vivid language to convey a “picture” of your topic and establish a positive or negative tone for the paper. After compiling your facts, group them according to theme so that when you write your paper, you can organize the information in a logical manner and avoid jumping from point to point. Even though your paper will consist exclusively of facts, you still want it to flow and make sense. At no point should you draw any conclusions about your topic or use any language that might convey opinion.
Drafts and final paper must be typed, double-spaced with one-inch margins, and stapled. Do not fold the corners of your paper in lieu of a staple. Use 12 pt. font, preferably Times New Roman. Please do not include a title page or my name. Simply include your name, the semester, and the assignment (single-spaced) at the top of the first page. Citations should be formatted in accordance with either MLA or APA guidelines. Those guidelines can be found in The Pocket Wadsworth Handbook and the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL): http://owl.english.purdue.edu/ (Links to an external site.)
When grading your paper, I will be looking for the following:
1) the use of vivid language and an engaging, descriptive opening to your paper;
2) the absence of evaluative words that cannot be empirically verified (Note: if there are more than four such words in your paper, you will lose three points for each additional word);
3) successful organization of your facts according to themes and strategic organization of information for persuasive effect (Hint: strategic use of inference will be generously rewarded);
4) successful presentation of your topic in either a negative or positive light;
5) the use of well-researched, reliable sources (no less than five) that establish credibility; and
6) adherence to the formatting guidelines detailed above, including complete and correct citations for ALL of your facts and sources.