24 Supporting Your Thesis

Drafting the Body: Supporting Your Thesis

The bulk of your research findings will surface in the body sections of your essay. If you think of a research argument in terms of the outline you completed in the last learning module, most students will typically have three to five sections that directly engage with the subject matter while supporting the author’s particular view on the subject.

For example, a research argument advocating for enacting some of the changes needed to address the water shortage in California might include the following subdivisions:

  • Subdivision I: Outline of the history of the problem in California, including measures taken after prolonged droughts crippled various industries and communities in the 1950s and 1980s.
  • Subdivision II: Assessment of the current state of affairs, including an explanation of population trends, agricultural needs, and prominent water sources.Subdivision III: Discussion of some of the potential approaches to addressing the water shortage, including desalinization of ocean water, changes in infrastructure in the storage and distribution of rainwater, and changes in lifestyle (xeriscaping, at-home conservation, rationing).
  • Subdivision IV: Discussion of the necessity for raising awareness of the effects of the water shortage on some communities in California and the importance of educating the population about measures that can be taken to ensure the fair use of an important natural resource. (1)

The subdivisions outlined here serve only as an example, but the problem in California is extremely serious. Consider this passage, written by Dr. Kiki Sanford in her article “Which water technology will save California from its long, dry death?”:

Water is complicated—especially in the West.

For years, willful ignorance has prevailed. Infrastructure projects allowed water to flow in places it would not otherwise be found. Seemingly plentiful supplies allowed agriculture to flourish. California raced to become a top producer of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and wine. Water gushed from the taps, kept cheap by the sheer political willpower invested in sustaining a blissful mirage of water abundance.

Sure, we’ve experienced water hardship in the past. A 1976-77 drought in California popularized a proverb that gets stuck on repeat in my head, like an annoying earworm: “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down.”

A drought in the late 1980’s solidified water conservation habits for many in the state.

Over time, though, we forgot these difficulties, because it’s easier to exist in the belief that our water will always be there when we need it. So when history repeated itself, the California of 2014 was surprised to find serious water problem on its hands.

Suddenly, it was gone. Wells went dry. People began stealing water. Extreme drought conditions, dwindling water reserves, and shrinking aquifers all influenced the decision from California’s Governor Brown to further limit water use by everyone. (38)

There is an abundance of persuasive, credible research on this important topic that is readily available, and much of that good data would be featured in the body of a research argument. Changes—some of them uncomfortable—will need to be made in many regions as drought and water shortages continue in the American West. An essay enumerating what these changes might look like would certainly fit the bill for a solid research argument. (1)

Incorporating Your Research

As we noted earlier in the course, each of your resources must be “positioned” in your work in order to illustrate proper attribution. For this course and the research argument that you are composing, you must identify the author or organization for each of your ten resources the first time you introduce them in your essay. After you have introduced them, you can simply use parenthetical citations in accordance with the Modern Language Association (MLA) style that was discussed in the previous chapter.

To develop a better feel for how resources should be featured in your work, please carefully read Kyle D. Stedman’s short essay “Annoying Ways People Use Resources” before beginning your own research argument for this course.


Select this article, “Annoying Ways People Use Sources” (39) , to download.


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