Writing An Essay On A Controversial Issue

War in the Middle East. Stem-cell research. Same-sex marriage. Medical marijuana. These are just a few of many issues still considered controversial today. Writing an essay on a controversial issue may seem easy especially if you are devoted to a particular side. But regardless of how strongly you feel about the side you are on in these controversial topics, your essay must involve facts, information, evidence, statistics, and critical analysis so you can make a strong argument. Remember—writing an essay on a controversial issue requires knowledge of all involved sides, all possible arguments, and all possible angles.

Main considerations

Journalistic viewpoint – Approach this task like a journalist would. Educate yourself about the issue—that means you should be familiar with both sides of the issue. Conduct research and investigate the reliability of your sources of information. Do not be content with second-hand information. You must verify the accuracy and relevance of the facts and statistics that you will include. Also, check if there have been other previously published works discussing the same issue. That way, you’ll be able to ensure the originality of your essay.

Pathos, Ethos, Logos - Writing an essay on a controversial issue requires the effective use of the three essential modes of persuasion and analysis – pathos (appeal to emotion), ethos (credibility), and logos (appeal to logic). All these three qualities should be present in your essay.

Know your readers - Surely, there are readers who agree with your viewpoint, and their take on the issue is important. But how about those who are likely to have opposing or dissimilar views or arguments? You must write for them as well. Letting their voices heard can ease them into listening to your arguments. You might even be able to change their stand on the controversial issue. Furthermore, you can use their arguments to form more powerful counter-arguments and, in the process, you can better educate and enlighten your readers. This is a common technique when writing an argumentative essay. In doing this, your name and work will earn the needed credibility.

The writing part

A solid introduction – Contrary to how other essay forms start, your introduction shouldn’t necessarily be catchy or attention-grabbing. The introduction should reflect the issue’s importance. It should be straightforward and must reflect your intent to discuss and analyze.

Background - You must weigh in on the importance of the issue’s discussion and coverage. For instance, if you are writing about the legalization of same-sex marriage, you must provide current developments in various parts of the world, or the lack of any. It gives unaware people a chance to form their own perspectives on the issue and provides those already familiar a chance to reassess their stance.

controversial issue

Thesis statement – This is your main argument and thus, you need to back this up with evidence, analysis, and logic. This is an example of a good thesis statement: “Possession of marijuana shouldn’t be categorized as a grave offense even in jurisdictions where its legalization is still being deliberated but not yet finalized. That is because scientists in general have already concluded that when used in moderation, it can cure various ailments.” If you need more tips on how to construct an effective thesis statement, read this.

Your arguments – Remember that writing unsupported claims will not only mislead the reader about your purpose, but also lower your credibility. For instance, if you have three arguments and counter-arguments about the issue, you must write them separately in paragraphs, with each argument and counter-argument fully supported by evidence from reputable sources. Now, since evidence makes cases, despite the presence of the counter-arguments, you must ensure that your argument has the greater, better, and more logical evidence. Go through all your arguments and their counter-arguments so as to ensure that there are logical transitions and no loopholes.

Your conclusion – It’s not merely a summary of your argument, it is the ‘clincher.” Your conclusion should provide the validity of your thesis statement and why it is important. This is where you can appeal to the reader to side with your. You may end your conclusion by asking your now educated reader a relevant question or you may simply call on the reader to action.

Your sources – As mentioned earlier, the credibility of your sources should not be questionable. Credible sources give credible evidence. For instance, if you are presenting scientific information, your source should not only be peer-reviewed, but also recognized by duly governing bodies, and accessible to the concerned public. In addition, since both soft and hard sciences are ever-evolving fields, you must consider your sources’ publication date. The same approach applies to other issues. The more recent your credible sources are, the better for your essay.

controversial issue essay outline


Indeed, writing an essay on a controversial issue is trickier than you first anticipated. But it really isn’t so hard after all. With these helpful tips, you will surely equip yourself with the necessary tools to write an argumentative essay on a controversial topic. Now that you are equipped with the know-how about writing on controversial issues, it is time to take a look at today's most debated, controversial issues:

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