War in the Middle East. Stem-cell research. Same-sex marriage. 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 analysis so you can make the best argument. Remember - writing an essay on a controversial issue requires knowledge of all involved sides, all possible arguments, and all possible angles.
- Journalistic viewpoint – Approach this kind task like a journalist would. Educate yourself about 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 analysis and persuasion – 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 consider and include them in your essay and analyses – their voices must be heard as well. That way, you will be able to form more powerful counter-arguments and help your reader understand the issue even more. Plus, in the end, chances are you’ll also be able to educate and enlighten those who have opposing views. In your doing so, your name and work 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.
- 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.”
- Your arguments – Remember that writing unsupported claims will not only mislead the reader about your purpose, but also lessen 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. 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 science is an ever-evolving field, 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.
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 a very good essay on a controversial topic.