A college level comparative research essay



This assignment is marked out of 100 marks and is worth 20% of your course grade.


Selecting from the following topics and readings, create a research essay of 900 to 1,000 words.


While a research  essay normally involves conducting your own research, for this  assignment, the research sources are provided (i.e., the readings listed  are the research sources to be used).

Include appropriate  elements of the research essay, including summary, paraphrase and  quotation, and integration and documentation of source material.  Parenthetical citation and a works cited page in MLA style are required.

The assignment will be completed in three stages:

  1. Summarizing and note taking
  2. Writing a draft essay
  3. Writing a completed essay

All three of the above will be submitted to your instructor. Although the summaries will not be given a separate mark, they are worth 10% of the grade for the assignment.

Make sure that your  thesis signals both your purpose in comparing the two essays and the  basis for comparison that you have chosen. You may find that the  Discussion Questions that follow each essay are useful in helping you  identify the thesis, main ideas, rhetorical strategies, and supporting  details used in the essays. 

Recall that the PDF on Comparative Analysis gives you guidelines for comparing two articles. 


  1. Compare  and contrast points made about climate change in “Dry Spring: The  Coming Water Crisis of North America” (194) and “The Four Tribes of  Climate Change” (254). Before writing, consider the authors’ positions  as well as the methods used to develop those positions.  Choose  consistent terms of comparison to structure your essay and include a  specific thesis. Terms of comparison may include such elements as the  author’s message, tone, and rhetorical strategies. As an option, your  thesis may give specific reasons why one article is more convincing or  effective than the other.                
  2. Compare  and contrast the points made about ethnicity and nationality identity  in “Going Dutch: Reflections on Nation, Race and Privilege” (212) and  “I’m a Banana and Proud of It” (216). Before writing, consider the  authors’ positions as well as the methods used to develop those  positions.  Choose consistent terms of comparison to structure your  essay and include a specific thesis.  Terms of comparison may include  such elements as the author’s message, tone, and rhetorical strategies.  As an option, your thesis may give specific reasons why one article is  more convincing or effective than the other.     

Criteria for Marking Assignment 3

The following criteria will be used in marking Assignment 3:

  • 80–100%  
    • A clear thesis that signals both the basis for comparison and your purpose for comparing in subtle, sophisticated language
    • Excellent comparative organization
    • Originality and/or sophistication, often expressed via specific examples and complex sentence style and diction
    • Clear signalling of summarizing or paraphrasing
    • Syntactically smooth incorporation of quoted material
    • Subtle understanding and expression of content shown by appropriate linkage of detail compared to main idea
    • No basic grammar or punctuation errors
    • Correct use of MLA-style citation and documentation
  • 70–79%   
    • A  clear thesis that signals both basis of and purpose for comparison,  though perhaps not in as subtle or sophisticated language as above
    • Good comparative organization
    • Good  understanding of content, with evidence of some originality and  sophistication at the top end of the scale, evidenced by appropriate,  though not always sophisticated, linkage of detail to main idea
    • Correct, though not always smoothly incorporated, quotation, paraphrase, and summary
    • Infrequent grammar or punctuation errors
    • Correct use of MLA-style citation and documentation
  • 60–69%  
    • Reasonable  comparative thesis, tending, at the bottom of the scale, to lack a  conceptual edge or to not completely signal the basis of or purpose for  comparison
    • Basic comparative structure, though some lack of balance in use of detail, or blurring of categories
    • Some errors in transitions to or signalling of quotations, paraphrase, or summary
    • Some weakness in use of detail or linking of detail to comparative structure or main idea
    • Some grammatical or punctuation errors, but the essay demonstrates a grasp of the fundamentals of sentence structure
    • Some errors in MLA-style citation or documentation
  • 50–59%  
    • Frequent writing errors, including some structural errors, but the essay remains coherent
    • No real thesis, but the essay hangs together
    • Ineffective use of comparative structure; inability to present main ideas
    • Little use of detail from sources
    • Significant errors in MLA-style citation or documentation
  • Below 50% (Failure)  
    • No thesis
    • Virtually no organization
    • Little, if any, ability to present concepts or even details coherently
    • No use of material from sources or use of MLA-style citation and documentation
    • Grammatical errors impede understanding of the essay

Submitting Assignments

You are expected to  use the Dropbox tool to submit your assignments; your word-processed  assignment and any supporting documents (e.g., drafts, preliminary work)  should be submitted as one or more attachments.

Be sure to include  your name, the instructor’s name, the course code (ENGL 151), and the  date of submission on the first page of your word-processed assignment.

Be sure to keep electronic copies of your work.

See Assignment 3 in the Dropbox for further details on file types and submitting your work.

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