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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Mrs. Irwin: Writing Your Paper

Purpose of Guide

The purpose of this research guide is to help students with beginning their argumentative papers on themes in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks . This guide will cover the basics of argumentative & informative essays, how to develop and narrow a topic, finding articles and books for the assignment, citation, and how to get help if you get stuck.

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

Bibliographies are lists of sources that were used for researching a topic. Each source listed includes information about the source such as the author(s), title, URL or DOI, etc. You may be familiar with the Works Cited page at the end of your MLA style papers - this is a bibliography. 

An annotated bibliography is a bibliography that includes more information about each source. Typically, this additional information is a summary and an evaluation of the source, but requirements for annotated bibliography assignments will vary by instructor. Annotated bibliographies are common college assignments and are often used to start the research process for future research papers because they help students to organize research, evaluate the resources they plan to use, and ask students to reflect on how useful the sources are in informing the student on a topic and shaping their argument.

Annotated bibliographies are usually cited in-style (MLA, APA, etc.), and will be organized in the standards of that style. Here are some examples of annotated bibliography entries from the OWL at Purdue

Summary of Your Assignments

As you read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, you'll be looking for debatable topics that are either brought up in the book or are related to topics broached by the book. Pick something that you're interested in because then you'll want to do your research.

Then you will need to select 7-10 scholarly/peer-reviewed sources representing the different viewpoints of your topic. You will use these articles to:

  • Construct conversations with peers about your topic
  • Create an annotated bibliography of your readings
  • Write a researched argument essay
    • Argue your viewpoint, supporting your argument (thesis) with what you've learned from your 7-10 scholarly/peer-reviewed sources. Address your opposition by acknowledging, accommodating, and refuting their viewpoint. Use your ethos and logos to lend your argument more credibility. 

      This essay will be written in stages with multiple pre-writing activities. This essay should be between 2000-2500 words.

What is an Argumentative Essay?

One of the most common college assignments is the argumentative essay. An argumentative essay is an essay on a debatable topic where you make a claim and then use reliable evidence and reasoning to back up your claim. Your goal is to persuade your audience to see the validity of your argument and to agree with you.

Essays that are the most successful in arguing their side of the issue have the following:

  • A verifiable claim (your thesis statement)
  • Evidence to support that claim or thesis
  • Explanations of how your evidence supports your claim

Evidence for your Henrietta Lacks assignments will come from your 7-10 peer reviewed sources as well as any additional sources you choose to use (i.e. books, newspaper articles, statistics, educational and documentary videos) and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

For more information, visit the OWL at Purdue or talk to Mrs. Irwin.