​Composing and Editing Guidelines: CP

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1. Context Project Draft

See samples. (Daniel CP Sample.doc is an A-grade sample.)

The CP asks you to do four things:

(1) define and describe a significant political/social/cultural problem;

(2) justify and frame this problem to convince your audience that the problem you’re addressing and the questions you’re asking are alive and relevant right now;

(3) summarize and critically evaluate various conversations and debates made by credible scholars and organizations about your topic; and

(4) describe and decipher the historical contexts of the problem at hand by locating at least 2 pieces of evidence, at least 1 from the past and 1 from the present, that tie the problem as we see it today to its past.

One of the main purposes of this assignment is to expose you and your peers to various topics, arguments, histories, and background knowledge that will enable you engage with each other over the course of the quarter. Another purpose of the CP is to begin the process of teaching you how to locate, evaluate, select, arrange, and integrate sources into a multi-modal composition. As a genre of communication—and in the case of this assignment, one that frames a problem, delivers arguments, uses evidence, and speaks to a broad audience—a multi-modal composition can be a synthesis of various rhetorical positions—visual and written for example—that work together to deepen argumentative positions and claims. Your composition’s multi-modality will come from your use of these two modes together.

You may be asking yourself (and you should ask your teacher), “What is a composition and what does it mean if it’s multi-modal?” In your case, you will locate at least two pieces of evidence, one from the present that helps you define the problem you are exploring and one from the past that deciphers this problem’s historical context. And then you will use credible sources to describe for your readers how these distinct pieces of evidence work together to explain the viability of the contemporary problem.

You will need to ask a number of questions in order to understand how your key pieces of evidence speak to each to each other: How does the “artifact” from the past illustrate the evolution of the problem? What arguments do scholars make about the problem’s past and its present? What are scholars and credible people and organizations debating about the problem and its past? As you explain how and why certain historical changes tie your central pieces of evidence together, you will have to think creatively to arrange your arguments and your evidence, both your key pieces of evidence and scholarly sources, to persuade your audience that the historical foundation you have located is meaningful to our understanding of the problem in the present.

The Word Count: The written component of your final submission should be 1700 words (minimum).

Sources & Citations: At minimum, you should use between 6 and 8 sources.

  • Locate at least 2 significant pieces of evidence, at least one from the past and one from the present, that tie the problem as we see it today to its past.
  • 4-6 scholarly sources, at least 3 of which you should find yourself.
  • Use the MLA system for citing your sources.

Additional Guidance:

What is a “Key Piece of Evidence” for the CP?

-Key Evidence (Present): It can be a table of data, an image or a series of images or an incident. It is something, a primary source for example, that clearly articulates the cultural, political, and social problem that is the focus of your project.

-How do you locate your evidence? Any social, cultural, or political problem that demands the attention of scholars, intellectuals, thinktanks and advocacy organizations will be defined by and grounded in evidence, and these pieces of evidence are what you are trying to find. What sorts of evidence do your scholarly and credible resources use to substantiate their arguments?

-Key Evidence (Past): Like your evidence from the present, your historical artifact(s) can be a compilation of statistics in a table or a graph, an image, an incident, ideas and arguments from primary sources, stories, and various art forms. You can use credible sources to locate your historical “artifacts,” and in selecting them think and write about how the historical evidence speaks to your central problem in the present. Try to describe how your historical pieces reside in the past, summarize how they speak to your contemporary evidence, and explain how the historical dialogue between these two pieces or bodies of evidence connects the present with the past. The historical space between them, which documents historical changes, will enable you to articulate clearly the importance of your central problem in the present.

Reflective Prompts

-What specific aspects of your historical evidence make it historical? Is it far enough back in time to be considered historical? Does it represent significant and meaningful historical changes?

-What are my credible sources saying about my historical evidence?

-How is my historical evidence different from my contemporary evidence? Why are they different? Are they too different to speak to each other to capture historical changes?

-What arguments am I using from my scholarly sources and contemporary research to explain the historical relationship between my two bodies/pieces of evidence?

-What significant historical changes explain the relationship between my sources? What credible sources am I using to support such explanations and summaries of historical change?

NOTE: Please include your abstract, multi-modal elements, and full works cited (with annotations) with your draft.

NOTE: Please check your formatting.

NOTE: Remember to add some Visual evidences, like graphs, images, screenshots, as many as possible.

2. Peer Edits (both marginal and endnotes) (I will give it to you later.)

Editing is yet another genre of writing. It involves stylistic conventions, shared criteria for evaluation, and a common language. For this assignment, you will be responsible for editing one draft: both drafts will receive marginal comments AND a 150-200 word write up. You will be assigned a peer for the draft you will edit.

Marginal Comments: You will make marginal comments, prioritizing the engagement with sources. Use the checklist at the bottom of the page to evaluate source use and synthesis. (put this in the comments box)

Write-up: Paste your 150-200 word write-up into the comments section right-hand hand side of your screen. (put this in the end of the text.)

Before you get started, read through the draft once and then ask yourself: Does this draft examine the concrete effects (can I point to actual species of animal, community of people, and habitats/places?) of a specific problem that this writer locates within an analysis of a specific landmark cases (e.g. the death of Dawn Brancheau), federal/state legislation (e.g. the Canadian parliament banning the captivity of cetaceans), and/or turning points (sudden increase/decrease in the population of orcas in the Pacific northwest)? If the answer is no, then write, “this essay does not follow basic instructions for this project” and consider your work done.

If the answer is ‘yes,’ your first paragraph should explain what are the composition’s two strongest points and where are its two weakest points. Point out in as clear and focused terms as possible exactly where the draft needs attention in its articulation of the problem/historical argument, how it needs to be improved and why. Start with the big problems in your first paragraph and then deal with the synthesis of researched material in your second paragraph.

And remember that there is no point in fixing smaller issues if the whole premise of the composition stands on shaky ground!


I will be grading these peer edits based on both the clarity and specificity of direction you provide for your peers, as well as your insight into the draft’s strengths and flaws. (Do not use generalizing and unhelpful language such as “it flows well” or “I like your ideas” or “you do a good job with the evidence.”Keep in mind that it is crucial that you show evidence for your claims; your peers can be mislead by your suggestions if you do not demonstrate that you know what you are talking about, so always proceed with caution. Your peers are counting on you!)


Please use the following checklist to guide your marginal notations as well as your write-up of the draft (these are just suggestions! you don’t have to answer each question!):


  1. Abstract: Does the draft include a revised single-spaced, concise and focused abstract that provides a clear description of various current effects of the problem and a claim about some key aspect of the problem’s cause?
  2. Framing: Does the composition open with a compelling anecdote or description of a current problem, one that points to or suggests historical underpinnings? Can this anecdote or description be improved? How?
  3. Historical: Is there a convincing and clear synthesis of various scholarly perspectives that examine the relevant and underlying cause or causes of the problem? Can the source synthesis be improved upon? How?
  4. Warrants: Is there a whole section of this essay devoted to explaining clearly the current iteration of the problem? Does it show who, specifically suffers as a result of the existence of this problem, how they suffer, who or what caused the suffering and who benefits from it? Can you think of anything else that might improve this feature of the composition?
  5. Scholarly Debate/Opposition: Is there effective, believable and thoughtful engagement with the central claims of and/or evidence used in the essay? How might you improve this feature of the composition?
  6. Using Sources: Does the essay give clear context of scholarly source material? Is the quoted material relevant and insightful? Does the essay effectively evaluate the source material by offering insight into the topic/problem within that ‘conversation’? How might you improve these features of the composition?


6. Does the essay follow a line of development, beginning with a descriptive and researched account of the problem and moving toward analytical engagement of multiple scholarly perspectives? How might you organize the paper differently?

7. How does this essay conclude? Does it end with new insights, point to advocacy, or is it merely a repetition of what you have already encountered? How can you improve the conclusion to the paper?


8. Does the author effectively make use of epigraphs, footnotes, pull quotes, images, photography, original documents, art, maps, graphs, and/or video? Are these carefully selected, arranged and various? Is the image too melodramatic or ‘obvious’ in its message? Too vague? Does the image advance the power or force of the argument? How?

9. Does each multi-modal element have a caption in MLA formatting explaining what it is?


10. Does the paper contain AT LEAST 4-6 scholarly sources (not counting popular sources), properly documented in MLA formatting both in-text and in a works cited page? (please consult OWL for MLA formatting instructions…or ask!)

11. How is the grammar? You may not know how to fix it, but you can note when a sentence seems off. You might also write, “the grammar seems generally off to me.” If you do notice as much, you are probably right.


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