Development Strategies

Expanding Discussion of Sources Used
Opposing View
More Examples or Case Studies

There are countless ways to revise a research paper. Some of us, mistakenly see revision as a cosmetic opportunity – only cleaning up errors in spelling, grammar, or punctuation. ENGL 121 should have planted the seed that revision is so much more. Revision involves a “re-seeing.” As time goes by, and we may only be talking hours here, you are different and so is your paper. Time alone can make you see your writing differently and persuade you that there are ways to make your paper better, more effective, more fluent, more convincing, or more powerful. Time then, becomes a key factor in revision–a factor that seems at times like a luxury with our hours dedicated to so many pursuits, e.g. jobs, other classes, childrearing, etc. But that is why class time becomes so essential and can’t be duplicated. In class is where much revision takes place as ideas get exchanged, writing is shared, and instruction enables writers to ask questions, reflect, and let expressions emerge with exactness that otherwise may lay buried or lack enough precision to risk putting to paper.

However, while you are sitting at home wondering how to revise a first or second draft of a paper, some out-of-class strategies are important. Focus (see Establishing a Thesis) and organization (see Paragraphing) are crucial, and the “diamonds” your instructor has given you in the form of feedback are invaluable to your “next moves.” Once again, this web site can’t stress enough the importance of letting the Writing Center become a “natural” part of your writing process. This web page will be dedicated to development–ways of extending, expanding, and amplifying writing, as that is the skill that most of us find ourselves challenged to face during the research writing process.

You have to develop your paper; well, just write MORE. For some this comes easy, but for others, “more” becomes frightening (“There’s no way I can add more to this.), frustrating (“I’ve said all I want to say.”), or seemingly impossible (“I have no time to add more”). But “more” is what ENGL 122 is helping you practice in your writing. Enhancing your paper with extended thoughts, fully developed ideas, and expanded support are ways for you to experience essential skills that the course is challenging you to master.

Picture a juggler who juggles two balls while on stage. This may be entertaining for about ten seconds. The juggler may be showing timing, precision, focus, and an organized pattern of sequence and arc, but hey, anyone can juggle two balls. When she picks up a third or adds a sword or even a telephone book to the juggling act, now that’s impressive! So “more” usually is better. It demonstrates a research writer’s capacity to “juggle” more, to prove that the one convincing way he argued something was not a “fluke,” and that she can indeed express ideas in different ways and provide more insights and clarification.

For most writers HOW do I write more is the problem. Below are some specific strategies to take.


While your paper is required to be argumentative, not just informational, information is essential to the impact of your paper. Without it, readers are usually left in the dark as to your meaning and can’t appreciate your intentions. Background comes in many forms and depends on your topic, on what you are trying to accomplish in the paper, and on what kind of effect you want to have in your paper. Background can consist of definitions of key terms, data, historical perspective, sociological trends, and even case studies. If you have a first draft of a paper you may have, just by good writing instincts, addressed your readers’ needs for background in some capacity already; however, by providing more background by selecting one of its different forms (more history perhaps instead of definition) you can extend your essay. Below is an example of “background” supplied by a student in his paper called “Terror from the Sky,” which focuses on the detrimental effects of acid rain:

     Acid rain was first recognized as a problem in 1852, in the book, Air and Rain: The Beginnings of Chemical Climatology, by the British Chemist Robert Angus Smith. Smith discovered a link between the dirty air in Manchester, England and the acidic precipitation the town suffered from (Munton 4).

     The negative impact the emissions from smelting plants had on crops was explored in a Canadian law suit in 1918. In this suit, farmers argued

          …the condition of the various crops was due to the action upon them
and upon the soil . . . of the smoke and fumes from the works of the
Company and there is further claim that the use of the waters of
streams upon the plaintiff’s lands became injurious to man and beast. (Munton 5)

The plaintiffs won their case, but the suit failed to set a long lasting precedent. The Canadian government, worried that future judgments against the smelters would put them out of business, passed legislation prohibiting actions of this kind (Munton 5).

     Despite this early confirmation of the damage caused by air pollution, the first major studies showing acid rain’s connection to fossil fuels, and that “long distance transport” of SO2 and N0x was occurring, were not conducted until the 1960’s. Don Munton professor and chair of International Studies at the University of Northern British Columbia, details in Environment that, initial research was centered in Sudbury, Ontario Canada, the location of the huge smelting complex, which was the defendant in the 1918 litigation. In the early 1960’s, Eville Gorham, an ecologist known as “the father of acid rain research in North America” (6), conducted studies that showed lakes and forests around Sudbury were becoming acified. Research done a few years later, by the Ontario government, “pointed directly to sulfur dioxide emissions from the smelters as the cause” (6). Investigations undertaken in The United States and Europe were drawing parallel conclusions.

     Public concern about these alarming reports led to growing interest in environmentalism in the 1960’s and 1970’s, paving the way for laws and international treaties calling for reductions of S02 and N0x levels (Munton 6). One of these laws, the U.S. Clean Air Act of 1970, and the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, call for polluters to take measures such as installing scrubbers in smokestacks, burning low-sulfur oil and coal, and installing catalytic converters to clean car exhausts. Canada, England and all of the industrialized countries of western Europe enacted similar measures (Munton 7)

Expanding Discussion of Sources Used

It seems obvious that another way to extend your paper is to add more sources (seven instead of five, ten instead of seven, fifteen instead of ten, etc.). However, your ability to include more “experts” into your discussion can impress, make huge strides in your grade, and help you become a more effective writer. When an attorney brings in one or two pieces of evidence she may start to get the jury’s attention. When she provides five or ten pieces of evidence she will probably have the jury on her side when the verdict becomes due.

But it’s not just a matter of “plopping” quotes in to cover more space. Using more sources, gives you, the writer, more opportunities to discuss and link ideas. Below is an example from a student’s paper about television news reports. Note how the writer moves from the first draft to her rewrite developing her ideas by introducing her sources more fully, explaining her quotations and examples, reacting more to the information she supplies, and linking her ideas back to her thesis:

First Draft

Thesis statement: Television news reports are often adjusted in a number of ways to present more interesting and appropriate visual images. Therefore, viewers of television news may not always get the real truth.

* * *

     The second category mentions misrepresentation through editing techniques. “Television networks have been outrageously abusive, untruthful, arrogant, and hypocritical in their presentation” (Friendly 189). For example, during the 1968 Democratic Convention, numerous riots broke out outside the convention hall and in the streets of Chicago. There were complaints that television reports were one sided and that “they failed to show the provocative acts of the demonstrators or reveal their violent intentions; instead the pictures were used to unfairly reflect the seeming brutality of the Chicago police” (Shapiro 22). It is certainly true that “TV news – watched by millions of Americans as their only source of info – is generally inadequate” (Burke 42). News reporters create fiction by altering the present reality.


     The second category of news distortion is misrepresentation though editing techniques. Dishonest editing is when a network cuts information and images that do not support the conclusion they want the viewers to come to. [remind the reader of the main idea; define or describe terms] This is why “TV news–watched by millions of Americans as their only source of info–is generally inadequate” (Burke 42). The viewers may think they are informed individuals by watching television news; however, this may not be the case because important parts of a story may be edited out. [explain the quote]

     One example of misrepresentation through editing is described by Andrew Shapiro in his book Media Access. [transition; identify the source] He reveals that during the 1968 Democratic Convention numerous riots broke out outside the convention hall and in the streets of Chicago. There were complaints that television reports were one-sided and that “they failed to show the provocative acts of the demonstrators or reveal their violent intentions; instead pictures were used to unfairly reflect the seeming brutality of the Chicago police” (22). When watching the news, the viewers received only one side of the story about this incident, not because the news reporters presented an outright lie, but because they edited out selected scenes that might influence opinions against the demonstrators. [explain the point of the example]

     Dishonest editing of this kind is most likely one reason why Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart observed that “. . . television networks . . . have been outrageously abusive, untruthful, arrogant, and hypocritical in their presentation” (Friendly 189). [identify the speaker] This charge is especially disturbing because the news is the one place on the television dial where viewers expect to get the truth, but it seems that the news is not above tampering with the truth in order to shape opinions and feelings. [react to the quote] Television news has been known to create fiction by altering the present reality. [link back to thesis]

Opposing View

Sometimes research writers become afraid to include the opposition’s voice in their papers. It seems illogical. Why give the other side a chance to downplay what I have to say? Yet, as in any good debate, how a research writer handles the fencing match of rhetoric is often crucial to the success of a paper. Providing the opposing view enables you as the writer to 1) establish yourself as a writer with a reasonable and rational point of view (“Yes, I’m willing to listen and hear you out.”)  2) show that you are a thorough researcher (“I’ve researched all sides of the issues associated with my topic.”) and 3) put your opinions to the test under the “duress” of your opponent’s opinions thereby demonstrating HOW your assertions are “victories.” The key benefit to including or developing the opposing view is to “set up to knock down.” When you tease your reader into being slightly persuaded by what your opponent’s view is and then turn the tables by showing how your opponent’s view has weaknesses, your ideas take hold, fasten themselves in your reader’s mind, and shine brighter. Below is an example of how a student writer effectively integrated and developed the opposing view in her paper called “Forfeiting Rights: Crime and Punishment?”.

     However, there remains opposition to reforming our prison systems. Prison wardens, the prisoners themselves and even prison rights advocates are speaking out about the issue. As a prior inmate states in his editorial published in Newsweek, “prisoners have a right to be welcome members of society instead of brutalized, brutal outcasts” (Stratton 89). Despite these sentiments, no matter what the crime that was committed, these people are in jail because they wronged somebody in some way. Don’t the victims deserve retribution for their loss, peace of mind, a sense of vindication? Confiscation of televisions and other embellishments hardly seems like retribution for taking another’s life or violating another or their property. They deserve nothing. With the exception of a roof over their head, food and water and maybe an hour outside to catch a glimpse of sunlight, they should be entitled to nothing more. A crime was committed, and this very conscious act of wrongdoing comes with a price.


Emphasis as a writing term, a movement from weaker to stronger points, is associated usually with organization; however, the order in which a research writer presents his writing is crucial to the developmental stages of the writing process. Phrases added to unite ideas and “glue” the paper together become crucial additions for clarity and unity (see Paragraphing). Development does not always mean more; it involves becoming sharper, more coherent, more fluent, and more logical. For instance, a poor strategy in argument is to give your opposition “airtime” at the end of a paper. The last “food” in the reader’s mouth can have a lasting effect. You don’t want to deprive yourself of the chance to “knock down” what your opponent has to say on your topic.

Starting with your strongest point is not a good idea either. Why use your best weapons early on when your weaker defenses might still be effective? Also, a “snowballing” effect is always more convincing. The more and more you hit home your points with increasing accuracy and impact the more your reader becomes persuaded by your points.

A student whose paper is called “Tax Dollars Wash Out Sea” moved from “weaker to stronger” in her argument that “The Federal Government is wasting billions of dollars each year on beach replenishment projects,” by arranging her points with emphasis in mind. She persuades her reader with the following coverage for a “snowballing” effect:

1.   introduction of factors that contribute to the rate of rising sea levels

2.   identification of erosional sediment balance and its effects

3.   discussion of the influence of coastal storms

4.  establishing over-development as one of the major causes of beach erosion

5.  making the point that beach replenishment only benefits a few while in New Jersey all tax payers pay to restore the beach.

6.  sharing the environmental impact of beach replenishment on sea life, ocean currents, and wave action.

With this order in mind, the student’s paper packed more punch as it deliberately let her argument snowball, building and building the strength of her argument as she progressed.

More Examples or Case Studies

You may have used a vignette, a short prose piece that demonstrates a slice of life that pertains to your topic, to hook your readers in your introduction. More narratives or case studies positioned in the body of your paper can help you develop ideas and serve as ways to provide more evidence and illustration. The old cliché, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” is relevant here. Real stories from real people in real circumstances associated with your topic can have a lasting effect on your reader by touching emotional chords. Case studies also serve as data; they are usually the products of experimentation or observation, that back up ratios and percentages reflecting certain trends or aspects of a topic or issue.

Note below the use of a case study by a student from her paper called “Metamorphosis of the Counterculture,” in which she argues that “The majority of counterculturists from the 1960’s betrayed their 60’s ideals during the “me generation” of the 80’s and 90’s.” The case study is located in the body of the paper on page four of a paper that was eight pages long.

     Jerry Rubin, the 1960’s activist who once threw money down on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange to condemn capitalism, later made a fortune by throwing his money into the market, rather than at it. “After the sixties became history and America crawled through the seventies, Rubin gradually withdrew from the public scene. Then in 1980, he went to work on Wall Street, moving in a new direction as an unabashed yuppie and aspiring entrepreneur” (Chepesiuk 182). In a 1992 interview, Rubin reflected on the sixties: “Not growing up was a big part of the sixties. ‘Stay young forever,’ we said . . . The drive goes out of you as you get older. I was telling somebody the other day that I want to lead a very normal life. I want to have my children to grow up to be healthy. I want to grow, to be rich. I enjoy being healthy. I’m not interested in experiencing the ups and downs anymore” (Chepesiuk 191)..

     As for regrets, Rubin states, “I regret not investing in real estate. I shouldn’t have been so dogmatic. I should have had a few things going on the side . . . money can be a tool for positive things. I didn’t realize that at the time” (Chepesiuk 191). Rubin also predicted the reemergence of the sixties in the nineties, only this time the generation would be working within the establishment (Chepesiuk 190). This reflects quite a change in his views from the sixties, when he believed that capitalism and the establishment were evil, and must be done away with. Many have accused Rubin of being a ‘sell-out’ because of this transformation, but he himself admits that “the change is totally legitimate . . . America has accepted that most of the sixties activists have gone into business today” (Chepesiuk 195).


Exposing a problem can be the main and only objective or goal of a research paper. Providing answers, recommendations, or possible solutions to the problem may or may not be within the scope of a researcher’s intentions. However, addressing solutions can be an appealing way to extend your research writing. You may, for instance, have dedicated your paper on “eating disorders” to the causes and effects of that problem in society, and that may have taken you very far in terms of length. But if “more,” becomes a challenge you have to address, you can dedicate time to “solutions” to the problem towards the end of your paper. This does not mean you have to solve a problem that has not been solved for years and years, but you can offer insights into the changes that can or should take place for this problem to be eradicated or reduced. You can also dedicate coverage to what is being done even though the problem still exists. Some researchers save their best solution for their conclusion.

Below find examples of solutions offered in a paper called “Cults in Our Society” after the problem had been exposed by the writer in her paper.

     Getting out of a cult is much harder than getting in, and is almost impossible. And escaping with all one’s faculties is hopeless. There will always be emotional scars. Although occasionally people leave a cult of their own free will, it is a rare occurrence. Usually, family members intervene and actually have their relatives kidnapped by professional deprogrammers. Exit-counselor and former cult member Rick Ross has deprogrammed several people against their will. He said that although the deprogrammings were involuntary, all were successful. He went on to say that although it is possible for people to lead normal, healthy lives outside the cult, it is much more feasible for someone who has been deprogrammed than for a “Walk-away.” People who have undergone the deprogramming process understand what was wrong with the group and it’s leader whereas people who leave the group on their own tend to feel like they have betrayed their cult family and have sinned against them. It is a difficult process for both. It is a highly emotional, stressful time and all members experience conflict. Much counseling is needed to lead a productive life after leaving cult life (“Jonestown”).

     Public awareness could be the biggest help in fighting future cult activity. Once people are aware of the deceitful ways of cult leaders, they are less likely to become prey for recruiters. Before I actually started the research for this paper, I had made up my mind that all people who belonged to cults, with the exception of the children, deserved to be there. They had chosen that lifestyle and now would have to live with their decisions. I now feel differently. I sympathize with those who feel compelled to stay in cults and for their family members and friends. And I agree with Margaret Singer who said that “the deaths of cult members should not be viewed as suicides, but rather murders–directed by the person they trusted the most, their leader” (98).