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Undergraduate Writing: Authority


As you progress in your program, begin to view course assignments as opportunities to build your authority on a subject. Read over the paragraph that you rewrote for the Directness Exercise. Would the new paragraph win a debate about bullying in schools or convince an auditorium filled with teachers? Why or why not? What is missing?

The missing element in the paragraph is specific evidence. Without evidence (in the form of statistics, real-life examples, or other research), readers are left with only the author's broad opinion on bullying. Opinion is not enough to convince educators, parents, or the school board that policies should be changed. Scholars gather evidence to build their authority as experts and to support their argument.


For this exercise, briefly search online for statistics, books, and articles on bullying. (Remember to access scholary websites rather than Wikipedia, eHow, or Then incorporate this information into the paragraph on bullying from the Directness Exercise.

How is the argument strengthened by the research?

Exercise Discussion

This is one writer's addition of research:

One out of every five students is bulled in U.S. high schools (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). Effects of bullying include depression and anxiety, school absences and dropouts, and underachievement (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.). Teenagers should feel safe so that they can learn, graduate, and attend college. Because bullies are constantly targeting others, many students will not get that chance. Educators and administrators need to put peer mediation and a "no tolerance" policy in place in all schools.

Note that the writer has used citations to credit the original sources of data. To learn more about why, when, and how to cite, see our citations page.