Paper 2 Requirements

Paper #2: Comparing Ideas

Due 13 October



Your second paper should be a 3-5 page paper, formatted according to MLA guidelines, that compares and/or contrasts two ideas/items.  You must use at least two outside sources for the paper. This can include direct quotes, summaries, or paraphrases. Remember that using sources requires a Works Cited page.



In this paper you will choose two ideas, experiences, or things that are similar enough or different enough to warrant an essay. Obviously, apples are different from oranges, but can you (or should you) write an essay on that topic? Probably not. Unless you have a radical new perspective that no one has written about before.

You need to come up with a topic that is small enough to do well in a short essay and is focused enough so that the reader is aware of WHY you are comparing the two things. So, you cannot compare 2 countries: there are entire books on each of the countries. You need to compare 2-3 aspects of those two countries that are connected (vacation spots, the weather) and I need to know WHY you are comparing them (in introduction you went on vacation to two different countries and did not enjoy the one at all). The different weather and vacation places are part of the reasons for why you did not enjoy the vacation in the one place versus the other. Or, you cannot compare 2 pets (again, entire books on each kind of pet), so you compare the sleeping habits of each and how each one cuddles. Why? Because your spouse gets along so much better with the one pet than the other. And the sleeping habits and demands for attention (cuddling habits) of the one match his/her personality much better than the other animal’s. So the introduction is used to explain the WHY of the essay (why you are comparing the two things) and the rest of the essay is carefully focused so it is not too broad and explains the why of the essay. Do not forget you have to fit in authoritative sources for your topic as well. This is a lot to craft in an essay so it takes some thought.

A good place to start might be’s “40 Writing Topics: Comparison &  Contrast Writing Suggestions for a Comparison and Contrast Paragraph, Essay, or  Speech

Again, topics that are religious or ethical in nature are NOT allowed. Religious and/or ethical arguments are a special category of academic writing that will be covered in an upper division philosophy course.  If you are having trouble deciding on a topic, please contact your instructor or the UAF Writing Center. “I couldn’t think of a good topic' is in no way, shape, or form, a viable excise for a late or missing assignment.



An A+ paper will display the following qualities:

  • 3-5 properly formatted pages
  • a minimum of three sources plus a Works Cited page
  • nearly perfect grammar and spelling
  • a comparison of two ideas, experiences, or things that are similar enough or different enough to warrant an essay
  • A clear thesis statement with organized paragraphs that support that thesis


*Once you’ve turned your paper in, your instructor will grade your draft, and advise you on changes that need to be made. Should you choose to revise, your instructor will replace your first grade with the revised grade.  The revision is due on October 27.

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