Paper Writing: Making an Argument Are you writing an argument?



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Paper Writing: Making an Argument

Are you writing an argument?

  • An argument involves the process of establishing a claim and then proving it with the use of logical reasoning, examples, and research.

Steps in the Process

  • Choose a topic you can explore.
  • Study the issues critically.
  • Pick a side.
  • Make a claim (thesis statement).
  • Make a case for the defense of your position.
  • Consider the opposing viewpoints by either a) refuting them or b) qualifying your own argument.
  • Test your argument for fairness/effectiveness

Writing Clearly for Arts & Science

  • Three main principles of good writing are:
  • Clarity
  • Conciseness
  • Forcefulness
  • “When you are out to describe the truth,
  • leave elegance to the tailor.” Albert Einstein

Organizing Your Paper

Why is organization important in building an argument?

  • Guides an audience through your reasoning process
  • Offers a clear explanation of each argued point
  • Demonstrates the credibility of the writer

Thinking about Titles

  • Introduce the topic of discussion to the audience
  • Avoid titles that are too general or lack character
  • Pick up on words or examples offered in the body or conclusion of the paper

Ways to Begin an Introduction

  • personal anecdote
  • example-real or hypothetical
  • question
  • quotation
  • shocking statistics
  • striking image
  • brief summary of the background

What is a thesis statement?

  • The MOST IMPORTANT SENTENCE in your paper
  • Lets the reader know the main idea of the paper
  • Not a factual statement, but a claim that has to be proven throughout the paper
  • Answers the question: “What am I trying to prove?”

3 Kinds of Thesis Statements

  • Analytical thesis statements:
  • “Electronic invasion of privacy endangers Canadian families.”
  • Argumentative thesis statements:
  • “Internet users should never send personal information, such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, or even home addresses, through the internet.”
  • Explanatory thesis statements:
  • - “Privacy problems on the internet are inevitable because of the technical format, human nature, and the realities of contemporary life.”

Thesis Statements in Argument Essays

  • Everything in the essay should relate to the thesis statement.
  • Construct a series of arguments which will convince the reader of the truth and validity of your position as stated in the thesis.
  • Use your thesis statement as the starting point for a plan or outline of your essay.

Which thesis statement is the most effective for an argument about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • Parents, often too busy to watch television shows with their families, can monitor their children’s viewing habits with the aid of the V-chip.
  • To help parents monitor their children’s viewing habits, the V-chip should be a required feature for television sets sold in the U.S.
  • This paper will describe a V-chip and examine the uses of the V-chip in American-made television sets.

How Can You Tell a Strong Thesis Statement?

  • A strong thesis takes some sort of stand.
  • A strong thesis justifies the discussion in the rest of your essay.
  • A strong thesis expresses one main idea.
  • A strong thesis statement is specific.

Body Paragraphs and Topic Sentences

  • Body paragraphs build upon the claims made in the introductory paragraph(s).
  • Use topic sentences to illustrate the main idea of each paragraph.
  • Give a brief explanation of the history or recent developments in your topic within the early body paragraphs.

Body Paragraphs

  • Paragraphs may be ordered in several ways, depending upon the topic and purpose of your argument:

Offering a Counterargument

  • Addressing the claims of the opposition is an important component in building a convincing argument.
  • It demonstrates your credibility as a writer--you have researched multiple sides of the argument and have come to an informed decision.

Offering a Counterargument

  • Counterarguments may be located at various locations within your body paragraphs.
  • You may choose to:
    • build each of your main points as a contrast to oppositional claims.
    • offer a counterargument after you have articulated your main claims.

Counterarguing effectively

  • Consider your audience when you offer your counterargument.
  • Conceding to some of your opposition’s concerns can demonstrate respect for their opinions.
  • Remain tactful yet firm.
    • Using rude or deprecating language can cause your audience to reject your position without carefully considering your claims.

Incorporating research into the body paragraphs

  • Researched material can aid you in proving the claims of your argument and disproving oppositional claims.
  • Be sure to use your research to support the claims made in your topic sentences--make your research work to prove your argument!

Conclusion -- The Big Finale

  • Your conclusion should reemphasize the main points made in your paper.
  • You may choose to reiterate a call to action or speculate on the future of your topic, when appropriate.
  • Avoid raising new claims in your conclusion.

Organizing your argument

  • Title
  • Introduction
  • Body Paragraphs
    • Constructing Topic Sentences
    • Building Main Points
    • Countering the Opposition
  • Conclusion


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