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Organizing Your Argument. Purdue OWL staff Brought to you in cooperation with the Purdue Online Writing Lab. What is an Argument?. An argument involves the process of… establishing a claim and then proving it with the use of logical reasoning, examples, and research.
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Organizing Your Argument Purdue OWL staff Brought to you in cooperation with the Purdue Online Writing Lab
What is an Argument? • An argument involves the process of… • establishing a claim and then • provingit with the use of • logical reasoning, • examples, and • research.
The Importance of Organization • Why is organization important in argument? • Guides an audience through your reasoning process. • Offers a clear explanation of each argued point. • Demonstrates the credibility of the writer.
Organizing Your Argument • Title • Introduction • Thesis statement • Body Paragraphs • Constructing Topic Sentences • Building Main Points • Countering the Opposition • Conclusion
Why You Need A Title Title: (1) introduces the topic of discussion to the audience and (2) generates reader interest in the argument. Tip: Use active verbs in titles For example: Clean Campus Cleaning up Campus With Recycling Bins or Reducing Rubbish: Recycling on Campus
Considering Titles • Imagine you just wrote a paper offering solutions to the problem of road rage. • Which do you consider to be the best title? • Road Rage • Can’t Drive 55 • Road Rage: Curing Our Highway Epidemic
What is an Introduction? • Introduction: acquaints the reader with the topic and purpose of the paper. • An introduction offers a plan for the ensuing argument: • Introduction: Tell them what you’re going to tell them. • Body: Tell them. • Conclusion: Tell them what you told them
The introduction is the broad beginning of the paper that answers three important questions: What is this? Why am I reading it? What do you want me to do? You should answer these questions by doing the following: Set the context: provide general information about the main idea, explaining the situation so the reader can make sense of the topic and the claims you make and support State why the main idea is important: tell the reader why he or she should care and keep reading. Your goal is to create a compelling, clear, and convincing essay people will want to read and act upon State your thesis/claim: compose a sentence or two stating the position you will support with logos (sound reasoning: induction, deduction), pathos (balanced emotional appeal), and ethos (author credibility).
Methods for Constructing an Introduction • Personal anecdote • Example—real or hypothetical • Question • Quotation • Shocking statistics • Striking image
What is a Thesis Statement? • It is the most important sentence in your paper. • It lets the reader know the main idea of the paper. • It answers the question: “What am I trying to prove?” • It is not a factual statement, but a claim that has to be proven throughout the paper
Role of the Thesis Statement • The thesis statement should guide your reader through your argument. • It is generally located in the introduction of the paper. • A thesis statement may also be located within the body of the paper or in the conclusion, depending upon the purpose or argument of the paper.
Thesis Practice Make sure you avoid the following when creating your thesis: A thesis is not a title Homes and schools (title) vs. Parents ought to participate more in the education of their children (good thesis). A thesis is not an announcement of the subject My subject is the incompetence of the Supreme Court vs. The Supreme Court made a mistake when it ruled in favor of George W. Bush in the 2000 election. A thesis is not a statement of absolute fact: Jane Austen is the author of Pride and Prejudice.
Quick Checklist: _____ The thesis/claim follows the guidelines outlined above. _____ The thesis/claim matches the requirements and goals of the assignment. _____ The thesis/claim is clear and easily recognizable. _____ The thesis/claim seems supportable by good reasoning/data, emotional appeal.
Body Paragraphs and Topic Sentences • Body paragraphs: (1) build upon the claims made in the introductory paragraph(s); (2) are organized with the use of topic sentences that illustrate the main idea of each paragraph. • Tip: Offering a brief explanation of the history or recent developments of topic within the early body paragraphs can help the audience become familiarized with your topic and the complexity of the issue.
The four elements of a good paragraph (TTEB) A good paragraph should contain at least the following four elements: Transition, Topic sentence, specific Evidence and analysis, and a Brief wrap-up sentence (also known as a warrant): TTEB! A Transition sentence leading in from a previous paragraph to assure smooth reading. This acts as a hand off from one idea to the next. A Topic sentence that tells the reader what you will be discussing in the paragraph. Specific Evidence and analysis that supports one of your claims and that provides a deeper level of detail than your topic sentence. A Brief wrap-up sentence that tells the reader how and why this information supports the paper’s thesis. The brief wrap-up is also known as the warrant. The warrant is important to your argument because it connects your reasoning and support to your thesis, and it shows that the information in the paragraph is related to your thesis and helps defend it.
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. • It shows you have considered other points of view - that other points of view are valid and reasonable.
Locating 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.
Organizing your rebuttal section When you rebut or refute an opposing position, use the following three-part organization: The opponent’s argument: At the beginning of your paragraph, you need to state, accurately and fairly, the main points of the argument you will refute. Your position: Next, make clear the nature of your disagreement with the argument or position you are refuting. Your refutation: The specifics of your counterargument will depend upon the nature of your disagreement. If you challenge the writer’s evidence, then you must present the more recent evidence. If you challenge assumptions, then you must explain why they do not hold up. If your position is that the piece is filled with fallacies, then you must present and explain each fallacy.
Effective Counterarguments • Consider your audience when you offer your counterargument: • Conceding to some of your opposition’s concerns can demonstrate respect for their opinions. • Using rude or deprecating language can cause your audience to reject your position. Remain tactful yet firm.
Research in 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.
The Conclusion • Conclusion: Reemphasizes 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.
The End ORGANIZING YOUR ARGUMENT Purdue OWL staff Brought to you in cooperation with the Purdue Online Writing Lab