Techniques In Writing Argumentative Essays

Argumentative Essays

Summary:

The Modes of Discourse—Exposition, Description, Narration, Argumentation (EDNA)—are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these approaches and students’ need to understand and produce them.

Contributors: Jack Baker, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli
Last Edited: 2013-03-10 11:46:44

What is an argumentative essay?

The argumentative essay is a genre of writing that requires the student to investigate a topic; collect, generate, and evaluate evidence; and establish a position on the topic in a concise manner.

Please note: Some confusion may occur between the argumentative essay and the expository essay. These two genres are similar, but the argumentative essay differs from the expository essay in the amount of pre-writing (invention) and research involved. The argumentative essay is commonly assigned as a capstone or final project in first year writing or advanced composition courses and involves lengthy, detailed research. Expository essays involve less research and are shorter in length. Expository essays are often used for in-class writing exercises or tests, such as the GED or GRE.

Argumentative essay assignments generally call for extensive research of literature or previously published material. Argumentative assignments may also require empirical research where the student collects data through interviews, surveys, observations, or experiments. Detailed research allows the student to learn about the topic and to understand different points of view regarding the topic so that she/he may choose a position and support it with the evidence collected during research. Regardless of the amount or type of research involved, argumentative essays must establish a clear thesis and follow sound reasoning.

The structure of the argumentative essay is held together by the following.

  • A clear, concise, and defined thesis statement that occurs in the first paragraph of the essay.

In the first paragraph of an argument essay, students should set the context by reviewing the topic in a general way. Next the author should explain why the topic is important (exigence) or why readers should care about the issue. Lastly, students should present the thesis statement. It is essential that this thesis statement be appropriately narrowed to follow the guidelines set forth in the assignment. If the student does not master this portion of the essay, it will be quite difficult to compose an effective or persuasive essay.

  • Clear and logical transitions between the introduction, body, and conclusion.

Transitions are the mortar that holds the foundation of the essay together. Without logical progression of thought, the reader is unable to follow the essay’s argument, and the structure will collapse. Transitions should wrap up the idea from the previous section and introduce the idea that is to follow in the next section.

  • Body paragraphs that include evidential support.

Each paragraph should be limited to the discussion of one general idea. This will allow for clarity and direction throughout the essay. In addition, such conciseness creates an ease of readability for one’s audience. It is important to note that each paragraph in the body of the essay must have some logical connection to the thesis statement in the opening paragraph. Some paragraphs will directly support the thesis statement with evidence collected during research. It is also important to explain how and why the evidence supports the thesis (warrant).

However, argumentative essays should also consider and explain differing points of view regarding the topic. Depending on the length of the assignment, students should dedicate one or two paragraphs of an argumentative essay to discussing conflicting opinions on the topic. Rather than explaining how these differing opinions are wrong outright, students should note how opinions that do not align with their thesis might not be well informed or how they might be out of date.

  • Evidential support (whether factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal).

The argumentative essay requires well-researched, accurate, detailed, and current information to support the thesis statement and consider other points of view. Some factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal evidence should support the thesis. However, students must consider multiple points of view when collecting evidence. As noted in the paragraph above, a successful and well-rounded argumentative essay will also discuss opinions not aligning with the thesis. It is unethical to exclude evidence that may not support the thesis. It is not the student’s job to point out how other positions are wrong outright, but rather to explain how other positions may not be well informed or up to date on the topic.

  • A conclusion that does not simply restate the thesis, but readdresses it in light of the evidence provided.

It is at this point of the essay that students may begin to struggle. This is the portion of the essay that will leave the most immediate impression on the mind of the reader. Therefore, it must be effective and logical. Do not introduce any new information into the conclusion; rather, synthesize the information presented in the body of the essay. Restate why the topic is important, review the main points, and review your thesis. You may also want to include a short discussion of more research that should be completed in light of your work.

A complete argument

Perhaps it is helpful to think of an essay in terms of a conversation or debate with a classmate. If I were to discuss the cause of World War II and its current effect on those who lived through the tumultuous time, there would be a beginning, middle, and end to the conversation. In fact, if I were to end the argument in the middle of my second point, questions would arise concerning the current effects on those who lived through the conflict. Therefore, the argumentative essay must be complete, and logically so, leaving no doubt as to its intent or argument.

The five-paragraph essay

A common method for writing an argumentative essay is the five-paragraph approach. This is, however, by no means the only formula for writing such essays. If it sounds straightforward, that is because it is; in fact, the method consists of (a) an introductory paragraph (b) three evidentiary body paragraphs that may include discussion of opposing views and (c) a conclusion.

Longer argumentative essays

Complex issues and detailed research call for complex and detailed essays. Argumentative essays discussing a number of research sources or empirical research will most certainly be longer than five paragraphs. Authors may have to discuss the context surrounding the topic, sources of information and their credibility, as well as a number of different opinions on the issue before concluding the essay. Many of these factors will be determined by the assignment.

Argumentative essay writing tips are more or less a dime a dozen when it comes to putting everything together. Two of the most important tips when writing an argumentative essay are:

  • Find a concrete, and controversial argument to use as your base.
  • Format your essay correctly. Formatting can be a great help when formulating your thoughts and putting them on paper.
  • Research as much as possible. Rearching your own topic as well as any topics that may be in direct opposition of the topic that you chose.

The more you flush out a good topic and back it up with research, the better off your essay will inevitably be.

Building an Effective Argumentative Essay

After deciding upon a good and highly controversial topic then you are ready to put your thoughts down on paper to start building an outline, which will eventually translate into an argumentative essay.

Here are a few tips that you should consider when putting together an argumentative essay.

  • Find your topic – From abortion to human trafficking, the sky is the limit when it comes to finding a heated topic to present as an argument.
  • Think about your stance – Are you going to be for or against human trafficking? Logically, most people would be against human trafficking; but, either way, you will need to be confident and comfortable in whatever stance you take.
You will need to be able to substantiate the facts and cleverly fuse them with your stance in order to arrive at a solid argumentative essay. Think long and hard in order to better be able to discern where you are trying to take the topic argumentatively.
  • Do your homework – There have undoubtedly been others who have argued for or against the topic that you chose who may have done it years prior to you even thinking about it.

Take time out to research how your predecessors argued their stance. This is not to say that you should mirror that stance, but it might give you a heads up and/or better tips on what direction you should be moving towards when it comes to the ebb and the flow of the argument.

  • Know your opposition – Every argumentative topic has a pro side and an opposing side. The best possible strategy that you can employ when writing the article is to know your opponent’s stance on the issue. When you know how your opponent will think or what rebuttal he or she will try to use, then you will have an upper hand on how to out debate them. Knowing your opponent is essential in counter-attacking  when it comes to your argumentative essay.
  • Get the facts – What good is an argumentative essay if there are no facts?  The bottom line is that you need facts in order to support your argument on your controversial topic. No one wants to look like an amateur, and in order to avoid doing such you will need to have cognitive and verifiable facts that will back up your argument completely. Without these facts your risk looking both unprofessional and unprepared.
  • Pick a topic that you are passionate about – When there is no passion in an argumentative essay then there is nothing to capture the attention of the reader. In order to convey your argument it is imperative for you to be passionate about any topic that you pick. If you do not believe in it then no one else will either.

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Argumentative Essay Writing Tips

By YourDictionary

Argumentative essay writing tips are more or less a dime a dozen when it comes to putting everything together. Two of the most important tips when writing an argumentative essay are:Find a concrete, and controversial argument to use as your base.Format your essay correctly. Formatting can be a great help when formulating your thoughts and putting them on paper.Research as much as possible. Rearching your own topic as well as any topics that may be in direct opposition of the topic that you chose.The more you flush out a good topic and back it up with research, the better off your essay will inevitably be.

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