What this handout is about

This handout will specify what an argument is and explain why you need one in many of your academic essays.

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Arguments space everywhere

You may be surprised to hear that the word “argument” walk not need to be written almost everywhere in your assignment for it come be vital part of your task. In fact, do an argument—expressing a allude of check out on a subject and supporting it through evidence—is frequently the target of scholastic writing. Your instructors might assume the you know this and also thus might not describe the prestige of arguments in class.

Most product you find out in university is or has actually been questioned by someone, somewhere, at some time. Even when the product you check out or listen is presented together a straightforward fact, it may actually be one person’s interpretation of a set of information. Instructors may speak to on you to examine that interpretation and defend it, refute it, or offer some new view of her own. In writing assignments, you will almost always have to do more than just summarize details that you have actually gathered or regurgitate facts that have been disputed in class. Girlfriend will need to develop a allude of see on or interpretation of that product and provide evidence for her position.

Consider an example. For nearly 2000 years, educated world in countless Western cultures thought that bloodletting—deliberately bring about a sick person to lose blood—was the most effective treatment because that a variety of illnesses. The insurance claim that bloodletting is advantageous to human wellness was no widely wondered about until the 1800s, and some physicians ongoing to recommend bloodletting as late as the 1920s. Medical practices have actually now readjusted because part people began to doubt the efficiency of bloodletting; these people argued against it and noted convincing evidence. Human knowledge grows out of such distinctions of opinion, and also scholars prefer your instructors spend their lives involved in dispute over what cases may it is in counted as accurate in your fields. In their courses, they desire you to communicate in comparable kinds of vital thinking and also debate.

Argumentation is not simply what your instructors do. Us all usage argumentation on a daily basis, and also you probably currently have some skill at do an argument. The much more you improve your skills in this area, the much better you will certainly be at reasoning critically, reasoning, making choices, and weighing evidence.

Making a claim

What is one argument? In academic writing, an argument is commonly a main idea, often referred to as a “claim” or “thesis statement,” backed up with proof that support the idea. In the majority of university papers, girlfriend will must make some kind of claim and also use proof to support it, and also your capacity to execute this well will different your documents from those of college student who check out assignments as mere accumulations the fact and also detail. In other words, gone are the happy work of being provided a “topic” around which you deserve to write anything. That is time to stake out a position and prove why the is a great position because that a thinking human to hold. Check out our handout on thesis statements.

Claims have the right to be as simple as “Protons room positively charged and also electrons space negatively charged,” with proof such as, “In this experiment, protons and also electrons acted in such and also such a way.” claims can likewise be as complex as “Genre is the many important aspect to the contract the expectations in between filmmaker and audience,” utilizing reasoning and also evidence together as, “defying genre expectations can create a complete apocalypse the story type and content, leaving us stranded in a kind of genre-less abyss.” In either case, the remainder of your file will detail the reasoning and also evidence that have actually led girlfriend to believe that your position is best.

When beginning to create a paper, questioning yourself, “What is mine point?” because that example, the point of this handout is to assist you become a much better writer, and also we are arguing that vital step in the procedure of writing effective debates is understanding the ide of argumentation. If your records do not have a main point, they can not be suggesting for anything. Asking yourself what your allude is can aid you avoid a just “information dump.” take into consideration this: her instructors probably recognize a lot more than girlfriend do about your topic matter. Why, then, would you desire to carry out them with material they currently know? Instructors room usually trying to find two things:

Proof the you understand the materialA demonstrate of your ability to use or use the material in methods that go beyond what you have read or heard.

This second part can be done in numerous ways: you deserve to critique the material, apply it to something else, or also just describe it in a different way. In order to succeed at this second step, though, friend must have a specific point come argue.

Arguments in academic writing are usually facility and take it time come develop. Your dispute will need to be an ext than a an easy or evident statement such as “Frank Lloyd Wright to be a great architect.” together a declare might capture your early impressions of Wright together you have studied him in class; however, you must look deeper and express especially what led to that “greatness.” your instructor will most likely expect something an ext complicated, such together “Frank Lloyd Wright’s style combines aspects of europe modernism, asian aesthetic form, and locally benidormclubdeportivo.orgovered materials to develop a unique brand-new style,” or “There room many solid similarities in between Wright’s structure designs and also those of his mother, which suggests that he might have borrowed some of she ideas.” To build your argument, you would then define your terms and also prove your case with proof from Wright’s drawings and buildings and also those of the other architects girlfriend mentioned.


Do not avoid with having actually a point. You have to earlier up your allude with evidence. The toughness of your evidence, and your use of it, deserve to make or break her argument. Check out our handout on evidence. You already have the organic inclination because that this kind of thinking, if not in an academic setting. Think around how girlfriend talked your parents right into letting you borrow the household car. Walk you current them with many instances the your previous trustworthiness? go you do them feeling guilty because your friends’ parents every let lock drive? Did friend whine till they just wanted you to shut up? Did friend look increase statistics on teen driving and also use lock to present how friend didn’t right the dangerous-driver profile? These space all species of argumentation, and also they exist in academia in comparable forms.

Every ar has slightly different requirements for acceptable evidence, for this reason familiarize yourself through some disagreements from in ~ that field instead that just using whatever proof you like best. Pay fist to her textbooks and your instructor’s lectures. What species of argument and evidence are they using? The form of proof that sways an English instructor may not work-related to to convince a sociology instructor. Find out what counts as proof that something is true in the field. Is the statistics, a logical development of points, something native the object being discussed (art work, text, culture, or atom), the method something works, or some mix of much more than one of these things?

Be continuous with your evidence. Unequal negotiating for the use of her parents’ car, a college file is not the place for an all-out blitz of every type of argument. Friend can often use an ext than one form of proof within a paper, yet make sure that within each ar you are offering the reader with evidence appropriate to each claim. So, if you start a i or section with a statement choose “Putting the college student seating area closer come the basketball court will certainly raise player performance,” perform not follow through your proof on exactly how much an ext money the university can raise by letting an ext students walk to games for free. Information about how fan assistance raises player morale, i beg your pardon then results in much better play, would be a much better follow-up. Your next section could offer clear factors why undergraduates have actually as much or an ext right to attend an undergraduate event as rich alumni—but this details would no go in the exact same section as the fan support stuff. You cannot convince a confused person, so store things tidy and ordered.


One means to strengthen your argument and show that you have a deep understanding of the worry you are pointing out is to anticipate and resolve counterarguments or objections. By considering what someone that disagrees v your position might have come say about your argument, you present that you have thought points through, and you dispose of few of the reasons your audience might have for no accepting her argument. Recall our discussion of student seating in the Dean Dome. To do the most effective dispute possible, you should consider not just what students would certainly say around seating but also what alumni who have actually paid a lot come get great seats might say.

You deserve to generate counterarguments by questioning yourself how someone who disagrees with you could respond to each of the point out you’ve made or your place as a whole. If girlfriend can’t immediately imagine an additional position, here are some techniques to try:

Do part research. It might seem come you the no one might possibly disagree v the position you are arguing, however someone most likely has. For example, some civilization argue the a hotdog is a sandwich. If you space making an discussion concerning, because that example, the qualities of an excellent sandwich, you might want to check out what few of these people have come say.Talk v a girlfriend or through your teacher. Another person may be able to imagine counterarguments the haven’t developed to you.Consider your conclusion or claim and the premises of your argument and also imagine someone who denies every of them. Because that example, if girlfriend argued, “Cats do the ideal pets. This is since they space clean and also independent,” you might imagine someone saying, “Cats execute not do the ideal pets. They space dirty and needy.”

Once you have actually thought up part counterarguments, think about how you will respond come them—will friend concede that your adversary has a allude but explain why her audience need to nonetheless expropriate your argument? will certainly you reject the counterargument and also explain why the is mistaken? one of two people way, friend will want to leave your reader through a feeling that your debate is stronger than the opposite arguments.

When you space summarizing opposing arguments, it is in charitable. Existing each argument relatively and objectively, rather than do the efforts to make it look foolish. You want to present that girlfriend have considered the numerous sides that the issue. If friend simply attack or caricature your opponent (also described as presenting a “straw man”), you imply that your argument is only qualified of defeating really weak adversary, which might undermine your discussion rather than enhance it.

It is usually better to take into consideration one or two major counterarguments in part depth, quite than to give a long however superficial list of many different counterarguments and replies.

Be sure that her reply is continuous with your initial argument. If considering a counterargument alters your position, friend will should go back and revise your original dispute accordingly.


Audience is a very important consideration in argument. Take a look at our handout on audience. A lifetime of dealing with your family members members has actually helped you figure out which arguments work ideal to guide each that them. Possibly whining works with one parent, however the other will just accept cold, tough statistics. Your son brother might listen only to the sound that money in his palm. It’s usually wise to think of your audience in an academic setup as someone who is perfectly smart yet who doesn’t have to agree with you. You space not simply expressing your opinion in an argument (“It’s true since I stated so”), and in most instances your audience will recognize something around the subject at hand—so friend will require sturdy proof. At the very same time, do not think of her audience as capable of reading your mind. You have to come out and state both her claim and also your evidence clearly. Execute not i think that because the instructor to know the material, the or she understands what part of it you space using, what you think around it, and why you have taken the place you’ve chosen.

Critical reading

Critical reading is a big part of expertise argument. Although some of the product you check out will be an extremely persuasive, do not fall under the order of the published word as authority. Very couple of of her instructors think the the texts they assign as the last word on the subject. Remember that the author of every text has an agenda, something the he or she wants you come believe. This is OK—everything is composed from someone’s perspective—but it’s a an excellent thing come be mindful of. For an ext information top top objectivity and also bias and also on reading sources carefully, check out our handouts on assessing print sources and reading to write.

Take notes either in the margins of your resource (if you space using a photocopy or your own book) or top top a different sheet together you read. Placed away the highlighter! just highlighting a text is good for memorizing the main principles in that text—it does no encourage an important reading. Component of her goal together a reader must be to put the author’s principles in your very own words. Then you deserve to stop thinking of these ideas as facts and also start reasoning of them together arguments.

When girlfriend read, ask you yourself questions favor “What is the author trying to prove?” and also “What is the writer assuming I will agree with?” execute you agree v the author? does the author adequately protect her argument? What type of proof go she use? Is there something she pipeline out the you would placed in? Does putting it in hurt her argument? together you get used to analysis critically, girlfriend will begin to check out the sometimes covert agendas of various other writers, and you deserve to use this ability to boost your own capability to craft efficient arguments.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while creating this handout. This is not a an extensive list of sources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage friend to carry out your very own research to find additional publications. Please carry out not usage this list as a version for the style of your very own reference list, as it might not complement the citation format you are using. Because that guidance on formatting citations, please watch the benidormclubdeportivo.org Libraries citation tutorial. We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Anson, kris M., and also Robert A. Schwegler. 2010. The Longman Handbook because that Writers and also Readers, 6th ed. New York: Longman.

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, Joseph Bizup, and also William T. FitzGerald. 2016. The handmade of Research, 4th ed. Chicago: university of Chicago Press.

Ede, Lisa. 2004. Work in Progress: A guide to scholastic Writing and also Revising, 6th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.

Gage, john T. 2005. The form of Reason: Argumentative composing in College, 4th ed. New York: Longman.

Lunsford, Andrea A., and John J. Ruszkiewicz. 2016. Everything’s an Argument, 7th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.

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Rosen, Leonard J., and Laurence Behrens. 2003. The Allyn & Bacon Handbook, fifth ed. New York: Longman.

This occupational is license is granted under a creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 License.You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The composing Center, university of north Carolina in ~ Chapel Hill