This essay will be 4-6 pages.
The purpose of argumentation is to convince your reader of a particular idea or
contention. Since you, as the writer, will be trying to convince your reader of your
position or viewpoint, it follows that your viewpoint on the subject is debatable. Thus,
your thesis must have a debatable “edge” to it. An expository thesis might read,
“Pesticides can be harmful if they are used improperly.” But an argumentative thesis
statement would have a debatable quality such as “Pesticides must be banned from use in
agriculture.” The argumentation thesis statement is frequently called a “proposition.” Of
course, you should arrive at this thesis only after you have done some research on the
topic. In argumentation, you should not decide your position on the issue based on how
you might “feel” about it, but based on what you know and can support with evidence
Since the thesis statement, or the “proposition,” is debatable, the introduction should
NOT be controversial or inflammatory. Therefore, do not include anything here that your
reader might find disagreeable or offensive. Remember, the introduction is the hook that
will get your reader thinking about your issue and lead him or her to want to follow your
reasoning further through the body of the paper. Your introduction should provide your
reader with adequate background information about the issue and look at both sides
thoroughly and fairly. You want to try to hook those readers who may not agree with you
and you want to appear credible and reasonable to those readers who may be curious
about your position and its merits. You should not worry about the readers who already
think and feel the same way you do about the subject matter. They will automatically
continue to read (if the writing is readable, of course!) since they are reading to have their
beliefs and positions reinforced.
The body paragraphs are very important because they provide readers with reasoning and
the evidence that you have used to arrive at your proposition, or thesis. A couple of items
to remember about an effective body in argumentation: first, you must be extremely well-organized and structured within each paragraph, sticking to the development and
explanation of one idea of support. And, since you are trying to convince people who
may not want to be convinced, you have to offer more than one example or illustration
per support paragraph. Never offer one “oddball” case to support your thesis. For
instance, you might research a story about a person who was not wearing a safety belt
and was thrown from the car just before it went over the embankment. To use this as
evidence that seatbelts really do not save lives is ludicrous, as your reader can easily see
that you have ignored the larger body of evidence that proves that they do save lives.
What this ultimately all means is that your evidence within the paragraphs of support
must be factual, rational, sufficient and well documented. Remember that LOGIC is the
key to argumentation. Stay away from emotional appeals and logical fallacies.
Argumentation Writing topics and assignment
Again, your essay must be 4-6 pages in length. Since the support for your thesis must be
factual, you will need to do some research. Conduct this research just the way you did for your other papers. Choose a topic that lends itself to a powerful third person
academic voice, but do not write about abortion, euthanasia, or gun control. Whatever
topic you choose, make sure you stick with academic sources – that means no Wikipedia
or any other encyclopedia or dictionary or book notes source, and do not cite from the
Bible as an academic source. If you want to use the Bible to set up a discussion that you
will argue and support with academic research, you can certainly do that. List the Bible
in your Works Cited like any other text, but do not count it as one of your academic
resources. You must cite from at least two essays from the Vesterman textbook as
part of your research and your in-text documentation. This is not particularly
difficult, since the essays in the textbook cover many topics, and citations can be
complementary to other primary research. You must also research at least three more
sources; this makes at least five required sources, although you may research and use
more than that.
Try to narrow your topic and determine your position as you research. You also should
take notes on your sources, so you can easily remember the tone and intent of that
research. Also, be sure to pull out some suitable quotations that you can use to help you
support your debatable “thesis,” or just the opposite, which you can use to discredit your
opponent’s arguments. Next, determine your final thesis and develop an outline.
Remember, this paper, like all research papers, must be documented with a properly
formatted MLA Works Cited page at the end.
Remember that the purpose of argumentation is to convince. The thesis statement, or
proposition, must be debatable. The introductory “hook” must be non-controversial, or at
least not inflammatory. The body paragraphs must contain factual, documented supports.
Remember that the argumentation paper forces you to take a stand on an issue. So in the
body, you may want to “anticipate” an opposition argument. Mention it, but then show
how this belief is incorrect, weak, irrelevant, or not as important as your arguments.
Finally, the method used in argumentation is one of logic and reason.
It is difficult to keep emotion out of argumentation. But it is imperative to stress the
logical and rational if you are to win your reader’s trust, not just their sympathy. How
can we stress the logical instead of the emotional? There are four basic ways.
First is through words. Your wording should be powerful and clear but should not be
emotionally charged. Use connotative verbs and nouns for maximum impact.
Connotative adjectives and adverbs are helpful, but are far less powerful than verbs and
Second, argumentation requires third person point of view. First person, or “I,” adds
to the personal, emotional feeling of the paper. When speaking, this might advance your
argument. But in argumentation, the first person-approach WEAKENS the paper, and is
NOT ACCEPTABLE. Read the “First Person and Third Person” document posted on
Blackboard for examples. The reader can easily dismiss first person arguments as “just one person’s opinion” rather than accepting the factual basis for that opinion. Third
person forces the facts to do the work, instead of the narrator. Second person point of
view, or “you,” must always be avoided when writing argumentation because it assumes
many things about the reader that are not true.
Third, be sure to add plenty of logical, rational examples. In argumentation, the best
kinds of examples involve statistical information, objective examples from life, common
knowledge from your sources, and detailed reasoning. Avoid personal and emotional
anecdotes or what-ifs.
Finally, the order of your supports makes an impact. Begin with the strongest, most
logical reason your reader should be convinced, and work to the least logical or most
emotional appeal. By starting strong, you have a better chance of getting the reader’s
attention and keeping it.
When adding support from your outside sources, remember that you should not start off
your paragraphs with another author’s words or ideas. Use direct quotation and statistical
info from your sources within the paragraph to BACK UP your ideas, not as the opening
topic sentences. Never begin or end a paragraph with a citation! In other words, the
early parts of each support paragraph should introduce that paragraph’s point of support
and explain its reasoning. When you do get around to using your source’s material,
remember that it might be helpful to introduce the author before quoting him/her directly,
but that is only necessary when the author has credibility to the reader. For instance, if
you were arguing that home-schooling is a viable option for parents who are unhappy
with public education today, you might want to add a direct quotation from a Department
of Education official or college admissions officer that favors the abilities of home-schooled children, and introduce the speaker of that quote in your text. About half the
time, use the source’s first and last name and describe their authority before you quote
directly. Consider this example:
Sue Ellen Reed, head of Indiana’s Department of Education, argues that home-schooled
children are often “more self-directed and self-motivated than their public school
counterparts” (Jenkins 4). She goes on to cite several positive examples of the way
home-schoolers function once they reach college.
The above example allows your reader to evaluate the merits of the speaker. The in-text
citation shows that Reed’s quotation was taken from a source with the author’s name of
Jenkins. A full bibliographic entry for that source should appear on the Works Cited
page under Jenkins.
As always, once you have written the body paragraphs for your argument essay, print out
a copy of the draft and read it loud as you critique it. Look at it with the same eyes your
skeptical reader would use. Seek out the flaws and the weaknesses and make them stronger with more explanations and better connections. Remember that often the errors
that do not show up on the computer screen will jump out at you once you read your
writing on the printed page.
1. The basic format for writing research papers is to create body paragraphs that
make a claim, then support that claim with research, then comment on that claim
and research, before transitioning into the next paragraph.
2. Use academic sources only – never use a dictionary or any type of encyclopedia.
No Ask.com or Yahoo answers or other Wiki-style sources.
3. Cite at least one powerful item in each body paragraph.
4. Never begin or end any paragraph with a citation.
5. Cite at least twice from the textbook.
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