Key Elements of a Strong Academic Argument Essay (explained in detail below):
Claim statement – clear, specific, debatable
Good reasons that can be expanded upon and explained
Evidence – reliable, credible testimony, facts, statistics, etc.
Appeals – based on emotion, character, and logic (pathos, ethos, logos)
Counterargument – an acknowledgement of the opposing views and refutation of them, reasons why your views should still be the stronger views to hold
Strong conclusion; careful editing and proofreading
While your textbook offers some great ideas and insights for argumentative writing, this document serves as a brief guideline of the essential elements that should be included in every argumentative essay you write in this class. A significant part of the grade for each essay will be based on the successful inclusion of the following components. The are various components while doing a structure for academic argumenta writing. This is also referred to as argumentative writing.
Every essay you write in this class needs to showcase your ability to write persuasively. It’s all about improving your rhetorical strategies so that you can argue effectively. The term “rhetoric” means “the art of persuasion.” While each essay will focus on a different genre of argumentative writing, all of them should be written with the primary goal being to convince your readers (a general, educated audience of diverse people) to see the situation the way that you do and agree with your main claim. The claim has to be in line with the adopted structure of academic arguments writing.
Therefore, the first (and arguably the most important) element of your essays should be your CLAIM statement. Usually, the claim is written as the last sentence of the first paragraph. Sometimes you may want to begin your essay with a personal story or appeal of some sort to grab readers’ attention, though, so in that case the claim may be in the second paragraph. You do not want readers to get far in the essay without knowing exactly what you are arguing and which side of the issue you are advocating.
The CLAIM statement should be clear and specific. It’s important to narrow the claim sufficiently. Claims must be debatable. They cannot be a statement of fact or a statement that someone could not disagree with. The claim is your first chance to begin to persuade readers, and you cannot persuade them if your claim is something the vast majority of your readers already agree with. For example, your claim shouldn’t be that “child abuse should be illegal” because the majority of people will already agree with that (though you could argue that “spanking” should be illegal) or argue about the nuances of defining “abuse” or even “child.” It’s much more interesting to argue something controversial! You could even argue the opposite side of what you really believe just to practice your rhetorical skills and stir up some interesting debates. Generally, though, the best claim will be one that you really believe in and feel passionate about. Whatever your claim is, be sure it is persuasive and argumentative. More information about what makes a good claim and what is not a valid claim is detailed in the documents for Exercise 2.
The body of your paper will primarily explain the GOOD REASONS you have for your claim. Why is it that you are choosing to be on this side of the issue? Explain your reasons to your audience so they clearly see your point of view. Your claim and reasons should be supported by relevant, credible EVIDENCE. Convince readers to agree with you by providing them with evidence that shows you are a knowledgeable authority on the topic and you have a strong understanding of the issues involved. You can use any evidence you find compelling; for example, facts, statistics, expert testimony, etc. You should also use APPEALS to help persuade readers. There are three main types of appeals: emotional appeals (pathos); appeals based on character (ethos); and logical appeals based on facts and logic (logos). Your textbook has entire chapters dedicated to these appeals, so that’s a good source for more details and ideas for using appeals effectively.
should also be included in each of your argumentative essays. Basically what this means is that you should be able to anticipate what people who oppose your view will say and refute it. In other words, think through what the other side of your claim is and think about why people might hold that view instead of yours. Then explain why your stance on the issue is still the best one to have. The two main types of counterargument are concessions and qualifiers. Sometimes you have to concede a point or qualify a point by saying that in most situations or some situations the opposing view may have some validity; however, you should never lead readers to think that the opposing arguments have more credibility than your own claim. You just want to let readers know that you understand why people might disagree with you and you have considered the points they might argue against you, so that you can show why those points still don’t change the claim you are making. The videos discuss counterargument, and I will post some links to podcasts and/or links that will help explain it better later in the semester also.
Finally, your conclusion should leave readers with a strong impression. You want them to put down the paper understanding what your stance is and why you have made it so that they will be inclined to agree with you or at least think about the points you have made.
Use qualifiers in your language – you never want to say that all people (or groups of people by race, gender, socioeconomic background, religion, etc.) do, think, feel, or believe one thing or another; instead, use words like “some,” “most,” “many,” and similar words that leave room for the exceptions.
Remember that your audience is general, so you want to reach the maximum number of people without being exclusionary; in other words, respect people’s differences. Remember to perefect the Structure of Academic Arguments while doing your assignment.
Don’t be afraid to get personal with your readers! Often, the more people can relate to you, the more convincing you will be. You cannot use 2nd person “you,” in academic writing, but I’m one of those odd English teachers who believe it’s perfectly fine to use first person “I,” “we,” etc.
Always proofread and edit your work! An argumentative essay full of errors loses credibility regardless of whether you have made good points or not.
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