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A Brief Guide to Writing Academic Arguments

Stephen Wilhoit

Chapter One: Academic Arguments


What are the three main goals of academic arguments? Explain, Persuade, Mediate Context matters: the rhetorical situation
Compositions are always SOMEONE writing SOMETHING for SOMEONE

The Rhetorical Writing Situation


Writer-Expertise, Qualifications, Author Opinion Audience-Prior knowledge, Hostile Audience?, Adjusting to the audience Topic- Writers focus, Exploration, Writer/Audience Background, Shaping Argument Occasion-Why this argument?, Context, Relevant to other arguments? Purpose-Persuasion, Knowledge (self, topic), Mediation, Search for Truth

Effective Academic Arguments


Clear & Precise Well Supported Properly Qualified Placed in Context Voice and Tone Follows Established Conventions

Chapter Two: Persuasive Academic Arguments


Logic (Logos) Emotion/Values (Pathos) Credibility (Ethos) Logic & Toulmin Claim-Assertions Grounds-Evidence Explanations-Connection of grounds & claims Qualifications-Limitations of claims Rebuttals-Strategy

Pathos: Consider content & language-their feelings, emotional response, appeals and alienation? Appeal to readers Feelings & values Fears & concerns Emotional needs/Self-esteem

Ethos: Your credibility-Prove it: Knowledge of topic Accurate writing-qualified claims/accurate use of sources/Credible sources/Proper Quotationcitation/langugae,grammar, mechanics, punctuation Be honest and fair Follow conventions

Logical Fallacies
LOGOS-Hasty generalization, False cause, Appeal to ignorance, Non Sequitur, Begging the question, Straw man, False dilemma PATHOS- Bandwagon, Slippery slope, Scare tactics, Appeals to sentiment, Appeals to tradition ETHOS-Ad hominem attacks, Poisoning the well, False authority, Dogmatism

Chapter Three: Reading Academic Arguments Critically Approaching critical readings:


Summarize, analyze, critique What are some prereading strategies? Reading strategies? What are some steps to analyzing an argument? What are some steps to evaluating arguments?

Chapter Four: The Role of Claims in Academic Arguments


A Claim: An assertion you want your readers to accept and perhaps act on; often your thesis What kind of claims work and dont work for an academic argument? What makes claims effective? Three types of claims: Simple, Compound, Complex Remember the 5 Rs: Research, Reflection, Rebuttal, Rehearsal, and Revision

Chapter Five: Supporting Claims


Reasons, evidence, and values X is the case because of Y How do you determine which reasons to include in your argument? Independent vs. interdependent structure Types of Evidence in academic argument: facts, examples, stats, expert opinion, interviews, surveys, observations, experiments, personal experience What makes evidence persuasive? What is the role of beliefs and values in supporting arguments? What are examples of beliefs and values you might not have to support?

Chapter Six: Explaining Your Argument


Connect claims, reasons, and evidence: Explain your reasoning process, justify your assertions, elaborate on your evidence, explicate your thoughts, and address possible exceptions to your claims. Courtroom Drama: (YouTube clip) What typically needs explanation? How do you explain reaching one conclusion and not another? What are some common methods used to explain arguments?

Chapter Seven: Qualifying Claims and Rebutting Opposition


Why do you need to qualify claims in academic arguments? When in the writing process should you begin addressing the opposition? Why is it important to address opposing views? How do you anticipate and then rebut opposition to your argument?

Chapter Eight: Working with Sources


Sources: Provide background information, support claims, present opposing views, and improve ethos Techniques for integrating source material: summarize, paraphrase, or quote from readings What makes for a good summary? What are the steps to writing a summary? When and why do you paraphrase material? What are the qualities of a good paraphrase? How do you paraphrase material? When and why do you quote material? How do you quote material? How do you avoid plagiarism? Common forms of plagiarism?

Chapter Nine: Working with the Visual Elements of Academic Arguments


Why is it important to understand visual elements of arguments? How do visuals function in academic arguments? How do we read visual texts critically? How do you work with pictures, drawings, and diagrams in your own arguments? How do you use and read tables? How do typographical features change the rhetorical message of a document?

Chapter Ten: Writing Arguments: An Overview


What is the suggested three-stage process offered for writing academic arguments? Why is it important to consider the rhetorical situation of any given assignment? When working with an open topic, how do you choose a topic for an argumentative essay? How do you narrow and focus your topic? How do you investigate your topic through research? What is a thesis statement? What makes an effective thesis statement? What are the processes of crafting a thesis statement? How do you organize an argument? About drafting and revising an argument

Chapter Eleven: Writing Definition Arguments


What are the different types of definition arguments? How do you write the different types: A stipulative? Categorical? Consider which type of definition argument you will be writing for this assignment and how you will plan, structure, and write the argument.

All info from Stephen Wilhoits A Brief Guide to Writing Academic Arguments (2009), Longman.