Ch. 2 Finding Purpose Through Argumentative Writing

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Finding Purpose Through Argumentative Writing By Dr. Thomas Skeen Finding Evidence Introduction Section 2 of the English 105 course materials compared incorporating source material to a frame because the way in which a writer introduces and uses a source helps create a particular angle of understanding for the reader, much like a photograph that includes certain images while leaving other images out. The same principle applies to evidence generally. This section builds on that discussion because a writer must necessarily choose some evidence at the expense of other evidence, and also because using evidence is more about building a good case for an argument and creating an impression for readers than it is about reporting facts. This chapter explains how using evidence is an intellectual process that does not always lead to certainty or to “solid” arguments. The chapter begins with two scenarios that demonstrate this approach to evidence. It then moves to the relationship between writers and audiences and the role that evidence can play in that relationship, the need to “construct” a case by using evidence and to increase the adherence an audience has to a writer’s argument, and some frameworks that explain diˆerent types of evidence and how they might be used. The Nature of Evidence Scenario 1 The results of two scienti|c studies are in con¦ict with each other. In the |rst study, McAuley, Hopke, Zhao, and Babaian (2012) found "no apparent risk to human health from e-cigarette emissions" after taking into account the particular compounds found in e-cigarette vapor that the study measured (p. 850). In the second study, researchers suggested that the pollutants contained in e-cigarette vapor "could be of health concern for users and secondhand smokers" (Schober et al., 2014, p. 628). Before using these studies in a research paper, a writer would do well to answer questions like the following: What were the methodologies for both studies? Did researchers measure the same pollutants in each study? Why else might discrepancies between the two studies exist? Scenario 2 In a published academic journal article, child psychiatrist Andres Martin (2000) used qualitative evidence to convince his fellow psychiatrists to see tattoos as an opportunity to get to know their teenaged patients, rather than as an opportunity to assess the problems they are facing. Martin’s evidence contained no numbers—no statistics, no dollar amounts, and no measurable data. Rather, he used descriptions of two teenage boys, who were his patients at the time, and their descriptions of the tattoos they either had or were planning to get. Exercise 1 1. What is your initial reaction to Scenarios 1 and 2? 2. Would you be willing to use any of the studies cited in the scenarios in your own research writing? Why or why not?
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