PS101.102.ERP.3 - How to Make an Academic Argument (From...

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How to Make an Academic Argument (From UNC) Argument What this handout is about This handout will define what an argument is and explain why you need one in most of your academic essays. Arguments are everywhere You may be surprised to hear that the word "argument" does not have to be written anywhere in your assignment for it to be an important part of your task. In fact, making an argument—expressing a point of view on a subject and supporting it with evidence— is often the aim of academic writing. Your instructors may assume that you know this and thus may not explain the importance of arguments in class. Most material you learn in college is or has been debated by someone, somewhere, at some time. Even when the material you read or hear is presented as simple "fact," it may actually be one person's interpretation of a set of information. Instructors may call on you to examine that interpretation and defend it, refute it, or offer some new view of your own. In writing assignments, you will almost always need to do more than just summarize information that you have gathered or regurgitate facts that have been discussed in class. You will need to develop a point of view on or interpretation of that material and provide evidence for your position. If you think that "fact," not argument, rules intelligent thinking, consider an example. For nearly 2000 years, educated people in many Western cultures believed that bloodletting —deliberately causing a sick person to lose blood—was the most effective treatment for a variety of illnesses. The "fact" that bloodletting is beneficial to human health was not widely questioned until the 1800's, and some physicians continued to recommend bloodletting as late as the 1920's. We have come to accept a different set of "facts" now because some people began to doubt the effectiveness of bloodletting; these people argued against it and provided convincing evidence. Human knowledge grows out of such differences of opinion, and scholars like your instructors spend their lives engaged in debate over what may be counted as "true," "real," or "right" in their fields. In their courses, they want you to engage in similar kinds of critical thinking and debate. Argumentation is not just what your instructors do. We all use argumentation on a daily basis, and you probably already have some skill at crafting an argument. The more you improve your skills in this area, the better you will be at thinking critically, reasoning, making choices, and weighing evidence. top
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Making a claim What is an argument? In academic writing, an argument is usually a main idea, often called a "claim" or "thesis statement," backed up with evidence that supports the idea. In the majority of college papers, you will need to make some sort of claim and use evidence to support it, and your ability to do this well will separate your papers from those of students who see assignments as mere accumulations of fact and detail. In other words, gone are the happy days of being given a "topic" about which you can write
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PS101.102.ERP.3 - How to Make an Academic Argument (From...

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