Today we’re going to talk about argumentative writing. An argumentative essay is a genre of writing in which the author investigates a topic, collects, generates, and evaluates evidence, and establishes a position on that topic that they can clearly communicate to the reader.
Argumentative writing is often confused with persuasive writing, when the author tries to convince the reader of their opinion. Argumentative writing is a bit more balanced. In an argumentative essay, the author is weighing both sides of the issue. An argumentative writer likely has their own opinion that they will present, but they’ll produce ample evidence on the opposing view as well.
Argumentative writing is very commonly assigned as capstone work in doctorate research programs. It calls for extensive research and often requires the author to collect fresh data through interviews, surveys, observations, or experiments. This isn’t merely an expository essay where the author reads a few articles and shares what they’ve learned. Argumentative writing must be backed up by extensive personal and collaborative research.
The structure of an argumentative essay is as follows:
First, there should be a clear, concise, and defined thesis statement that occurs in the first paragraph of the essay.
The author usually sets up their thesis statement by explaining the context and reviewing the topic in a general way. Next, as in all writing, the author has to explain why the topic is important. In other words, why should the reader care? Then comes the author’s thesis statement.
After you’re done with that, you should turn your attention to the body of your essay. The body should be chock-full of good evidence. Each paragraph should in some way connect back to the thesis statement, even when presenting differing points of view. It is considered bad form for an argumentative essay to exclude evidence that doesn’t back up the author’s thesis. Rather, the author must step to the plate and explain why he or she considers that evidence to be ill-informed or out of date.
Any shift in argumentative writing should be connected by a clear transition. Say you’re talking about the dangers of populism, and you want to tie in the nationwide debate surrounding trade tariffs. You should clearly explain why you think the two are connected; otherwise the reader might feel like they’re ping-ponging from subject to subject without any real purpose.
The final element to good argumentative writing is—you guessed it!—the conclusion. This shouldn’t simply restate the thesis, but should readdress it in light of the evidence provided. Ideally, this is where the reader will have his or her “aha” moment. Whatever confusion they had at the beginning of the written work should now be clearer in light of the author’s careful study and explanation.
If you’re planning to tackle argumentative writing, it might be helpful to think of your essay like it’s a conversation or debate with a classmate.
Firstly, you should avoid snide or derogatory comments, because that would automatically make your classmate distrust your motives. Additionally, you should make a strong statement and take time to study the other side before adding your own opinions.
Let’s say you and a classmate are talking about the problems with school politics and the ways you think they should change. If you spend all your time talking about the problems and only give a little bit of time to the possible changes, your argument could seem petty and inconsequential. It’s important for you to offer helpful solutions and answer your classmate’s objections.
Do the same thing with your argumentative writing. Establish a thesis, research it thoroughly, and when you write make sure to address all sides and offer a point of view after considering the evidence.
So that’s an overview of argumentative writing, see you guys next time!