How to Write an Argumentative Essay: Tips from 7 Experts

How to Write an Argumentative Essay: Tips from 7 Experts

One of the most complicated aspects of writing an argumentative essay is separating the writer's opinion from credible facts.  Many students find it difficult to keep their own opinions out of their argumentative essays.  What a student may feel is a well-written argumentative essay can receive a failing grade if certain precautions are not taken to ensure that the opinions of the writer do not seep into his or her writing.

Although an argumentative essay is likely developed because of a certain opinion that the writer holds, no actual opinions can be included.  An argumentative essay is a compilation of credible facts and research about a subject which supports the argument of the writer, but that are not opinion-based.  This means that although the writer might be using an opinion or belief as a springboard for his or her argument, that argument has to be solidly backed by more than just those opinions and beliefs.  

Argumentative essays are often based on controversial topics.  This makes sense because, after all, if everyone agrees on a topic, there is little to argue about.  After reading an argumentative essay, the reader might continue to disagree with the argument of the writer, but the point of the article is not to convince the reader that the writer is right, but to present a well-rounded, logical, and rational discussion of the topic.  

An argumentative essay never says "I believe" or "I think," but, instead, makes assertive and definitive statements such as "Funding for the nation's banks support the economy by ensuring the continued stability of the nation's financial foundation."  Once the statement, or thesis, has been made, the rest of the argumentative report should be used to support that statement by presenting credible evidence that backs up the statement and explaining how, indeed, the evidence does support the statement.  It is not good enough to merely present the facts.  The writer must tell the reader how those facts support the thesis.

In addition to presenting credible evidence that back up the thesis, a student has to ensure that the argumentative essay is written in a credible tone.  Argumentative reports should never sound as if they are lecturing the reader or belittling anyone who holds a position contrary to that presented.  An argumentative report should instead present the facts in as unemotional way as possible in order to appear trustworthy, professional, and, above all, credible.

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An argumentative research paper is a text that uses published scholarly studies and opinions to attempt to persuade the reader to assume a particular position on an issue.  Therefore, an argumentative research paper topic should not only be a subject on which the writer has an opinion, but also a subject on which there is scholarly research.  For example, selecting the existence of life after death as an argumentative research paper topic would likely not be a good idea, because it would be difficult to obtain scholarly research on that topic.

Argumentative research paper topics differ from typical research paper topics in that the subject of the argumentative research paper must usually be an issue rather than a phenomena, event, or theory.  For instance, one could not write an argumentative research paper on principles of engineering, because there is no argument to make about the topic "principles of engineering."  Good argumentative research paper topics are arguable, specific, and clearly defined.  They should also be narrow enough to fully argue in the span of a college report.  

The first step to selecting an argumentative research paper topic is to determine a particular area or issue of interest.  Many argumentative research paper topics are controversial and therefore challenging to write about persuasively.  Therefore, the writer should sincerely care about the topic he or she chooses in order to enthusiastically argue for her position.  

Once a student knows the general area in which he would like to write, he should determine one division of that area that he cares most about.  For instance, if the student decides he wants his argumentative research paper topic to be on something regarding the United States prison system, he would need to narrow his topic to one aspect of the prison system, such as healthcare in prisons or education in prisons.  These are clearly defined topics that a student could write about in the span of a college report.  Next, the student should develop a thesis statement out of that topic.  A thesis is a sentence or group of sentences that express the writer's opinion or interpretation of the topic.  For instance, this writer may develop a thesis that says "The education system currently in place in most U.S. prisons does not provide most inmates who choose to use it with the skills needed to enter into college."  This statement expresses an opinion and also narrows the topic even further by tying the primary topic—education systems in prisons—to a sub-topic—former prisoners' ability to enter into college.

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An argumentative term paper is a lengthy, usually investigation-based document that attempts to demonstrate the superiority of a stance or position.  Argumentative term papers are popular assignments in a variety of disciplines, as they require learners to think critically and creatively, take a stance, and implement advanced rhetorical skills to persuade readers of the validity and superiority of that stance.  Argumentative term papers are different from argumentative essays primarily in length and the incorporation of data collection.  Argumentative essays may or may not require the inclusion of secondary sources.

When writing an argumentative term paper, a student must consider the ways in which he or she is going to persuade readers of the superiority of his or her position.  One of the primary ways of doing this is to convince the reader that he or she is an authority on the topic.  This can be effected in a variety of ways.  One way the writer can be authoritative is by incorporating a panoply of impressive and valid research.  Sometimes this research takes the form of facts and statistics; others, it is in the form of the opinions or findings of advanced scholars.  Some argumentative term papers make use of both statistical information and scholarly opinions.  Using various secondary sources that support the writer's position make the writer seem informed, which lends the writer credibility.

Another way of establishing authority is through asserting the writer's intimate experience with the subject.  For instance, if the writer were writing an argumentative term paper advocating for the popularization of a controversial medical procedure and that writer had used and benefited from that procedure, he or she would have authority based on personal experience.  

Writers of argumentative term papers can also establish authority by demonstrating their familiarity with the logic and emotions of the opposition side.  Argumentative term papers must anticipate the ideas of their opposition and attempt to address those ideas in the course.  It is often an effective rhetorical strategy to concede the merits of those opposing ideas but then explain why those ideas are still inferior to the writer's.  This establishes the writer's authority by demonstrating that he or she has thought extensively about the issue at hand, has fairly considered the merits of both sides, and then made a careful decision to be in favor of the stance he or she is advocating.  

If a writer can establish authority, then her readers—whether for or against her ideas—are more likely to consider her arguments.  Therefore, writers of argumentative reports should carefully consider the ways in which they will be authoritative advocates of their positions.

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From elementary school to the upper echelons of a university education, nearly every student will be called upon to write an argument essay during the course of his or her academic career.  Without a doubt, the argument essay is one of the most challenging, but fun, essays to write.  Still, many learners find it difficult to write good, let alone great, argument essays.

An argument essay is not merely a compilation of facts.  Those facts must support the argument itself.  The writer must use facts and research, not opinions, to establish a connection between his or her statement(s) and the evidence presented in the argument article.  For this reason, argument essays have to be logical presentations, not emotional arguments.  Although the writer may indeed be passionate about the topic, the report has to remain logical.

Many students fall short when writing argument essays because they fail to fully make their point.  That is why it is important to use rational reasoning, to connect each point to the argument itself, and to use credible references and language throughout the course of the argument article.

Like any academic paper, an argument report should have an introduction which gives an overview of the topic and which contains a clear and rational thesis statement.  In an argument essay, this thesis statement is the argument itself.  The body of the document should contain the facts which support the argument, followed by a conclusion which restates the thesis and concludes the argument.

Each body paragraph of an argument report should contain at least one supporting point and a thorough reasoning as to why the point supports the thesis.  It is also a good idea to include a bit about how the supporting point refutes the opposition.  However, it is important to note that some instructors might want students to focus on only one side of an argument or the other rather than using their argument essay to present both sides or even include any refuting evidence in their document.

The conclusion of an argument report should never include new information.  It should only summarize what has already been presented within the body of the argument essay and connect the dots between the thesis statement and the evidence.  Since the thesis statement is often considered the most important sentence of any report or essay, it should be restated in the conclusion.  A conclusion can also include a call to action or emphasize the need for further investigation into the topic.

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An argumentative research paper differs from a typical research paper only in that it seeks to advance a particular viewpoint or position on an issue.  Frequently, research papers report on various findings and ideas related to a single topic in order to present a thorough and objective overview of scholarly commentary on that particular topic.  In contrast, an argumentative research paper uses research to defend a distinct perspective or idea regarding a topic.

Argumentative research papers are similar to persuasive essays in that their ultimate aim is to convince the reader of the author's perspective.  However, whereas a persuasive essay often relies on the author's own ideas and logic as the primary persuasive tools, an argumentative research paper uses sound scholarly literature as evidence to supports its claims.  Writers of argumentative reports should take care to maintain a scholarly tone when presenting their argument and avoid incorporating the use of personal anecdotes and unsupported claims.  

When writing an argumentative research paper, it is imperative to assert a clearly-defined argument that can be reasonably defended using peer-reviewed research.  For instance, a research paper arguing for the existence of a supreme deity would be difficult to defend, because there is not a body of accepted, peer-reviewed research presenting scholarly evidence on either side.  To write a paper on the existence of a supreme deity would be a theoretical or philosophic undertaking, and would be excellent for a persuasive essay, but would not meet the requirements of an argumentative reference project.

Once a clearly-defined argument is determined, extensive research should be undertaken to investigate the claims and research existing on both sides of the argument.  An effective argument addresses the likely rebuttals of its opposition holders; therefore, it is necessary to investigate arguments on the other side of the chosen position and suggest why those arguments fail to persuade.  This often involves pointing out how the opposition research is in some way faulty or incomplete.  

Argumentative reports should include a variety of evidence; two or three research studies supporting a perspective are not enough to argue cogently about a topic.  Remember—the argument is based in research, and therefore must present itself as a credible, thoroughly considered argument based in facts, not opinions.  In order to do this effectively, the author must present a document that shows extensive investigation into the topic at hand.

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The "essay argument" is the single thing that a writer is trying to prove or disprove.  In many cases, the thesis statement within the report provides the actual essay argument in a clearly-stated form.

An essay, unlike many other academic writing assignments, requires students to research a particular topic or subject and come up with their own ideas about the topic or subject.  Therefore, essays are often very subjective and provide a point-of-view of the pupil.  

Some essays, such as response essays, will require learners to compare their own thoughts and feelings to those thoughts and feelings that were presented in a particular work or idea.  In such a situation, learners will need to understand the thought or perspective first before they can respond to it.  Once they understand it, students need to reflect on how that thought or idea impacts their own view of the situation.  In such a situation, a report and the report arguments are very subjective.  

Essay arguments can only be written once a student has drawn his or her own conclusions about a topic.  In many ways, an essay argument is the conclusion itself.  For example, if the topic of a report is slavery and the purpose of a report is to explain how slavery was a global phenomenon, then the report argument should clearly state that slavery was a global phenomenon.  The essay argument may be clearly stated as the critical assertion, such as, "If slavery existed in one culture, then it existed in varying forms in all cultures throughout time."

The essay argument provides the purpose.  Therefore, in the above report argument, each paragraph of the report must explain a different reason or example of how slavery was common in all cultures in all eras throughout time.  Essay arguments must be supported throughout the document.  

Many essay arguments are summarized by the thesis.  In such a case, the report argument is clearly stated for everyone reading the document.  However, there is a clear distinction between an essay argument and a subject.  Many people confuse the subject of the report with the thesis or the argument.  

Essay arguments are statements or ideas that a learner will prove in a thesis.  However, the subject of a thesis merely provides the topic and forum for which students to explore ideas.  The subject for a thesis does not provide enough information for the student to state an opinion.  However, the report argument will provide the thrust for the document in which the learner will share his or her opinion.

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Writing an argumentative essay requires doing an extensive amount of research regarding a topic that is controversial in nature.  In order to successfully learn how to write an argumentative essay, it is important that you understand the topic thoroughly, including the facts and opinions that support the opposite opinion that you will be writing about.

One of the most important components of writing argumentative essays is determining the topic you will discuss.  The topic must be one that is debatable but that still offers a great deal of facts and data to back up your opinion.  Similarly, if you are writing an argumentative essay for a class, you might want to stay clear of topics that are "overdone," such as gun control and abortion.  Rather, try to think of a fresh topic that your teacher likely has not seen many times before.

After determining the topic of your argumentative essay, you will need to conduct an extensive amount of research on the topic.  In essence, you need to become an expert on the subject, which includes becoming an expert on the opinions that support the opposing view.  By doing so, you can develop arguments to contradict those opinions or to prove that there is more data to support your point-of-view.

One mistake that many people make when writing an argumentative essay is using the first person, which means they use the word "I" in the report, or wavering on their opinion.  It is important that you do not concede to the opposing viewpoint.  Similarly, rather than stating "I believe animal experimentation is cruel," it is far more powerful to say "Animal experimentation is a cruel practice that must be stopped immediately."  By stating it in a factual manner rather than as an opinion, it carries more weight and has a greater impact upon the reader.

Once you have chosen your topic and thoroughly researched the matter, it is time to begin formulating the document.  In your first paragraph, you should provide an introduction to the article that includes a thesis statement, which is the one sentence that describes what the report will be about.  You should also write something that will grab the reader's attention, such as a shocking fact that supports your thesis statement.

The next paragraph or two of your argumentative report should then describe the historical record of the problem.  These paragraphs might include a brief discussion on the attempts that have been made to resolve the issue.

Following these paragraphs, you will then devote one or two paragraphs to discussing the extent of the problem.  This might include a discussion as to who is affected by the problem and how bad it really is.  The following paragraphs should then follow up on this discussion and tell the reader what could happen if the problem is not effectively resolved.  Make sure you have been citing references, facts, and data throughout the body of your essay in order to support your argument.

Your conclusion will then wrap up the document.  Be sure to restate your thesis and summarize what you wrote, while also leaving a lasting impression on the reader.

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