What are the Guidelines on How to Write an Argumentative Essay?
An argumentative essay typically requires a writer to argue out a case or position on a particular topic based on supportive evidence. The responsibility of the writer is to conduct thorough research on the topic and use relevant evidence and sound reasoning to support the stated position. An argumentative essay further requires a clear thesis.
Know the Purpose of the Argumentative Essay
To write a good argumentative essay, you have to understand its purpose. The purpose of an argumentative essay is to investigate an issue or topic, assess available evidence, and use the evidence to establish and support a position on the topic. To achieve this objective, you have to evaluate available evidence from multiple perspectives and identify the position to take, before utilizing the evidence to support the taken position.
Understand the Argumentative Essay’s Methodology
Essay methodology refers to the structured process of producing a research paper. This process varies depending on the purpose and topic of the argumentative essay. A competent process of writing the essay begins with the writer’s identification of an appropriate topic and purpose for the paper.
A well-written argumentative essay tackles a refined topic, in terms of addressing a particular aspect of a broad topic. The narrowed focus of the essay enables the writer to develop a strong argument while reducing the risks for inaccuracies and illogical arguments.
Be Familiar with the Opinions You List
One of the biggest mistakes that students make in writing their papers is failing to familiarize themselves with the expressed opinions of different authors. When outlining your points of view, ensure that you understand the subject matter and the opinions of authors effectively. This is because it is difficult to complete a competent argument based on incomplete knowledge.
If the instructions require a personal opinion on the topic, use phrases such as “In my perspective”. Phrases such as “common belief is that” could apply to refer to the opinions of others in your argumentative essay.
Understand the Argumentative Essay’s Outcome
Understand the intended outcome of your essay. Regardless of the topic of the essay, it should focus on answering the following questions: “What do I seek to achieve by writing this argumentative essay?” “Are my intended goals of writing achieved?”
Choose a Topic When Writing the Argumentative Essay
The topic that you choose when writing an argumentative essay must be relevant. Choose a topic that you are interested in and spend a lot of time researching about it before you begin writing. Avoid topics that are too common and choose a topic that fits the intended audience for the essay.
Argumentative Essay Topic must be Arguable
Your topic should be arguable. At times, you may not necessarily agree with the topic or issue that you have chosen to discuss. Center your research and argument on different viewpoints to make the argument complete.
Examples of arguable topics could be:
“Is the Canadian election process fair?”
“Does Canada have a fair taxation system?”
Argumentative Essay Topic should be Easy-to-research
The supporting evidence for the chosen topic should be easy to find. The most common sources of information are the library and the internet. Avoid a topic with little research evidence. An example of a suitable topic is: “Benefits of mobile banking”.
Keep Your Target Audience in Mind
Know your audience since the experiences and backgrounds of people affect their interpretations and perspectives regarding an issue. Your topic should be relevant to the group of readers that you are targeting. The language used ought to reflect the values of the audience. In writing the essay, ask yourself the following questions: “What first impression will my essay have on my target readers?” “Will they relate to the arguments in the argumentative essay?”
Gather Ideas for Writing the Argumentative Essay
Besides brainstorming on your own ideas, you can rely on other information sources such as the library or the Internet to collect data. Gather the data from reliable and up-to-date internet sources or books. Use the sources to collect different points of view regarding the topic you chose for your essay.
Use Scholarly Publications as Sources
To improve the quality and credibility of the information found in an argumentative essay, students are urged to use scholarly works for research. These works are usually the result of scientific investigations and specialized knowledge in a particular academic field. They also incorporate evidence obtained from laboratory tests or other statistical data collection methods.
If you choose to incorporate quotes in your writing, source them from scholarly publications. To improve the accuracy of the sourced information, do not rely on common published blogs. Ask yourself this question: “Is the scholarly article or book relevant to my essay?”
To brainstorm ideas for your essay, you must have entirely understood the topic. Brainstorming in this case entails developing your own original ideas for a particular issue of discussion. It also entails collecting your thoughts and using them to generate concrete content. An unexplored and unique viewpoint is valuable in reflecting on available evidence to yield a good essay. You can brainstorm ideas through these three simple steps.
List your Argumentative Essay the Ideas
Note down any idea that crosses your mind when thinking about the topic. You can write the ideas on a piece of paper or type them in your personal computer. You can choose not to arrange them in any particular order because they are likely to be in abstract form. Do not use informal abbreviations like “e.g” to refer to the phrase “for example” and “&” for “and”.
Short lists are easier to incorporate in your essay. An example of a short list in a sentence is: “The scientist used a scissor, masking tape, handheld magnifying glasses and a burner to carry out the experiment.” For long lists, choose to use bullets and capitalize the first letter of every stated point.
Evaluate your Argumentative Essay Ideas
Come up with different courses of action or solutions that can be adopted to solve the issue at hand. Carefully evaluate any idea that you have chosen to include in the paper. Ask yourself, is this idea worth it? Does it focus on addressing an issue?
Use criteria such as “fair”, “specific”, “balanced” and “lasting”, to scrutinize your ideas. Develop ideas in your writing to make them as practical as possible. Examine your ideas critically to determine those that you think are suitable for addressing the topic.
Structuring the Argumentative Essay
To structure your argumentative essay correctly, design an outline that will guide you through the writing process. This outline will also enable you to avoid including unnecessary information in the body of the document. It will allow you to focus on generating content of high quality. An essay basically comprises of a title, introduction, body, conclusion and reference sections.
The title should bear the implicit or explicit question. The essay’s main focus is to answer the question. Give an interpretation of the title in the introduction section. State the issues that you will explore. What will your focus be? What will your paper depict? Include a thesis statement.
Develop and explore your ideas through paragraphs. Use 3 to 4 paragraphs to develop a topic and provide reliable evidence and examples. Give the reader explanations of what each paragraph is about. Explain what your pieces of evidence or examples are about. Try to explain how the paragraphs relate to the essay title. Ensure that there is cohesion or flow between the paragraphs.
Do not introduce new material in this section. Give a summary of your argument/ideas. Restate your essay’s main points. Give a clear explanation on why the conclusions are significant or important. Link your recommendations or conclusions to the main title in the last sentence.
Use a recommended referencing system, such as the Harvard Referencing System. Ensure that you include a list of articles or books referred to in your paper.
Argumentative Essay Title
Create a catchy, imaginative, and original title to hook the reader to read your work. Good titles act as a preview of what readers should expect from an essay. Take time when coming up with one because it lays a foundation for your paper. Listed below are the crucial qualities that your title should have.
Argumentative Essay Title Should be: Eye-catching
Most people prefer reading essays with catchy titles. This is because the title is the first thing they notice when reading the work. Include an interesting headline that will draw the reader’s attention.
For example: “The Exciting Evolution of Social Media: A Comprehensive Study on How Social Media Platforms Affect Our Interpersonal Interactions.”
Argumentative Essay Title Should be: Accurate
The title must give people ideas of what they are going to read in the paper. Its accuracy ensures that it does not mislead the readers. The title’s accuracy also determines the overall quality of a paper.
Argumentative Essay Title Should be: Believable
While choosing an eye-catching title, ensure that it is practical. Your readers are likely to be disappointed if the title does not portray what you write in the essay. An example of an eye-catching title is: “Mastering the General Rules of Online Dating: How to Create an Outstanding Online Dating Profile.”
Argumentative Essay Title Should be in: Active Voice
Verbs used in your title should always be in the active voice. For example, instead of saying: “Is poverty in the society caused by poor governance”, your title should read “How does poor governance contribute to poverty in the society.”
Argumentative Essay Title Should be: Easy to Read
Readers are more attracted to essays with easy-to-read titles. Don’t use sophisticated structures, uncommon fonts, and strange words or phrases in the title. Your essay should be comprehensible for its intended audience.
An example of an easy-to-read title: “Income Generating Bitcoins: How to Set up a Bitcoin Wallet for Investing Purposes.”
Argumentative Essay Title Should be: Brief
Try to keep your essay’s title as brief as possible to demonstrate your writing skills. Long headlines are boring and confusing to read. They may also discourage the readers from going through your writing.
An example of a brief title: “The Pros and Cons of Using Mobile Payment Solutions in Your Business.”
Argumentative Essay Introduction
The introduction needs to include background information about the topic. Its purpose is to familiarize readers with the topic. Make it brief but interesting since it is meant to attract your audience to reading your work. Here’s an example of the introductory paragraph for an essay whose topic focuses on cyber security challenges in third world countries and how to solve them:
“As third world countries like Kenya are struggling with economic crises, cyber security challenges seem to have a toll on their finance allocations. According to a World Bank report on how Kenya is losing millions of dollars in cyber-attacks, these challenges can be mitigated through good governance. The report also suggests that governments of third world countries need to invest heavily in modern Internet technologies.”
Include a thesis statement under the introduction section to briefly make a claim regarding your essay’s topic. It should guide you in creating a manageable and interesting argumentative essay. It should also agree with the title chosen for your paper.
Make it clear and concise with the objective of explaining to the reader the main point and its relevance. The thesis statement may take several forms in your paper. These forms include claim of cause, a claim about policy solutions, a claim of value, and a claim of definition.
Claim of Cause in Argumentative Essay Writing
A claim of cause and effect is used when describing a thing or event caused by another thing or event. This claim should always be debatable. For example, a writer could argue about the negative effects that television has on family members.
The claim of cause or effect may be written as: “Television has always had a negative impact on family life since its inception. The form of media keeps family members apart instead of bringing them close when they need each other’s support. Television also eats up family time. Nowadays, kids remain locked in their rooms watching movies or playing video games. They even skip meals in the process.”
Claim of Policy Options in Argumentative Essay Writing
A claim of policy options is used to argue on the need to change the way things are done. It is also referred to as a claim of solutions. It works together with the claim of definition or fact. This type of claim can be used in a paragraph explaining the thoughts of a psychiatrist on addiction.
For example: “It is difficult for us, as a society, to fully recover from an addiction if we fail to accept that we have it. Accepting this harsh reality is essential for recovery. We must work together to formulate solutions that will help those battling with addiction to overcome substance abuse.”
Claim of Value in Argumentative Essay Writing
A claim of value is used to describe the worth of how certain things are viewed. It can also be used to give arguments that make evaluations of a certain topic. As a writer, you can make this type of claim by using words such as superior or best to put emphasis on someone or something.
An example of an argument with a claim of value is as follows: “As one sociologist puts it, most students do not understand the reason why they were enrolled in college. The reason we go to college is to gain insights on our preferred career paths. It is high time students realized what they are doing in learning institutions.”
Claim of Definition in Argumentative Essay Writing
A claim of definition is used to argue the need to change the ways of defining a term or idea. When using it to structure an argument, choose a fact or definition that is debatable. The example listed below is for a claim of definition. The piece argues about media portrayal of recovering substance abuse addicts.
“I am not what the media says. I am not a dangerous human being. My house is not filled with prescription and recreation drugs. I’ve been going to the rehabilitation center to seek professional help. I have also been adhering to the guidance I was given at the center.”
A strong thesis statement focuses on making a claim regarding an arguable topic.
For example: “Excessive use of plastic bags in Canada is currently the major barrier to effective solid waste management, and, thus has an influence on environmental pollution.”
A weak thesis statement on the other hand fails to highlight a debatable issue.
For example: “Unregulated disposal of plastic bags is a problem today.”
Body of an Argumentative Essay
The body should outline your points of view comprehensively. Strive to give readers your own point of view regarding a particular subject matter. Use powerful and tangible evidence to support any claims you make.
Organize Your Argumentative Essay Arguments
Be sure to discuss all the aspects of the issue. Focus on organizing your argument in this section. Don’t include flawed arguments in your paragraphs since they may ruin the credibility of your writing.
An example of a flawed argument is:
“The US federal government seeks to adopt new taxation policies. Citizens of the country are likely to pay less taxes.”
These sentences fail to provide an argument for a topic of discussion that is taxation. Its revision will read as:
“As the US federal government seeks to adopt new taxation policies, it should consider the needs of the taxpayers. This is because the taxation policies target the taxpayers who have a right to be involved in any amendments.”
Include all Relevant Information on the Argumentative Essay Topic
Don’t omit information that is of value to the chosen topic. Ensure that any new information that is added in your paper is relevant to the topic of discussion. Your goal should be to provide the readers with reliable knowledge. As a writer, you should always incorporate the skill of judging relevance throughout your articles.
For you to judge the relevance of the information you wish to include in your argumentative essay, ask yourself the following question. “Is the argument or point of view relevant to my essay’s topic?”
Use Counterarguments While Writing your Argumentative Essay
Use counterarguments throughout your essay’s body. Counterarguments in this context refer to ideas or arguments that are at odds with your points of view. For example, if your arguments are based on the negative effects of littering, you can use a counterargument to state the positive effects of littering.
In this case, you may write: “Through littering, jobs are created. These jobs are focused on ensuring that the environment stays clean”.
Use Clear Explanations in your Argumentative Essay Writing
Give the reader clear explanations on why you think your points of view are accurate and logical. You can mention a survey or study done by a certain research institution to support your claims.
For example: “According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2017, third world countries like Kenya are at a higher risk of facing global warming. Among the factors that make these countries vulnerable to global warming are industrialization and deforestation. The WHO report also pointed out that stringent measures regarding environmental conservation need to be put in place to curb these effects of climate change.”
Include All Viewpoints in your Argumentative Essay Writing
All viewpoints should be included throughout your argumentative essay. You should state them clearly. Do not implicate opposing viewpoints as wrong since this may alienate the readers you are targeting.
When including personal points of view in your paper, use phrases like “in my experience”, “I believe that” or “I would say that”. For general points of view, include phrases like “general opinion is that” in your writing. When agreeing with an opinion, use phrases such as “I concur with” or “I agree with”. Phrases like “on the contrary”, “it is unjustifiable to say that” or “however” can be used when you disagree with an opinion.
Argumentative Essay Writing: Conclusion
Persuade your readers to support your points of view using the conclusion. This section is useful for restating your arguments to them. Ensure that you also restate your thesis and review all your points in this section.
Incorporate a strong conclusion to make a good impression on the readers. Conclusions are meant to summarize all the points and sub-points of an essay. An example of a strong conclusion is as explained below:
“Getting a well-paying job is among the goals most people would like to achieve as soon as they finish college. However, for them to achieve this goal they need good grades and several years of experience as explained above. When applying for the job, they need to draft a cover letter and send it together with a well-written CV. All these initiatives are geared towards enabling people to become the best candidates for certain job opportunities.”
Cite the Sources of the Argumentative Essay
Cite the sources of information used in your paper as a way of giving credit to other people’s ideas. Use quotation marks when you quote an idea from another source. Ensure that you mention the name of the person whose idea has been quoted. Include a bibliography at the end of your paper to briefly list the information sources. Adhere to the following guidelines when citing the sources used throughout the essay.
Avoid Plagiarism Errors in your Argumentative Essay Writing
Failing to properly cite your research sources is regarded as plagiarism. Your professor may reject it if the content is plagiarized. For instance, a sentence of an article you used to guide your research may read as follows:
“Most college students fail to understand the importance of seeking internship in the course of their education.”
A paraphrased version of this sentence should read as:
“One of the biggest mistakes that majority of college students make is failing to understand why they should seek internship opportunities before they graduate.”
Stick to One Referencing Method in your Argumentative Essay Writing
The most commonly used referencing styles for academic writing are Harvard and American Psychology Association (APA) referencing styles.
The APA referencing method for a book with one author should be structured as follows:
Author Name (Year). Title of the Book: Its Subtitle. Place it was Published. Publisher’s Name.
An example of APA style in a bibliography:
Doe, J. (2016). Finally Famous: A Guide on How to Achieve Mainstream Success in the Music Industry. New York City: Manhattan Press.
Use Quotations for In-text Citation in your Argumentative Essay Writing
Use quotation marks (“”) around the exact words that you have referred from someone else’s work. For example: “The Nile River’s ecosystem is purported to have “exotic” and “breathtaking” living organisms by zoologist Lamar Wilder.”
A reference list or bibliography should always appear at the end of your paper. It should provide brief details about the author whose works inspired your essay. These details must be listed in alphabetical order and include the following:
Authors’ Names in your Argumentative Essay Writing
The names of the author or authors of a book or article you read while writing your paper should be included in the bibliography. The first letter of each name should be in capital letters. For example: “James Baldwin & Gregory F. Wilder.”
Title of the Sourced Material in your Argumentative Essay Writing
The title of the books, blogs or any other material that you used to research for content. Regardless of its length, the title must be included in its entirety. An example of a book title is “Adapted Minds: Why We Are Who We Are”.
Publisher Information in your Argumentative Essay Writing
The name of the publisher should appear in the bibliography. This is applicable to books, journals or magazines that have publishers. Be sure to list the names and precise locations of the publishers of the research materials used to guide you when writing an argumentative essay. For example: “Oxford University Press.”
Date of Publication in your Argumentative Essay Writing
It is important to acknowledge the date in which a particular book, journal or magazine was published. Be brief when including publication dates of the materials in the reference list. An example of a properly formatted date is “July 25, 1998”.
Page Numbers in your Argumentative Essay Writing
For information sourced from a journal, book or magazine, include their exact page numbers. If the material has editions or series of publications, do not forget to mention them. For example: “Adapted Minds: Why We Are Who We Are, p. 56”
Edit Your Argumentative Essay
When editing your work, rectify grammatical errors such as the use of wrong parts of speech in the paper. Rectify citation and subject-verb agreement mistakes. Correcting these mistakes enhances the readability of your work and your credibility as a writer.
How to Avoid Grammatical Errors in Argumentative Essays
You should note that grammatical errors make your work to look unprofessional and sloppy. Go through your work and correct any spelling mistakes that you find. When writing your argumentative essay, ensure that it is free from these types of mistakes.
An example of a grammatical error that is as a result of using the wrong verb tense:
“Michael eat his lunch hurriedly.”
Here’s its revision: “Michael ate his lunch hurriedly.”
How to Avoid Sentence Fragments in Argumentative Essays
Sentence fragments affect the quality of your work. Sentence fragments are incomplete phrases (missing a verb or a noun) or thoughts. Make sure that all sentences used in your paragraphs are free from grammar errors and are complete.
An example of a sentence fragment without a subject is as follows:
“Invented the cure for the medical condition.”
Here’s its revision: “The doctor invented a cure for the medical condition.”
An example of a sentence fragment without a verb is as follows:
“The newly purchased broom.”
It should be written as: “The newly purchased broom was used to clean the classroom.”
How to Avoid Parallelism Errors in Argumentative Essays
Parallelism errors may also be termed as errors of reasoning. For example, this sentence is flawed in reasoning: “All doctors must have attended medical school, therefore doctors must be graduates of medical school”. It should read: “It is compulsory for anyone who wants to become a doctor to attend medical school.”
How to Avoid Subject-verb Agreement Errors in Argumentative Essays
Proofread your work for subject-verb agreement errors. These errors occur when a certain subject is used incorrectly with a verb. For instance: “we cares” instead of “we care.”
How to Avoid Citation Mistakes in Argumentative Essays
Be sure to check the citations used in the entire essay. These citations should be formatted properly to allow the readers to get the referenced information. Failing to edit the citations may have an impact on your credibility as a writer. This is because you will have failed to give credit to people whose works guided your paper.
An example of a common citation mistake when using APA style is as follows:
(Michael and Daniel, 2012)
Here’s a revision: (Michael & Daniel, 2012)
Here’s an example of a citation mistake made when including multiple in-text citations:
(Jane, 2014; Thomas, 2011; Sheila, 2016)
Here’s a revision: (Jane, 2014; Sheila, 2016; Thomas, 2011)
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