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Academic Writing. Turn and Talk How do you begin the process of researching and how do you effectively write a persuasive argument?

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Presentation on theme: "Academic Writing. Turn and Talk How do you begin the process of researching and how do you effectively write a persuasive argument?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Academic Writing

2 Turn and Talk How do you begin the process of researching and how do you effectively write a persuasive argument?

3 Academic Writing Goals Academic Writing Goals I can effectively begin the research process. I can purposefully write an argument. I can thoughtfully write a counter-argument. I can accurately cite sources in my writing. I can create a bibliography for my writing.

4 Where to begin Start with an Essential QuestionStart with an Essential Question Evaluate – make a thoughtful choice between options, with a choice based upon clearly stated criteria Synthesize – invent a new or different version Analyze – develop a thorough and complex understanding through skillful questioning

5 Essential Questions The essential question sparks our curiosity and comes from a deep wish to understand something which matters to us. Answers to essential questions cannot be found, they must be invented. People construct their own answers to make their own meaning from the information they have gathered. They create insight.

6 Prime Questions Why do things happen the way they do? This question requires analysis of cause-and-effect and the relationship between variables. It leads naturally to problem solving or to decision making. How could things be made better? This question is the basis for problem-solving and synthesis. Using questions to pull and change things around until a new, better version emerges. Which do I select? This question requires thoughtful decision-making, a reasoned choice based upon clearly stated criteria and evidence.

7 What to search for as support If your question addresses a historical issue, you might look at reference works, books, scholarly articles (in print or online), and primary sources such as speeches. If your question addresses a current issue, you might turn to magazine and newspaper articles, web sites, government documents, discussion groups on the Internet, and possibly opinion surveys that you conduct yourself.

8 The Thesis Once you have read a variety of sources and considered all sides of your issue, you are ready to form a tentative thesis: a one sentence statement of your central idea. The thesis expresses not just your opinion, but your informed, reasoned judgment.

9 Brainstorm and Focus What should the audience/reader do/feel/believe? Who are the major players on both/each side and how did they contribute to? Which are the most important? What was the impact of? Can I compare? How is X like or unlike Y? What if? Can I predict? How could we solve/improve/design/deal with? Is there a better solution to? How can you defend? What changes would you recommend to? Was it effective, justified, defensible, warranted? Why did this happen? Why did it succeed? Why did it fail? What should be? What are/would be the possible outcomes of? What are the problems related to? What were the motives behind? Why are the opponents protesting? What is my personal response to? What case can I make for? What is the significance of ? Where will the next move(s) occur? How is this debate likely to affect? What is the value, or what is/are the potential benefit(s) of? What are three/four/five reasons for us to believe?

10 The Argument What is an argument and why do you need one? Making an argument – expressing a point of view on a subject and supporting it with evidence – is the aim of academic writing. If you think that fact, not argument, rules intelligent thinking, consider this. At one point, the great minds of Western Europe firmly believed the Earth was flat. They assumed this was simply fact. You are able to disagree now because people who saw that argument as faulty set out to make a better argument and proved it.

11 Making a claim 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. When beginning to write a paper, ask yourself, What is my point? If your papers do not have a main point, they cannot be arguing for anything. The teacher will be looking for two things: 1. Proof that you understand the material AND 2. A demonstration of your ability to use or apply the material in ways that go beyond what you have read or heard.

12 Evidence Do not stop with having a point. You have to back up your point with evidence. The strength of your evidence, and your use of it, can make or break your argument.

13 Counterargument One way to strengthen your argument and show that you have a deep understanding of the issue you are discussing is to anticipate and address counterarguments or objections. By considering what someone who disagrees with your position might have to say about your argument, you show that you have thought things through. You must not only present your side convincingly, but you must also show why the arguments of the opposing side are less convincing.

14 Example Argument The primary focus in medical end-of-life decisions should be on patient consent, rather than doctor intention, because it is not a breach against a patient's rights if s/he consents to the termination of their life. Counterargument Terminally ill patients are likely to be depressed, and therefore unable to consent to their hastened death in a balanced or acceptable way. Response to Counterargument Depression can be managed. The relevance of depression must be made on a case-by-case basis. Depression does not warrant a general rule prohibiting patients from consenting to a hastened death. The counterargument is presented fairly and merit is acknowledged, leading to the modification of the original position.

15 Example Argument The primary focus in medical end-of-life decisions should be on patient consent, rather than doctor intention, because it is not a breach against a patients rights if s/he consents to the termination of their life. Counterargument Allowing voluntary euthanasia will result in less respect for life (for example in a greater tolerance of non-voluntary euthanasia), and this is to be avoided. Response to Counterargument Evidence from the Netherlands shows that liberal euthanasia laws do not lead to an increase in non-voluntary euthanasia; if anything they lead to a decrease. Respecting individual choice might lead to greater respect for life, not less. Sometimes you will make no concessions at all to a counter-argument. You will simply show it to be unjustified or irrelevant.

16 Counterargument Phrasing Effective counter-argument is an essential component of building a convincing argument. So, how do you go about phrasing your counter argument? Many writers are successful at reminding the reader very briefly through the use of effective paraphrasing and quotations. Be sure to present the key phrases that indicate the counterargument before presenting the evidence or reasoning that refutes the point.

17 The best for last When you present reasons to prove your point, present the weakest argument first and save the strongest argument to use right before the conclusion.


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