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How To Write An Argumentative Paper

Initial Considerations

An argumentative paper, as in any piece of writing meant to communicate with others, must first of all take into consideration the target audience. Who is the reader? Therefore, before you move on,clearly understand who your specific target is or at least identify the principal target. Next, it must be understood that the objective of dissertation writing an argumentative paper is not to persuade or influence an audience through rhetoric or emotional pull. Rather, it should be to lay before them the grounds for a fair and reasonable consideration of a problem or issue. The paper therefore, must be heavily into analysing the topic supported by as far as possible credible evidence. No personal opinions please. There may be situations where you may not even agree with the problem statement. Therein lies the challenge of being objective and carrying out the task without a hint of bias.


The Key Elements

There a number of elements that can be included in writing an argumentative paper. However, their inclusion or omission will depend on say whether it is a complex or simple paper. Generally it may be made up of five key elements. These are ;

1) Topic 2) Background 3) Reasons 4) Objections and alternatives 5) Responses

The above can be organised in a number of ways. Having said that, it must be noted that a brief and simple argumentative paper may be made up of only the bare minimum elements which are: thesis, context and supporting reasons.

A Bit More On The Key Elements

1. Topic
It must be specific. Avoid broadly stated problems or vague issues. Drill down as much as you can. Doing so will enable you to be better able to argue or debate the topic.

2. Background
Here,you need to give some background about the problem or issue. What and how much will depend on who your target audience is.

3. Reasons
What are the reasons for each of the arguments? How can they be substantiated?

4. Objections And Alternatives
This is where you need to ask the question "how would someone disagree with the topic, reasons or argument?" How would I convincingly present the reasons or arguments against the disagreements? You may anticipate the possible diagreements or you may even get someone else to do it.

5. Responses
In your argumentative paper you would have taken a position. There would be disagreements on this position and the reasons given. How would you address them? You may have held the position that so and so was a good leader and substantiate that position. The counter argument may be that that person was a womaniser. How do you respond? Perhaps you could respond that the womanising did not affect his political leadership and provide the required evidence.

Organising The Paper

You can organise an argumentative paper in several ways. However, no matter how you do so,it is important that you use some indicators to help the reader to stay focussed. You could use numbering or suitable wordings to do this. In doing so you would, for example, be able to refer a particular response to a specific disagreement. In addition to this, you need to state your position right at the beginning or at the introduction to your paper. It may be done by firstly stating the problem or issue followed by what is the position you are taking with regard to the topic. In terms of structure you could start by clearly stating the issue, declare your position, argue your position, identify the objections, give your replies to the objections, provide an alternative argument for your position taking into consideration the objections, present an objection for the alternative argument and follow-up with a reply to the objection cited.

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