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This presentation will help new students to construct an argument in their work

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  1. 1. Study skills Building an argument
  2. 2. Introduction If logic and reasoning are the tools, a proper concise argument is the product. This series of slides will attempt to inform you of the basis of a proper argument.
  3. 3. What is an argument? • Presenting effective arguments is at the heart of good essay writing – in almost every essay you should aim to make an overall point in response to some issue or debate. • That doesn’t mean you have to argue for something you don’t believe in. • Strive for accuracy and make claims, however small, that you can justify as a result of your research/paper.
  4. 4. Reading the opposing argument • Read the literature and start thinking critically about what you are reading: • Do you agree? • Why? • Do you disagree? • Why? • When you are reading [an argument] look for points which you think you can refute. • Most importantly try to figure out his/her central point (what the piece is trying to convey). • This is extremely important in constructing an argument as this helps you refute the core of the piece rather than limiting your self to refuting certain points of it.
  5. 5. Thinking It starts with the question: • ‘Are you able to argue against the central point or refute certain points of the argument?’ • Asking do you want to/able to go against the papers argument, or do you completely agree/concede with the paper? • If the answer is no - but you still want/need to write an argument, you can write several supporting points that other papers have missed, or you state your own thesis on the subject at hand [reinforcing this with relevant academic material]. • If the answer is yes – then move to the next step in the thinking process.
  6. 6. Evidence/support • This is critical in an argument. If you don’t have it, your argument has no basis [it is merely an opinion]. • Good evidence if often objective in nature. Objective means that statements can be verified and tested to see its merits. • For example – we know that gravity exists because if we drop an object it will fall. • Often a good argument will consist of several pieces of evidence.
  7. 7. Organise your thoughts • Once you have your opinion, and your evidence its time to organise your thoughts. • It can be useful to put these ideas into a table which categorises your thoughts and research
  8. 8. For Topic How alike? How different? In what regard? Against
  9. 9. A good argument not only considers the points to refute, but also points that may be made to refute your own argument (counter arguments)
  10. 10. Consider the following • Identify your core concern – what is the essence of your argument – its major points? • Investigate other thinkers and researchers in the area. What possible answers might you arrive at? • Sequence your work – whatever suits you (bullet points, spider diagram, pictures etc.) • Summarise your arguments briefly – possible using no more than a single line. You may be able to use this as a thesis statement later.
  11. 11. The central parts of an argument 1. Premise – a proposition which gives reasons, grounds, or evidence for accepting some other proposition, called the conclusion. 2. Conclusion – a proposition, which is purported to be established on the basis of other propositions
  12. 12. Question • If a tree falls in a forest, but no body is around to hear it does it make a sound? Proposition 1 – No it makes not sound. Proposition 2 – Yes it will make a sound. Reasons, Grounds and Evidence?
  13. 13. Another model Claim The tree makes no sound Reason Reason Reason Facts,facts,f acts,facts,fa cts,facts,fact s,facts,facts, facts,facts,fa cts,facts,fact s,facts Facts,facts,f acts,facts,fa cts,facts,fact s,facts,facts, facts,facts,fa cts,facts,fact s,facts Facts,facts,f acts,facts,fa cts,facts,fact s,facts,facts, facts,facts,fa cts,facts,fact s,facts Counter argument Counter argument Counter argument
  14. 14. Structure The following points are a useful guide to writing up your argument in a clear and structured way:
  15. 15. First • State your argument clearly and early on in your work. What are you setting out to prove? This will tell your reader where you are heading with your argument and will immediately grab their interest. This is a thesis statement.
  16. 16. Then • Set out the structure of your work, demonstrating concisely how your work will be structured.
  17. 17. Next • Give the background to your work and set out any relevant definitions – do NOT assume that your reader will be familiar with them (remember the aim is to demonstrate your knowledge and research skills).
  18. 18. Finally • Fully detail any theoretical underpinnings and why you have used them (e.g. writing from a feminist/utilitarian/sociological perspective) this will depend on the purpose of the paper and the subject matter.
  19. 19. Example This essay discusses issues of discrimination relating to adults with disabilities in Wales, and will draw upon the legislative and cultural, to examine this topic. Although there are many and varied manifestations of disability, this assignment will primarily focus on persons with physical impairments. Reference will be made to the multifarious nature of discrimination and the meaning of power, discrimination and oppression, from the perspective of service users, will also be comprehensively addressed. The essay begins with a comprehensive definition of discrimination and describes how the term need not always, according to Thompson, (2006) be negative.
  20. 20. Remember! Back up your argument throughout your essay with relevant data, examples and academic work in order to provide a balanced, well rounded and informed discussion that looks at your topic from varied angles.
  21. 21. For your conclusion, return to your original argument and place it firmly into its final context, stating your conclusions boldly.
  22. 22. Example In conclusion then, it is clear that in Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government is fully engaged with issues relating to equality and diversity. It actively seeks to encourage organisations to promote anti discriminatory practice in accordance with its Code of Practice (2002) through the provision of appropriate and sensitive services that are needs-led, rather than resource driven. The legislation formulated to counter discrimination helps to ensure that those in our society who are disadvantaged, whether that be through physical or mental disability, are provided with opportunities to achieve their goals and ambitions. We have also seen that whilst power is a complex issue it can be seen as a creative as well as a controlling force and can serve to maintain equity between professionals and those with disabilities. Clearly then, difference is something to be valued positively and the unique nature of individuals and groups with physical disabilities should always be accepted and respected. (Social Care Institute of Excellence, 2006) (Extracts adapted from an essay by anonymous student, 2008)
  23. 23. Developing your arguments How to present an argument in an essay
  24. 24. 1. Stating your point of view early in the essay and presenting a clear rationale to support it. Your point of view should be a consistent one throughout the essay. 2. Offering reliable evidence or examples to support your argument. Reliable evidence is evidence that you have read in reputable and authoritative texts, articles, newspapers, Internet sites etc. 3. Showing where this evidence has come from: by citing your sources and listing all your sources in the reference or bibliography section at the end of the essay. 4. Showing that you are aware of, and have considered arguments that are counter to your own. You will need to summarise counter arguments in a clear, accurate and undistorted way in your essay 5. Being able to show why you have decided that the arguments that you have chosen to advance are more convincing for you than others.