Chapter 1: Why do we argue?

Two interrelated functions:

  1. To create knowledge
  2. To Communicate

How well-educated people think:

  • They are careful and take their time making decisions
  • They explain and support their conclusion
  • They know that everyone's perspective is limited, including their own
  • Scholars reshape their ideas by drafting, revising, and getting peer feedback
  • They improve and focus their ideas by
    • finding potential gaps in their argument
    • imagining different audiences and purposes
  • To develop your writing ability, you need four things
    1. Knowledge
    2. Practice
    3. Feedback
    4. Motivation

Elements of everyday arguments can be found in scholarly arguments

  • Scholarly arguments have real purposes based in problems that interest the participants
  • Scholarly arguments address a specific audience
  • Scholarly arguments belong to larger conversations, histories, and contexts that determine the rules for what counts as a good argument

The differences between scholarly arguments and everyday arguments

  • Scholarly arguments pursue ideal purposes
  • scholarly arguments address sophisticated, demanding audiences

To be an effective communicator:

  • Pay attention to:
    • The author
    • His audience
    • His purpose
  • Investigative questions:
    • Who? (Author and audience)
    • What? and How? (Subject matter, argument and style)
    • When? and Where?(Context)
    • Why?(Writer's motivation)

To successfully demonstrate learning:

  • Refer to key terms in the textbook
  • Mention important theories or topics during class

Three basic question:

  1. How do we know what we know?
  2. Why do we believe what we believe?
  3. How can we improve what we know and believe?

Chapter 2: How do we argue?

Arguments can be defined in two different ways:

  1. By their function, or what they do
  2. By their form, or how they're structured

Where do we find arguments?
Catalyst: A gap or imperfection, an unknown answer, or an unsolved problem that matters to the writer

  • All arguments (whether they intend to solve practical problems or simply deepen our understanding of an issue) begin with a question or uncertainty and use some method of investigation and care building to arrive at a conclusion

How do we build arguments?

  • Thesis: an argument's central claim (a debatable or controversial idea that's proposed to an audience)
  • Supporting Claims: claims are controversial or open to question, so they are paired with some kind of support that can be trusted
  • Linkage: an explanation of how a support holds up a claim
  • Implications: the consequences, effects, or larger significance of an argument
  • Evidence: includes anything observable (primary source; something you can collect and analyze yourself)
    • Empirical date
    • Personal experience
    • Textual evidence
  • Verification: includes things that can be looked up (secondary source; someone else has already analyzed of interpreted the evidence)
    • Previous research
    • Law or precedence
    • Established theory
  • Illustrations: involve things imaginable (original source; one you create or borrow for a particular argument)
    • Fictional narrative
    • Hypothetical example
    • Analogy or metaphor

An Everyday Argument

  • Effective arguments always build on some basis of acceptance or agreement
  • Assumptions make up the build of the total argument
  • Arguments that anticipate disconnects - that is, objections and unshared assumptions - have the best chance for changing our audience's mind.
  • Increased controversy requires increased explanation

Three common mistakes and how to avoid them:

  1. Arguing the obvious:
    • Read more
    • Ask an expert
  2. Arguing without support:
    • Highlight your argument
    • Consult a reader
  3. Supporting without arguing:
    • Use topic sentences
    • Search for stranded support

Chapter 3: How do we read arguments?

Why Read?

  • Reading provides most of the information that you write about
  • Reading provides models

Reading Strategies

  • Have a clear specific purpose in mind every time you read
  • You shouldn't read everything the same way
  • Repetition enhances memory

The Reading Process:

  1. Previewing
    • Before you read something, scan the table of contents, headings, tables, images and key words
      • What are the main ideas?
      • What is the writer trying to accomplish?
      • How does this reading connect to the course I'm taking?
    • Then, skim quickly through the whole text
      • Find the main ideas
  2. Reading
    • If you encounter a confusing paragraph, stop.
    • Take notes while reading
    • Write down your reactions to the argument
  3. Reviewing
    • Stop reading and recall what you just read
    • Repetition needs to happen in fairly quick succession after you first learn new material
    • improve concentration by limiting distractions

Reading Rhetorically: Reading to discover how it says

  • Guiding questions of analysis are as follows:
    • How is the argument designed?
    • What choices did the author make in designing the argument?
    • Why did she make those choices?
  • The Catalyst
    • What happened? What is the author responding to? Where did the idea originate? Why did this topic matter to the author?
  • The Purpose
    • Modify the knowledge, beliefs, or behavior of the reader
  • Implications
    • The consequences of an argument

Identifying the controversy

  • Controversy Categories:
    • Existence or fact
    • Definition or interpretation
    • Cause, consequence, or circumstance
    • Evaluation
    • Jurisdiction, procedure, policy, or action to be taken

Guided reading of a scholarly argument

  • Identify the catalyst
  • Identify the central claim
  • Identify the support
  • Identify the linkages
  • Identify the implications

Responding to arguments

  • Play the believing and doubting game
  • Mind and mine the gaps

Chapter 4: What's a good source?

  • Sources help us:
    • Verify whether our work will yield something new
    • Begin collective information to answer our research questions
    • Provide context for our investigation by relating our study to another scholar's work
    • Borrow methods of investigation or theories that worked for other scholars
    • Identify views, assumptions, or conclusions to build on or diverge from

Writing that follows research

  1. Begin with a very specific problem or question
  2. Review scholarly publications
  3. Design and conduct some kind of investigation
  4. Report results of the research
  • Writing typically follows research for experience scholars

Sifting through Sources

  • How do we know which sources are the best?
    1. Stability
    2. Credibility
    3. Reliability
  • Credibility depends on the particular audience and situation
  • How do we find credible scholarly sources?
    • Ask other scholars
    • Explore research databases
    • Search online
      • We ask ourselves:
        • Who wrote this? What makes them credible?
        • What are the authors trying to achieve?
        • How do they support their claims?
        • Is anyone profiting from this? Who? How might money-making efforts influence the content?
        • When was this written?
        • Will this still be here next month?
    • Big topics need big research containers
      • Broad subject
      • Narrowed topic
      • Research question

How do we summarize?

  1. Read the text
  2. Create a "reverse outline," or Schematic, of the text's layout
  3. Select the most relevant points
  4. Write a summary
  5. Revise the summary

How do we Paraphrase?

  1. Read carefully
  2. Think about what it's saying
  3. Rewrite the gist of what the source says
  4. Double check the original
  5. Cite the author

Managing the research process

  • Take good notes
  • Keep meticulous records

Using sources to generate ideas

  1. Play the believing and doubting game
  2. Find a source with which you strongly disagree
  3. Create a table that compares and contrasts your sources
  4. Pair two sources in conversation with each other
  5. Look at one source through the "lens" of another source

Chapter 5: Where Can We Find a Compelling Thesis?

Within every great thesis is a stimulating question

  • How can you develop and argument that experienced scholars don't already know?
    • Keep reading
    • Applying your perspective
    • Making your own luck
    • Challenge yourself
    • Talk with others
    • Try freewriting

Preliminary lists

  • Controversies about existence or fact
  • Controversies about definition or interpretation
  • Controversies about cause, consequence, or circumstance
  • Controversies about evaluation
  • Controversies about jurisdiction, procedure, policy, or action to be taken

The three C's

  1. Challenging
  2. Compelling
  3. Controversial
  • Dig narrow and deep, rather than broad and shallow

Can I change my thesis?

  • Your thesis will ultimately evolve
  • Why would I change my thesis?
    • Settling on a thesis before writing closes off opportunities to learn
  • Writing an evolving thesis
    • To show readers your evolving thoughts
    • To build a complicated argument
    • To develop a controversial argument
    • To keep the reader interested or surprised
  • Bottom line: Wherever you place it, the best thesis is somewhere you arrive, not a place to begin
  • Stay away from Cliched arguments and "interesting" arguments

Infuse a little style

  • We aim for thesis statements that are both provocative and clear
  • Try something unexpected
  • Checklist for thesis statements:
    • Answers a challenging, compelling, and/or controversial question
    • Gets at the heart of controversy
    • Breathes new life into an issue and avoids overused, common wisdom
    • Is appropriate for the arguments audience, purpose, and context
    • Engages readers with specific and interesting content and style

Chapter 6: How Do We Support Arguments?

Kinds of support:

  • Evidence
    • Empirical data
    • Personal experience
    • Textual evience
  • Verification
    • Previous research
    • Law or precedence
    • Established theory
  • Illustration
    • Hypothetical example
    • Analogy or metaphor
    • Fictional narrative

Building Credibility

  1. Verification
  2. Reputation
  3. Presentation

Activating Reasoning or Logic with Evidence

  • Audience respond to evidence more reliably than they respond to credible and emotional appeals
    • Quantitative Evidence
    • Qualitative Evidence
  • Link Evidence to Claims
    • Linkages provide the bridge that connects the claim with the evidence
    • Helps readers see the logical pathway that guides our thinking

Research Methods

  • Interviews
  • Surveys
  • Observations
  • Charts:
    • Line charts
    • Pie charts
    • Bubble charts
  • Your claim can only be as strong as your evidence


  • You can't Forget the audience
    • Why should the readers care?
    • What's the larger significance here?
  • You need evidence
    • What story elements illustrate my message?
    • What details can serve as evidence to prove my point?

Chapter 7: What About Faults and Gaps in Arguments?

Fallacies in Arguments

  • Arguments typically break down in one of three main ways.
  • Through faulty uses of:
    1. Reasoning or logic (activated by evidence)
    2. Credibility (built with verification, reputation, or presentation), or
    3. Emotion (evoked by illustration)
  • Fallacies do not build the best possible case
  • A qualification is a stated restriction that limits a claim's strength
  • A common kind of relevance fallacy confuses correlation with causation
  • Scholars and others who have been well educated about quantitative methods habitually scrutinize scientific findings by asking questions like:
    • How large was the sample size?
    • What is the margin of error?
    • What other variables may be involved?
  • Scholars avoid extraneous information that might distract or mislead their audiences
  • Another relevance fallacy occurs when writers create "straw man arguments" - oversimplified, exaggerated, or simply inacurate versions of opposing arguments to make the alternative perspectives seem weak, foolish, and easily refutable

The Usefulness of Fallacies

  • Fallacies aren't necessarily false
  • You might think of a hasty generalization as a hypothesis worth testing
  • You might notice red herrings as potential issues to investigate further
  • You might use evidence to support an argument that typically evokes only emotion
  • You might search for credible sources to replace the false authorities that a weak argument relies on

Anticipate and Respond to Opposing Views

  • Anticipate objections
    • Walk in the Readers shoes, by asking ourselves:
      • What elements of support are weakest and most vulnerable?
      • What might readers have to say in response? If I were reading this aloud to another person, where might they stop me and say, "Wait a minute! What about _?"
    • Identify potential controversies
    • Play the Devil's (or Angel's) Advocate
      • The believing and doubting game
    • Respond to objections
      • We can concede
      • We can refute

Elaborate to Fill Gaps

  1. Incorporate more examples
  2. Respond to more objections
  3. Relate the argument to real-life contexts
  4. Discuss the larger implications of your argument
  5. Make connections to other related issues

Chapter 8: How do we develop and organize arguments?

  • Put everything in its place for a reason

Organizing Rhetorically

  • Before drafting, we anayze out rhetorical situation and ask ourselves:
    • What is my purpose?
    • What kind of audience will read this?
    • How are the arguments that I've read in this discipline typically organized?
    • Am I conducting original research, such as collecting data or conducting experiments?

Techniques for Organizing You Thoughts

  • Visualize Your Organization
  • Experiement with Maps, Graphics, and Software
  • Create a Reverse Outline

Developing Your Arguments

  • Arguments about Existence and Fact
  • Arguments about definition
  • Arguments about Cause and Consequence
  • Arguments about Evaluation
    • The structure we choose can help promote syhtesis
  • Arguments about Policy
    1. Describes a problem
    2. presents solutions, and
    3. Justifies a course of action

Select Scholarly Arrangements

  • The Scholarly Model
    • This structure is a useful starting point that we approach creatively, adapting the template to out rhetorical situation
    • Introductions
    • Background
    • Support
    • Consideration of alternative arguments
    • Conclusion
  • Scholarly moves
    • Move 1: Start with what others have said
      1. to familiarize readers with context
      2. to verify our assumptions
      3. to demonstrate that we've done our homework
      4. Scholars rarely assert their own position before they've first acknowledged what others have said
    • Move 2: Highlight Agreement before Disagreement
      • Try to build some common ground with our readers
    • Move 3: Put Your Best Foot Forward

Organize Your Revision

  • Add transitions
    • These markers tell readers, either explicitly or implicitely:
      • What's coming next
      • How ideas are connected
      • When a change in subject or tone will occur, or
      • How to interpret the argument
    • To be precise we ask ourselves:
      • How are these claims related? What is their relationship?
      • Are these ideas equal, or is one a subpoint of another?
  • Unify your argument
  • Design your document

Structure Your Writing Process

  • Break the assignment into a series of manageable tasks; then assign a deadline for each task
  • Break long assignment into chunks
  • Get feedback along the way
  • Don't insist on following a fixed or linear plan

Chapter 9: How Do WeUse Sources Responsibly?

  • For Scholars, nearly every paper is a research paper

Write with integrity
* Copying from others denies you the opportunity to learn
* Plagiarism
* Unauthorized collaboration
* Always ask your instructor, in advance, about what kinds of collaboration she allows
* Recycled writing
* You can't learn something new if you don't do the work
* Tips for avoiding plagiarism
* Get to know your honor code
* As you read, pay careful attention to how writers use their sources
* Maintain careful notes as you read and conduct research
* Don't be tempted to write your paper and then go back to fill in the citations
* Don't procrastinate
Quote and Integrate sources
* an introduction
* an explaination

  • Create a conversation
    • Create linkages for the reading by:
      • Why a quote is there
      • What it means, and
      • How it's related to , or supports, our argument
    • Interpret the source
    • Explain how the quotation relates to our argument
    • Tell readers what makes the quotation significant
    • Consider ways to make a source our own
  • Paraphrasing
    • Patchwriting: you can't resuse old papers for other classes

Citing sources

  • Scholars value accurate citations because they illustrate the genealogy of our work
  • How do we know when we need to cite something?
    • Here is the easy answer:
      • Always cite quotations and paraphrases
      • Cite summaries, too
      • Cite statistics, dates, and other details
  • Citation Fundamentals
    • A bibliographic citation includes everything that a reader would need to know to find the exact sources that you used
    • In-text citations appear right next to where you summarize, paraphrase, or quote from your source
      • Author's name(s), Titles, Publication information
    • Keep track of whatever details you or your reader would need to retrace your steps to find each source again

Chapter 10: What About Style?

  • Writing is a series of strategic choices
  • Writing with style
    • thoughtful flexibility: the ability to adapt our voice, word choice, sentence structure, rhetorical effects, and documental design to different situations, expectations, or demands
  • Scholarly style
    • Write compelling prose that cannot possibly be misunderstood
  • Higher order and later order concerns
    1. Perfectionism can cause writers block
    2. polishing can waste time and energy
    3. editing while drafting is less effective
  • Mechanics
    • Errors
      • Errors add confusion
      • Errors deminish credibility


  • Passive Voice: reverse the sentence order, placing object before the verb and subject
  • Many readers prefer active voice because it's usually clearer and easier to read

Clarity and vividness

  • use strong verbs
  • less can be more
  • vivid and precise language

Creative choices we make to improve style

  • Imitation
  • Sentence variation
    • rhetorical variation
    • amplification
    • linguistic variation
    • genre translation
  • figures of speech
    • using them can cause risks like:
      • Reference failure
      • inappropriate style
      • misinterpretation
      • cliches
      • False comparison

Writing in digital spaces

  • how is online different?
    • it is hypertextual
  • Online writing is always public
  • audiences move quickly
  • web is big and noisy


  • Choose appropriate style
    • explicit greetings
    • some introduction
    • an expicit question or statement of what you want or need
    • a polite closing
  • write like it's official

proofreading and editing

  • reading your writing aloud
  • review with others
    • invite a trusted friend, classmate, or writing center tutor to read your work aloud
  • using technology
    • think carefully before you take your word processor's advice
    • be very careful with your word processor's thesaurus
    • use the 'find' function
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