C. Munzenmaier Hamilton College Urbandale, IA

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You may have seen the Monty Python skit in which two men get into one of those "'did too' 'did not!'" discussions. What is the difference between an argument and a contradiction? As explained in Temple University's FAQs about argumentation:

  • An argument . . . typically has an architecture of “supports”—the reasons we believe what we believe—and these supports are explicitly stated as part of our argument.
  • Academic arguments...include an explicit discussion of opposing arguments, as well. Our arguments will be more convincing if...we have at least considered alternative viewpoints...; the most convincing arguments are those that persuasively demonstrate why the opposing viewpoints are mistaken.

So to make an academic argument, you take a stand, support it with evidence, and show why your stand makes more sense than an opposing viewpoint.

Still think you're not the type to argue? Check out Overcoming Arguer's Block.

The strategy of acknowledging opposing arguments (and then rebutting, or proving them wrong) is called counterargument. You'll need to use it in your research paper for CM220.

To argue well, you'll also need to provide evidence to support your arguments.

If you're really skilled in argument, you'll take time to analyze how your audience might react to your evidence.

Class Materials

The Argument Clinic

Organizing notes: directions (.doc); notes (.doc)

Test Your Thesis (.doc)

Writing Argumentative Essays (PPT)

Recognizing Deceptive Arguments (.doc)

Research Paper Rubric (.doc)

Argument Revision Guide

Internet Resources

Overview of the Research Paper (Bailey, Ch. 19)

Introductions to Research Papers (CEU)

Developing a Thesis

Developing a Thesis (tutorial takes you step-by-step from topic to thesis; U Wisc—Madison)

 Developing a Thesis (tests for a good thesis from St. Cloud U)

How to Write a Thesis Statement (Indiana U—Bloomington)

Developing Your Thesis (Dartmouth)

Online Thesis Builder (Tom March's Electraguide)

Defining a Position (thinking through your position; resolving contradictions)

Organizing an Argument

Fear Not the Introduction (get started by skipping the introduction; Tina Blue)

Elements of Argument (thesis, organization, supporting evidence)

Counterargument (turn against, turn back)

Ways to organize an argument, including Set Up/Reject, Comparison, and Hybrid (or combination) forms from L. Weinstein

The Basic Principles of Persuasive Writing (UBC Writing Centre)

Thinking Strategies and Writing Patterns (U Maryland)

Planning Your Argument (OhioLINK)

Make an Outline Online (Tom March's Electraguide)

Paradigm Online Writing Assistant

Description of a Persuasive Essay (step-by-step guide)

Essentials of Effective Persuasive Essays
(by two Hamilton College, NY, students)

Developing a Logical Argument

Argument (includes making a claim)

What Is an Argument? (appeals to logic, emotion, ethics; counterargument)

Recognizing Deceptive Arguments (InfoWrite)

Identifying the Argument of an Essay: A Tutorial in Critical Reasoning

Being Logical (Darling)

Model Papers

Model Paper: Lund (snowmobiles should be banned in Yellowstone; uses MLA style)

Model Paper: Sangvhi (snowmobiles should not be banned)

Model Paper: Daly (drivers' cell phone use should be regulated; uses MLA style)

Model Paper: Levy (drivers' cell phone use should not be regulated; uses MLA style)

Models from L. Weinstein, including Set Up/Reject, Comparison, and Hybrid (or combination) forms

Additional Argument Models (APA style)

Advanced Resources

Temple University resources on argument, including "So What Is an Academic Argument, Anyway?"

Strengthening an Argument (tipsheet from University of Houston, Clear Lake)

Organizing Your Argument (PPT from Purdue's OWL)

Terms in a Toulmin Argument (claim-support-warrant)

Copyright in these materials belongs to C. Munzenmaier © 2007.
Teachers and students are free to reproduce them for nonprofit educational use. 



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