How to Write an Argumentative Essay: Tips from Experts

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Argumentative essay

If you are a high school or college student, you may be assigned to write an argumentative essay as a part of your literature, composition, history or any other class. Therefore, it is essential to know all the basics in how to write an argumentative essay correctly according to the instructions. When you are given a prompt with all the detailed specifics of writing, it may be more apparent how to write an argumentative essay step by step. According to the prompt, you will be asked to consider the two given positions and argue for one of them. If the essay prompt is less specific and more open-ended, then you will be free to choose one of any possible arguments you come across. 

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At the university academic level, the predominant number of essays assigned are argumentative, so if you are a university student and you want to succeed in your writing, you should be aware of how to implement rhetorical analysis of papers as well as how to put forward arguments when it comes to some scientific, fiction or fiction texts. Even if you are not told specifically to provide an argumentative essay but perform some analysis in the form of an article or report whatsoever, you should be well-versed in making some evidence-based arguments. Developing ideas, providing specific arguments, and backing them up with reliable evidence is the essential skill that should be applied when working on critical writing tasks. Therefore, when working on your paper, you need to learn how to work on sources properly and develop a specific solid position on the given topic. Once you have come up with a particular position, elaborated on it, you need to provide arguments in its favor to convince your target readers in your standpoint. All this can be done by presenting supporting evidence, analyzing it, and evaluating the ideas. 

On the other hand, when you are supposed to submit a persuasive essay, but not a merely argumentative one, it would not be enough to present your opinion with some arguments. Even if you structure your ideas properly and make them sound solid and plausible, you will not convince your audience if you do not provide evidence and reasoning. So, if you want to broaden your knowledge concerning argumentative essay writing, read on and find out ways to organize an argumentative paper. 

What Is an Argumentative Essay?

An argumentative paper belongs to the category of academic writing, the main point is for one to introduce a specific argument and present a solid stand on it. If you want to succeed in writing argumentative papers and ensure that your essay deserves a good mark, you need to be aware of some persuasive writing techniques. In other words, you should be able to present your opinion and make your readers accept it. To persuade your readers in the argumentation you provide, you need to provide expert evidence by relying on credible sources. All in all, an argumentative paper is a commonly assigned task for students of different academic levels: from high school and college to Master`s and Ph.D. When it comes to the subjects, it does not matter either what topic the essay is on — argumentative writing tasks are assigned in various disciplines: science, politics, literature, health care, history, technology, and others. 

Please consider that some students tend to confuse argumentative and expository essays. They bear some similarities and, at first sight, may seem the same. However, the former type involves more pre-writing and preparation. For example, whenever you write an argumentative essay on some topic, you need to study the sources carefully, extract the main ideas, and then form them into a solid argument. Argumentative papers are often assigned as some research projects. For example, they can be a part of capstone project writing, GRE or GED tests. 

Argumentative writing usually calls for in-depth research and investigation of the topic. Students need to thoroughly work on different scientific materials, present empirical research and collect data through interviews, observations, and surveys. No matter how much literature a student has to study, it is essential to formulate a clear argumentative thesis statement and be consistent in the logical reasoning provided. 

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Steps for Writing Your Argumentative Essay

If you have never written an argumentative essay before, you will certainly be interested to know how to structure an argumentative essay. So, some of the underlying constituents that you should pay attention to are:

  • a clear and strong argumentative thesis statement;
  • solid reasoning with explicit references to all points mentioned in the thesis;
  • relevant evidence and illustrative examples.

Step 1. Choose a topic and come up with a clear thesis statement 

To develop a proper thesis statement, you need to formulate one or two clear sentences where you convey the central message of your paper. For example, you may mention the main claim, what the paper will focus on, what you intend to investigate, etc. In argumentative writing, a thesis statement is important since it can indicate whether the paper is worth reading to the target audience. As such, it will serve as a brief guideline on your piece of writing. 

In most cases, you may be assigned a specific topic by your professor, but if you have the freedom to pick a topic on your own, be sure to follow your sheer interests. If you are passionate about your topic, it will be significantly easier to go through the writing process. So, as an option, your topic should be related to some issues that you have strong feelings. Still, be sure to investigate the topic thoroughly so that you now only present your opinions but strong evidence. 

Step 2. Conduct research of the ideas and pick reliable findings

If you are personally familiar with writer`s block, you need to know that it stems from two underlying reasons. First, you may have no preliminary research and no former investigation on the topic, and so you will be staring at the blank screen, not knowing what to start. Second, you may experience writer`s block when you have no thesis statement or when it is too weak to be further developed throughout the paper. 

It may be virtually impossible to write a well-structured and well-balanced essay, if you have not carried out ample research. So, you have to look through different sources, such as books, scientific journals, periodicals, websites, documentaries, fiction, blogs, and others. The evidence taken from the sources should be versatile. 

If you are interested in how to write an argumentative essay that is logical and structured, keep in account the following tips:

  • Gather sufficient background information on the topic. You need to set aside enough time for extensive reading to have a detailed overview of the main topics, arguments, and counter-arguments. 
  • Take a look at the given topic from different perspectives. Focus on the one that is close to your mindset. 
  • Pay attention to some gaps in the research or perspectives that have not been widely touched upon by researchers. 

Step 3. Provide an extended outline or a draft of your paper 

This one also belongs to pre-writing steps, and it helps you to see the paper's overall structure more vividly. You brainstorm ideas, organize them, and have a chance to experiment with the order of ideas, change them, and so on.

Argumentative Essay Structure: What to Pay Attention to

When developing an outline, keep in mind that its final version should look the same as your future essay. Specifically, an outline serves as the backbone of your writing. The main difference is that the outline contains only the topic sentences and some basic ideas without delving into details, but the final paper should be enriched with details, examples, supporting evidence, and arguments. The basic elements of an argumentative essay are the following: 

  • introductory paragraph;
  • body paragraphs (introducing 2-3 arguments);
  • counter-argument presented in the final body paragraph;
  • conclusive paragraph. 

The elements of an argumentative essay and their structure may depend on the mode of essay organization: a point-by-point way of organizing or block structure.

essay structure

How to Write a Thesis Statement for an Argumentative Essay 

Before investigating how to structure a thesis statement, it is necessary to find out what it is. In short, it is a condensed version of the main idea of the paper that is presented in one or two sentences in the introductory paragraph. 

A thesis statement is an inherent part of the argumentative essay due to the following reasons:

  • it helps you identify separate ideas and focus then on each one separately;
  • it helps you better structure the very argument; 
  • it presents a so-called roadmap to the paper as a whole. 

If you want to succeed in your argumentative essay writing, it is essential that you ensure such features of an argumentative thesis statement:

  • it should convey the central point of your paper;
  • it should be brief and concise;
  • it should be placed in the introduction;
  • it should present not merely some kind of a narrative idea but an argumentative one. 

You need to realize that a thesis statement is different from an opinion statement since the former puts forward a claim that will further be supported and researched throughout the paper. The basic questions the thesis should answer are «what?» and «why?».

Source: https://wts.indiana.edu/

Source: https://depts.washington.edu/

Argumentative Essay Example

Our Personal Responsibility Towards the Natural World

Natural resources like water, timber, food, and functioning natural systems such as clean water, fertile soils, air, and climate are sustained by biodiversity being vital for the wellbeing of humanity. Scientific research continues to break new ground continuously demonstrating that year after year, the natural world is eroding and incurring great costs to the humanity. Many people rightfully believe in nature’s innate value and the strong moral responsibility of humanity to protect it. This paper discusses our personal responsibility towards the natural world and what we term our natural resources.

The future of the world largely depends on how humanity manages the earth’s natural resources. Ives (58) reports that the way people benefit from ecosystems has dramatically changed over the last sixty years. The main drivers for the changes are population growth, globalized consumption patterns, increased living standards and technological advancements (Ives 58). Various ecosystems continue to deliver certain services well while others are on the decline. Ives (58), therefore, underlines the importance of managing natural resources in a much more integrated manner which could include, for example, linking the existing goals of preserving water, soil, wildlife, and the landscape. Our personal responsibility towards the natural environment could mean developing and supporting local nature programs identifying new improvement areas for our natural resources, coherent ecological planning, and piloting of biodiversity offsets (Ives 59). 

Developing and supporting local nature programs as our personal responsibility of maintaining the natural environment could entail forming groups of individuals who specialize in matters like landscape restoration, coastal or catchment area management, development of biodiversity action plans, and the building of green infrastructure (Ives 59). Local nature programs work at strategic scales and tremendously improve the benefits and services we gain from our natural resources. Such programs reflect on natural features, landscapes, and systems. Where necessary, they often join more widely with cross-boundary issues like landscape scale action for water management, biodiversity, green infrastructure, ecosystem services, and air quality (Ives 59).  

Identifying new areas for improvement of our natural resources has proven to be a window of opportunities and benefits for the ecosystem. To further expand the scope of areas that need improvement, farmers, local authorities, land managers, and others should have easier channels of information that educate them on the ways of preserving the natural environment. This way, the protection and improvement of the environment is sustained under the condition that communities find lasting solutions that address their social, economic, and environmental needs (Ives 60). Coherent ecological planning, on the other hand, guides and regulates human development in certain locations thus preserving the ecosystem. Planning encourages the improvement and protection of natural resources at the same time encouraging human developmental activities (Ives 60).

Piloting of biodiversity offsets safeguards natural resources through the pooling of resources to attain sustainable ecosystems. According to Ives (61), biodiversity offsets are conservation efforts designed to obtain benefits from natural resources while compensating for incurred losses in a measurable way. Good human developments usually incorporate considerations for biodiversity but even this often results in the loss of biodiversity. One way of compensating for this loss, therefore, is offsetting (Ives 62). A developer can compensate for the loss of biodiversity by expanding the existing one or seeking alternative restoration of the ecosystem elsewhere (Ives 62). 

In conclusion, climate change has become the main indicator that we have a personal responsibility for conserving our natural resources. The world’s future depends on how seriously we take our responsibility towards preserving our natural environment. A proper functioning and a healthy natural environment is the key to prospering communities, sustained economic growth, and personal wellbeing. Therefore, all of us have a personal responsibility towards the natural world.

Tips for Writing a Good Argumentative Essay

If you want to know how to write an argumentative essay, check out such suggestions:

1. Pick some controversial or arguable theme, or a topic that you are passionate. When choosing the topic, make sure that it is neither too narrow nor too broad. You need to evoke the interest of your target audience and also make sure that there are sufficient sources available. After that, identify the main goals of your writing, what idea you want to convey, and what purpose you want to pursue.

2. Take a firm stand on the topic, adhere to one idea, and form a thesis statement on the basis of it. Make sure the thesis is arguable and clear: it should confirm some idea or deny it. To make the thesis strong, you need to support it with credible evidence. Provide your observation and continue developing it with your opinion.

Your thesis should be a well-developed sentence, so make sure it is complete. Avoid such common mistakes:

  • writing a thesis statement as a fragment;
  • writing a thesis that is too broad;
  • writing a thesis in the form of a question;
  • writing a thesis that entails merely your opinion;
  • writing a thesis that is too generalized. 

Before writing your thesis statement, investigate your topic thoroughly. To do that, you need to brainstorm the ideas, conduct in-depth research, and identify core messages that you want to communicate across. 

3. Focus on your target audience

You need to take into consideration your readers, specifically their educational and professional background, interests, passions, and other factors. Your paper should be written in understandable language so that your readers comprehend it properly. 

4. Provide evidence in a clear manner

Make sure the evidence and examples are clear and succinct. Besides, they should be convincing and strong enough to be relied. Pick credible sources and ensure they are up-to-date. Considering the types of evidence, you may want to use facts, numbers, statistics, anecdotes, practical cases, some evidence from texts, etc. The most important thing is to use rich evidence from various sources and by different authors. When you cite some sources, make sure the information taken from them is not used out of context. First, you need to introduce the idea properly and indicate how it is presented in a particular source. Second, you need to explain how significant it is so that it is clear why you have decided to focus your attention on it. It is essential to comment on the citation or quote you have extracted from some source. Never use quotes on their own. 

Apart from using evidence, examples, and illustrations to support your main argument of the paper, make sure to support the counter-argument as well. When presenting the counter-argument, you have to appeal to objections, contrary opinions and facts, even question the main argument. To unfold a counter-argument, imagine that your audience is asking questions on the topic. 

5. Write your essay draft

If you want to write a well-structured argumentative essay in English, keep in mind that composing a draft beforehand is essential. Even more than one draft may be needed since you may want to change some topics and parts more than once. Writing a draft enables you to gain more practice in writing, perfect the manner and style of writing, and so on. One of the basic skills you can improve when writing drafts is to structure and organize ideas according to standards. Besides, you can have a clear vision of the whole paper before you submit the final version. You can use transitions and other structures to make the writing more fluent. 

6. Edit your essay draft

After you have written your draft, do not hurry to submit it. If you are interested in how to write an argumentative essay in a quality way, you need to keep in mind that the post-writing stage is important, too. It entails editing and proofreading. With its help, you can improve your essay, critically analyze it, evaluate your writing skills, and even ask for others` feedback. Specifically, you can share the ideas with your family and friends or even ask them to read your paper and provide you with their own opinion. Then it will be your decision whether to accept others` comments and recommendations or not. All in all, you are recommended to take a break between writing and editing. This pause will enable you to take a look at your paper from some distance. 

Hopefully, the above tips and recommendations will come in handy for you and you will manage to get excellent results for your argumentative writing. 

Source: https://slc.berkeley.edu/

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