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How to Construct a Solid Argument

How to Construct a Solid Argument

On a very fundamental level, academic writing is argumentation; a successful essay, it therefore follows, is an effective argument. Many components go into a solid argument. One such is sound reasoning. The purpose of argument is to convince the reader of a specific point of view. An argument will only be convincing if it is logical; and this touches upon every level of composition. Accordingly, you need to arrange your overall argument in a logical order; and the individual components of these arrangements must obey their own internal logic. One very common way of doing this is to divide your essay into relevant and logically coherent sections (Abstract, Introduction, Literature Review, Argument Body, Conclusion); this allows for a chronology of information that lends itself to a critical train of thought. The order in which you present information is important because that order suggests certain interpretative vantages to the reader. For instance, it is logical to introduce your argument before you presents its findings; for, without context, these findings will not be comprehensible. In the same way, if you do not present the reader, at the right time and in the right way, with the information that is necessary to follow your argument, you will not mount the most convincing case.

One of the most useful critical approaches in constructing a solid argument is the circumspect use of referencing. You do not want your essay to be full of unsupported assertions, for this would render the argument weak. Unfounded claims amount to little more than surmise and thus have no place in argumentation proper. You are far more likely to convince a reader, with evidence than with conjecture; by producing relevant information and drawing logical conclusions from this information. This will necessarily involve critical thinking; the laying out of premisses and the deductive or inductive inferences available thereby. By using formal logic, you will be able to reach reasonable conclusions. Demonstrating your analytical processes to the reader will allow them to follow your thought. If your reasoning is solid, the reader is likely to agree with it. In addition, making sure your argument is well referenced will afford you a massive advantage, as will the ability to express yourself clearly. The more effectively you are able to convey information, the more readily the reader will understand your points. If the reader understands your argument, they are far more likely to be convinced by it. A solid argument, then, is expressed with clarity. Such clarity is achieved via short, simple sentences. Avoid convoluted prose. Complexity of sentence structure is not the same as complexity of thought. Rather, the complexity of your argument will be reflected in the sum of your many clearly conveyed and precisely expressed points.

Now that you are familiar with the formal compositional attributes of a sound argument, it is useful to think a little more in the abstract. You need to decide upon the best line of approach in order to argue your case. A glaring sign of poor argument is where the author’s intended point is not clear. This can be a difficult issue. You may not know from the outset of an essay exactly where you stand. Furthermore, the writing process will bring forth its own critical revelations that colour and perhaps even reshape your own position. For this reason, composing more than one draft is imperative. Think of the first draft as a means to clarify and crystallise your own argument; the second draft will be the place to consolidate this argument. The more drafts you do, the more opportunity there is to solidify your approach. You want to think tactically about this. Consider whether the best approach is to affirm your position or refute the counter argument. Usually, a tightly argued essay will do both. Hence you want to identify weaknesses in opposing arguments and reiterate strengths in your own stance.

Finally, a powerful and convincing argument will be hammered home with a solid conclusion. The conclusion is where you will draw together all the various threads of your argument through one analytical hoop and demonstrate the comprehensive logic of your case. Because the conclusion is the final thing your reader will encounter it will inflect their overall impression. Here is a good opportunity, therefore, not only to reiterate your premisses, inferences and conclusions, but also to close the argument with some verbal punch. The combination of impeccable logic, expressive clarity, and arresting prose make for adamantine argument.

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