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One of the first questions students ask themselves when preparing for new modules and classes is the following: “How does one write a good argumentative essay?” The aim of this paper is to answer this question by addressing different factors that students should consider when drafting, writing, and proofreading their essays. The first section of the essay will introduce the concept of an argumentative essay and examine its features.
The second section of the essay will emphasize the importance of literature in essay writing, pointing out why research of existing literature on the topic is necessary for composing an effective argumentative essay. The third section of the paper will discuss other factors (such as grammar, citation styles, and student’s skills) necessary for successful essay completion. The paper will prove the reader that an effective argumentative essay always relies on the student’s understanding of it as a concept and his or her ability to use literature and writing skills efficiently.
Argumentative Essay: Characteristics
Argumentative essays and their characteristics can vary depending on universities and tutors; nevertheless, the main value of such essay is the writer’s ability to display critical thinking, as well as present and develop an argument that aligns with the context of the curriculum (Wingate 2012). A good argumentative essay will define the author’s main thesis and use several reasons or consist of several sub-topics that support it. It will have a logical flow and rely on literature or other research that supports the point of view that the author expresses (Hughes & Lavery 2015). It may also use sub-arguments to support the main argument. The thesis statement is normally neither too short nor too long and is expressed in one sentence.
The main difference of an argumentative essay from other types of essay that students often do not see is that it presents an idea or a statement to the reader and develops it throughout the paper, using research as means of support. Students tend to misunderstand the concept of the argumentative essay in general or the argument in particular, which results in the unstructured or illogical development of the argument (Wingate 2012). Another reason behind student’s misinterpretations is the different concepts of the argument presented at secondary school. Thus, it is essential to be familiar with the concept of the argumentative essay to write it successfully. Once the concept is understood, the research of relevant literature becomes the next step.
Literature in Argumentative Essay
The importance of literature research for an argumentative essay is in its ability to provide a back-up for writer’s thesis and transfer other vital ideas that will support the argument from different perspectives. The literature used for support should directly relate to the argument and present it in detail. Furthermore, it should not restate the ideas that the author presented earlier in the same way except if it can provide a new view of the issue or specific details that were not yet addressed in the paper (Clouse 2013).
It can be possible, however, that the literature that addresses the argument in the essay is either scarce or contains repetitive ideas from the same set of authors. This can happen when the topic presented in the essay is rarely researched or too specific. In this case, the thesis can be supported by the presentation of similar ideas expressed by other writers with an emphasis on the details of these opinions. Detailed perspectives will result in better argument presentation and development.
The methods used for finding the relevant sources for the essay also need to be considered. When looking for suitable literature, it is essential to use keywords that apply directly to the chosen topic. Using the combination of keywords, it is possible to locate literature that suits the purpose of the essay directly. Nevertheless, such method often significantly narrows down the number of articles and books, and some of them might not be available for reading or purchasing. Even if fewer articles are chosen, a narrow search is not always better. The writer might miss out some important ideas due to the small number of available sources (Fink 2013). A wide search is also not advisable as it presents a wide choice for citations. Many of those might be irrelevant to the thesis statement of the essay.
The utilization of literature in an essay should not resemble literature review. If the main argument of the paper is lost between various quotes and citations, the logical flow of the essay will also be disrupted. If the author focuses too much on the personas or the quotes without developing their argument further, it will turn the argumentative essay into a literature analysis. Therefore, the literature in such essay is used as a support, but it is not the primary focus per se. If quotations and references are improperly used, it will further interfere with the author’s intent to prove the expressed point.
Other Factors Affecting the Essay
Good grammar, the correct use of citation styles, and good writing skills can help the author create both a convincing and interesting argumentative essay. Poor grammar results in the author’s inability to translate their statement. A large number of mistakes in the body of the paper also undermines reader’s ability to understand the main idea of the essay because the reader focuses on the errors instead of following and paying attention to the argument.
The correct use of citation styles facilitates the search for the needed sources if the writer or the reader aims to find further information about the information presented in this source. Correct use of citation styles also demonstrates the work done by the author in determining, locating, and using relevant research. At last, it also indicates the author’s accountability, as with the help of citation styles the author refrains from plagiarizing (Lanning 2016).
Good writing skills suggest the author’s ability to show critical thinking and translate ideas and information to others. This ability is not only essential in communication but also results in more efficient explanation and presentation of the argument. Writing skills that are used effectively indicate the writer’s aim to assist the reader in understating the main point of the essay (Lin et al. 2014). Attention to grammar, citation styles, and writing skills result in a cohesive presentation and development of the argument.
The aim of the essay was to examine the importance of different factors such as the concept of an argumentative essay, use of literature, correct grammar, and others in successfully presenting and developing an argument. Key literature in the field was used to prove the significance of the mentioned factors. It is vital to pay attention to the examined details to create an effective argumentative essay.
Clouse, Barbara, 2013, The Student Writer New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
Fink, Arlene, 2013, Conducting Research Literature Reviews: From The Internet To Paper Boston, MA: Sage Publications.
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Hughes, William & Lavery, Jonathan, 2015, Critical Thinking – Concise Edition Peterborough: Broadview Press.
Lanning, Scott, 2016, “A Modern, Simplified Citation Style and Student Response,” Reference Services Review 44, 1 : 21-37.
Lin, Ming H., Li, Ji-Jhen, Hung, Po Y. & Huang, Hui-Wen, 2014, “Blogging a Journal: Changing Students’ Writing Skills and Perceptions,” ELT Journal 68, 4 : 422-31.
Wingate, Ursula, 2012, “‘Argument!’Helping Students Understand What Essay Writing Is About,” Journal of English for Academic Purposes 11, 2 : 145-54.