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Argument and Outline Development

Scott J. Wilson, WAD Coordinator, Luther College
by

Scott J. Wilson

on 4 October 2016

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Transcript of Argument and Outline Development

Types of Arguments: Choose One That Suits Your Purpose and Topic
• comparison/contrast
• evaluation
• interpretation
• reflection
• analysis

Examples
Use of Socially Assistive Robots (SARs) are an effective way to help care for people with dementia

as they can support health care professionals in socializing with and delivering medicines to their patients.
"Now, make an outline": Why Should I?
• Helps to
decide the points
for discussion.
• Shows how these can be most
logically organized
.

Weeds out irrelevant information.

Identifies overlaps and repetition.
• Further
refines the research direction
.

Prompts thinking
when it’s difficult to “get into” an assignment, making it
easier to put ideas on paper.
Use an Outline: Make Your Life Easier
Workshop
Using the provided handouts, develop your research questions/thesis and then start making an outline for your paper.

You may do this on your own or in a group.

Even after today's class, keep adding to and revising both your outline and the thesis as you read more, research more, and learn more in the course.
Questions?
Argument and Outline Development

Scott J. Wilson, WAD Coordinator, Luther College
Overall Research Process
1. Choose a broad subject
2. Ask some questions of the subject (who/what/when/where/why)
3. Create a very specific question or problem
4. Frame a plausible answer/hypothesis (this is called a hypothesis on probation)
5. Test (critically) the answer/hypothesis
6. Determine the broader implications of your answer/conclusion

Developing an Argument
Arguments will take many forms in academic writing, but central to all argumentative writing is the

thesis statement.

A thesis poses a problem that will be explored throughout the paper.
The thesis is a one or two sentence condensation of your analysis that will follow.
It is a debatable point that you will prove through writing.
Research Essays
Often the terms paper is an argumentative research paper, meaning you're
using external sources to make and support your main argument.

Make sure you're providing more than one side of the debate and that you're
making debatable points
and not simply summarizing everyone else.

Ultimately, you're
providing a lesson
to your reader about what you've learned through your research.
A thesis has two main parts:

1. A claim:
a debatable point you will prove is correct and/or worth proving.

2. A reason:
why the claim is true and/or why it matters (what we learn if the claim is correct).
Quality, Not Quantity
An effective working thesis (according to Sally Hayward in
Writing for the Academic Disciplines
):

1. Must argue an original opinion, something that someone could disagree with.

2. Introduces key terms, concepts, and the major divisions.

3. Uses specific vocabulary.

4. Is manageable

5. Can be supported by evidence.
In terms of being specific and manageable, start with a broad topic and make it more specific until you can't anymore.
So, if you're in an English class, the general topic is literature.
Literature
American Literature
20th Century American Literature
Neo-Noir 20th Century American Literature
(Pick an author from that genre)
Daniel Woodrell
(pick one novel he wrote)
Tomato Red
(pick a theme in that novel)
Class Difference in
Tomato Red
(pick one type of symbolism used to show that theme)
Animal Imagery and Class Difference in
Tomato Red
(Pick a specific animal to analyze)

The Poor as Barnyard Animals in Daniel Woodrell's
Tomato Red
General
Specific
In terms of being specific, start with a broad topic and make it more specific until you can't anymore.
In a History class, the general topic might be Issues in European History.
Issues in European History
Spanish History
Spanish Exploration
Hernan Cortez
General
Specific
16th Century Spanish Exploration
Cortez and the Conquest of Mexico
Cortez and the Massacre of Cholula
Impact of Massacre of Cholula on fall of the Aztec empire.
In terms of being specific, start with a broad topic and make it more specific until you can't anymore.
So, if you're in a nursing class, the general topic is health.
Health
Medicine
Medical technology
Robots in medical care
Socially assistive robots (SARs) in medical care
SARs and older adult patients
SARs and older adults with dementia
SARs and older adults w/ dementia and issues with companionship
SARs, older adults w/ dementia, companionship and dependence
General
Specific
Claims in blue
Reasons in green
While SARs have been shown to be helpful in caregiving,
SARs must be user friendly enough for healthcare workers to adjust settings while not having to spend too much of their time in training
because such a situation would negate the time saving benefits of this technology.
The writers of
Writing Analytically (Rosenwasser and Stephen, 2011)
recommend that you
ask yourself the following questions
as you go through the process of generating a thesis:
Formulating A Thesis
• What kinds of
patterns
or
implications
emerge when I look closely at my evidence?
• What
kind of evidence and support do I need
to support my tentative thesis?
• How can I
explain the mismatches
between my thesis statement and my selected evidence?
• How can I
rewrite my thesis
statement in order to accommodate the evidence that doesn’t fit?
Thesis Recognition
Often, it's easy to identify
claims
(debatable points)

However,
reasons
(why the author believes they are right and/or why their argument matters) are often harder to identify.
You need to find and explain not only what the author thinks, but what
explanation or justification
they give for why they're correct.

Often, we confuse evidence and reasons.
A good example to explain this difference between reason and evidence is a
courtroom trial
where prosecution and defense have the
same evidence
, but are making
different claims of guilty and innocent.
Claim:
Guilty of murder

Reason:

Evidence:
DNA evidence
An eye witness
The defendant's fingerprints on a weapon
Often, these become a list of reasons that prove guilt.

However, they are simply neutral evidence that need an argument or explanation or story added to them.
The
reason
for the
claim
of guilty is the
motive
for the murder, not how someone did it.

Focus on the
WHY
and
not the who, what, when, where etc.
when analyzing an article's argument or when making your own.
If it's not called a thesis,
it'll be called a research question
1. After you've selected (or been given) a topic for your essay, narrow down the broader subject into a
research question you hope to answer through research and writing.

"I am trying to learn about...”
2. Transform your question into a focused
research hypothesis on probation that your audience will find interesting

or important.
"because I want to find out
what/when/where/whether/why/how...”
3. Provide a
significance or motive for your question, a “so what?” or “who cares?”
aspect that keeps your reader’s attention.
“in order to...”
Basically, the argument gets set up as:

Topic, Research Question, Significance
1. I am studying post-secondary education policy
(topic)
3. In order to prove there is a better means of increasing enrollment from this demographic
(significance)

2. To determine if grants and bursaries increase participation in university for people from low-income backgrounds
(research question)
Basically, the argument gets set up as:

Topic, Research Question, Significance
1. It's important to study Socially Assistive Robots (SARs).
(topic)

3. In order to find a means of lessening nurse burnout while increasing patient happiness
(significance)

2. To determine if they are useful for providing companionship for patients with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.
(research question)
Basically, the argument gets set up as:

Topic, Research Question, Significance
1. I will examine the controversial nature of Christopher Columbus.
(topic)

3. In order to show whether Columbus Day should still be celebrated in the United States.
(significance)

2. To determine whether either side of the debate is correct in their traditional or re-examined interpretation of his place in history.
(research question)
From University of Otago, Student Learning Centre
From University of Washington Psychology Centre (1997)
http://www.psych.uw.edu/psych.php#p=339
A Manageable Topic of Interest
1. Choose the one topic that interests, confuses, or bothers you most
2. Narrow it down enough so that you can become (enough of) an expert by the due date
3. Ask questions of the topic until you find one that is appealing to you.
4. Determine what evidence you will need to answer it
5. Determine if you can gain that evidence by the paper’s due date.

From Topic of Interest to Research Topic
1. If at this point, you’re still not sure of a specific direction, list 2-3 subjects or aspects that interest you about the bigger topic.
2. Read a brief and accessible survey on each (find 3-6 sources).
3. Determine which of the 2-3 aspects is the most feasible of the redefined topics
Note:
this may not be your favourite topic; often, it is the one with the most available sources or the better opportunity to contribute to the field.
Why or Why Not?:
Always Be Critical
For each of the previous examples, should your findings be contrary to your original hypothesis, be sure to ask
why not
(and explain it to your reader) .

If the research confirms your hypothesis, be sure to
explain why it does.

A good research question should always try to
get to the root of the question/problem
, not simply summarize.
Specific topic to working thesis
Remember, "the thesis is more than a topic. It is a specific argument you want to make about your topic" (Hayward 156).

You'll have early drafts of the thesis that are fairly broad in scope: they establish the
general topic
and a
specific focus
.

For example: "
Theories about global warming
are being used by environmentalists to analyze the melting of the polar ice caps in the Arctic
" (156).
Even more specific
Make it more specific by adding the
"major lines of argument"
(Hayward 156). These should indicate the relevance or importance of your topic.

For example: "
Theories about global warming,
particularly by those that deny the argument of natural causes

are being used by environmentalists to analyze the melting of the polar ice caps in the Arctic
" (156).
You guessed it: even more specific
Add the
other side of the debate
to specify it further.

For example: "
Theories about global warming,
particularly by those that deny the argument of natural causes,
are being used by environmentalists
in an attempt
to show
how journalists, working in service of corporate or political ventures,

ignore or deny that human pollution is the cause
of the melting of the polar ice caps in the arctic
" (156).
Working thesis doesn't mean it's the end.
"
Theories about global warming,
particularly by those that deny the argument of natural causes,
are being used by environmentalists
in an attempt
to show
how journalists, working in service of corporate or political ventures,

ignore or deny that human pollution is the cause
of the melting of the polar ice caps in the arctic
" (156).
From this working thesis, you'll then need to add your specific, debatable argument that tells your reader something new about the topic or issue.
That means saying why it's important that we know this or why it's a problem this is happening, or what needs to change and why. Or, it's what you learned while proving this is true.
Full transcript