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Argumentative Essay: focus, thesis, incorporating sources

FIC-CMNS 130 -- designed to complement a workshop and handouts to help you plan and draft an effective academic argument.

Amanda Goldrick-Jones

on 6 October 2017

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Transcript of Argumentative Essay: focus, thesis, incorporating sources

Argumentative Essay: focusing a topic, building a thesis, & preparing to use sources
Focus broad topics: "prime the pump."
What's been discussed in class?
What have you seen or experienced?
What makes you
Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sodaniechea/7142663033/
Another starting-point is to make a basic CLAIM about your topic: a statement taking a position. Your research will help you develop this claim into a "working thesis."
A good starting-point for research is to ask an
exploratory question
about your topic
What is it?
When did it start? How long has it been going on? How or where does it fit in?
How does it work?
How does it
compare or contrast
with others?
How might it affect other elements or people?
What might happen? What if...?
Credit your sources
Plagiarism: "using the words
or ideas
of another person as if they were your own, and without giving proper credit to the sources you have used."
...one of the most popular formats for
crediting the sources
you are incorporating into your paper.
The SFU Writing and Citing Guide provides basic assistance with the most common styles. For APA, go to http://www.lib.sfu.ca/help/cite-write/citation-style-guides/apa

Fun facts about a thesis statement
A thesis statement starts taking
most of the research is done.

In many papers, a thesis is placed near the beginning . . . yet it's one of the
last things you finalize
in the paper.

A thesis statement

the main points your paper intends
to cover.

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smemon/6277253893/
Create an organizational plan
A thesis serves as a road map for your paper. Use it to create an
or use an outline to refine your thesis.

HAND OUT: take a look at some ineffective vs effective thesis statements.
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/22964099@N05/2204059683/
Unlike a simple claim

People in their 20s are under more stress than any other age group.

a formal thesis statement incorporates logical relationships:

of Y
Z, X needs our attention
Even though
Z is the case, X needs attention
of Y

This handout outlines differences between a CLAIM (of fact) and a THESIS: http://www.lib.sfu.ca/about/branches-depts/slc/writing/argumentation/thesis-statements

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lac-bac/7639138098/
Chris Lund. Canada. National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque. Library and Archives Canada, e010949025 /
Next steps . . .
To help avoid plagiarism, don’t read a source only for "facts." Read critically to assess HOW the source is conveying ideas. Make notes about ...
(when was this
written? what's the situation or background?)
REASONING (what patterns
of argument do you notice?)
credible? biased? sufficient?)
(why?) and
Use the "ladder of abstraction" to narrow or limit broad concepts in your topic area
Image credit: http://srjcwritingcenter.com/images/ladder.jpg
You're probably wondering . . .

• How much source material should I include in my paper?
• When should I use direct quotes, and when should I paraphrase?
• When paraphrasing, how do I avoid using
too much
of the source's wording?
• How do I make sure the sources are clearly supporting my own argument?

Levels of Abstraction: explanation and examples
Myths about thesis statements: BUSTED!
Every paper requires one.

It must come at the end of the first paragraph.

It must be one sentence in length.

It must give three points of support.

You can't start writing until your thesis statement is perfect.
Hand out:
Incorporating Your Sources

How does advertising transmit a "consuming ideology"? (What
consuming ideology?)

If advertising is a main storyteller in our society, then what stories does advertising consistently tell about us?
Look at the QUESTION and/or the CLAIM you've created using today's practice topic. Next steps . . .

1. Find reliable, credible evidence to
answer your questions
focus your topic
refine your position
explore opposing or alternative positions.
2. Read your sources critically--annotate them!
3. Create a working thesis and outline.
4. Back your claims with evidence from your sources.
5. Use your sources ethically: attribute and cite.
6. Leave lots of time to revise and edit your draft!
This may seem weird, but try
with your own position: a counter-claim.
explain the "gist" of the reading without looking at it
"Christopher Columbus sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492."

This sentence does NOT need a citation; it's an example of
common knowledge
According to recent research involving DNA samples from 500-year-old bones, it has been claimed that Christopher Columbus is buried in the cathedral in Seville, Spain and not in the Dominican Republic (Associated Press, 2006).

This sentence about the same topic DOES need a citation; it's providing specific, documented information attributable to a source.
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/telemax/3304139364/
Another way to CREDIT a source is to
it into your sentence using
attributive phrases
reporting verbs
According to Lester (1976)
, students often quote excessively in research papers, failing to keep quoted material down to a desirable level. Since the problem usually originates during note taking,
Lester emphasizes
that it is essential to minimize the material recorded verbatim.
This is called INTEGRAL citation.
Use a thesis to create an outline (or the reverse):
Students in their early twenties are very susceptible to stress
they must manage many conflicting demands on their time. A stress management program would help students deal with these pressures.

1. What is stress? What are major sources of stress for younger students?
2. How are these students coping?
3. What is a stress management program?
4. What are some options for ensuring the program is helping students?
How would students benefit? How would the university benefit? What should the next step be?

(helping you organize your ideas):

(helping you structure AND review your draft):

More about outlines
This video demonstrates integrating source materials ethically to support your arguments
Here are 3 attempts to incorporate ideas from a source.
Which is NOT legitimate, and why?
The ORIGINAL passage:

Students frequently overuse direct quotation in taking notes, and as a result they overuse quotations in the final [research] paper. Probably only about 10% of your final manuscript should appear as directly quoted matter. Therefore, you should strive to limit the amount of exact transcribing of source materials while taking notes (Lester, 1976, pp. 46-47).

Students often use too many direct quotations when they take notes, resulting in too many of them in the final research paper. In fact, probably only about 10% of the final copy should consist of directly quoted material. So it is important to limit the amount of source material copied while taking notes.

In research papers, students often quote excessively, failing to keep quoted material down to a desirable level. Since the problem usually originates during note taking, it is essential to minimize the material recorded verbatim (Lester, 1976).


Students should take just a few notes in direct quotation from sources to help minimize the amount of quoted material in a research paper (Lester, 1976).
PARAPHRASE 1 is NOT legitimate because of the following 3 problems:

--borrows entire phrases from the source with occasional word substitutions
--uses the same basic sentence structure as the source
--does not acknowledge the source

Even 1 of these problems alone would mean the paraphrase is not legitimate. For example, using the same sentence structure makes it almost impossible NOT to fall into patch-writing.
PARAPHRASE 2 is legitimate because
--the original phrasing has been restructured (e.g. 2 more condensed sentences instead of 3)
--the restructuring has made it easier to choose different words conveying the same meaning
--the source is cited
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