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Argumentative Essay: focus, thesis, incorporating sources

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

Amanda Goldrick-Jones

on 28 October 2016

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Transcript of Argumentative Essay: focus, thesis, incorporating sources

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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
curious
?
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."
http://www.lib.sfu.ca/help/tutorials/plagiarism-tutorial
...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/writing/apa

Fun facts about a thesis statement
A thesis statement starts taking
shape
after
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
forecasts

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
outline,
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:

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

This handout outlines differences between a CLAIM (of fact) and a THESIS: http://www.lib.sfu.ca/about/branches-depts/slc/strategies/writing/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 . . .
TIP:
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 ...
CONTEXT
(when was this
written? what's the situation or background?)
REASONING (what patterns
of argument do you notice?)
EVIDENCE
(convincing?
credible? biased? sufficient?)
PURPOSE
(why?) and
TARGET
READER
(who?)
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?

APA STYLE is...
Levels of Abstraction: explanation and examples
http://faculty.wwu.edu/auer/Resources/Hayakawa-Abstraction-Ladder.pdf
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
IN PAIRS . . . PICK 1 OF THESE
TOPICS FOR PRACTICE:

How does advertising transmit a "consuming ideology"? (What
is
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
disagreeing
with your own position: a counter-claim.
WHY?
THEN TRY THIS:
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 the source is to
integrate
it into your sentence using
attributive phrases
and
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):
Thesis
Students in their early twenties are very susceptible to stress
because
they must manage many conflicting demands on their time. A stress management program would help students deal with these pressures.
Body

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?
Conclusion
How would students benefit? How would the university benefit? What should the next step be?


Informal
(helping you organize your ideas):
http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/rwc/repository/files/the-writing-process/organization/developing-an-informal-outline.pdf-1

Formal
(helping you structure AND review your draft):
http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/rwc/repository/files/the-writing-process/organization/DevelopingaFormalOutline.pdf

More about outlines
Full transcript