What do we mean by an original, arguable claim? Ah, That’s pretty difficult to describe. Here’s what it’s not:
1. General in nature
A professor of mine used to put it plainly: do not reinvent the wheel. If it’s been said a million times, is evident in nature, and does not further the academic conversation . . . leave it be.
2. A direct reflection of your scholarly research
If you do not have your claim already formulated, it’s easy to fall into the trap of allowing the research to argue for you! Strong essays have their claim already in hand and set out to find the research that can bend to their will, rather than the other way around. And: you need not exhaust yourself searching for the exact statement. After all, if you find it, you need to drop your argument. It’s been done!
3. Devoid of theoretical perspective
Consider first your original, super-cool argument, then choose the most effective tone. Logic? Ethics? Passion?
4. Written in the first person
Just don’t–personal narratives are long over.
5. Unsupported by textual evidence
Without direct quotes, your argument asks the reader to just trust you and your interpretation of a scene or the scholarship. Paraphrasing should always be minimal. These quotations are called textual evidence: they are the support beams of your argument. That being said: always, always contextualize your quotes before moving on. They cannot do the work for you! ?
6. Outside of MLA standards
All quotes need to be situated in a larger sentence–even block quotes! Quotations that stand alone (SAQs) are MLA faux pas and injure the flow of your work. Block quotes must be introduced and do not have quotation marks around them, such as:
Dr. Privett-Duren tried to send out help on a Sunday. As she typed,
she hoped that the students would read it–but knew that, as weekends
usually went, there was very little hope in that area. (Privett-Duren)
See? It was simply too long to include on the text line, but is still part of a larger sentence. Psst: I am now contextualizing this quote. ?
- Choose an appropriate, focused topic (ex: Airport Security)
- Explore and decide your position for this topic
- Predict opposing arguments
- Consider your audience and occasion
- Decide on which points you will argue (ex: Safe Traveler Card, etc.)
- Decide on which points you will refute in the concession (ex: Loss of privacy, etc.)
- Write a thesis that is focused, arguable, and opinionated (ex: If every US citizen had a Safe Traveler Card, airlines could screen for terrorists more effectively than they do now and avoid procedures that single out individuals solely on the basis of race.)
Research & Evidence
Offer evidence that effectively supports the claims through evidence like
- personal experiences (in this instance, it’s okay to use the 1st person point of view—I, me, etc. to briefly give the personal evidence, then return back to 3rd person point of view; to see an example of this, click here; you may also want to see my PowerPoint on Point of View),
- the experiences of others,
- statistics from current, reliable sources,
- hypothetical examples, and
- testimony from authorities and experts .
Analyze the evidence for effectiveness.
- Select which of all the different gathered evidence you will use.
- Highlight and annotate your evidence. This will help you decide which parts of your evidence are strongest, and therefore appropriate for your essay.
- Decide what pieces of evidence you’d like to quote directly.
- Summarize and paraphrase the other pieces of evidence.
- Consider Rogerian or Traditional techniques
- Create an argumentative outline
- Write the Essay!
- Check to see how your instructor wants you to format your essay. MLA formatting may be required.
- Rethink the essay by:
- Edit the essay
- Holistic Approach
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