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In academic writing, an argument is the expression of your point of view (or ‘position’) on the question you’ve been set, supported by evidence in the form of examples, quotations or data from your reading. Your aim is to present a balanced piece of writing that will persuade the reader of the validity of your claims.

There are three main steps in this process:

elephant button 10 assess the evidence using critical thinking (see below), then decide on your position.
elephant button 10 group your material into key themes representing different aspects of your argument.
elephant button 10 present your ideas in a clear and logical sequence.
Critical thinking is at the heart of academic writing
Develop your argument Develop your argument

Analyse and evaluate your evidence, questioning and assessing it for yourself. This is called critical thinking. What are the main points? Is the author’s position convincing? Is the data reliable and up to date? Think about the main argument or claim that you wish to make.

Consolidate your argument Consolidate your argument

Organise your material into themes that illustrate key aspects of your position. Remember to take into account different perspectives where possible.

Present your argument Present your argument

Arrange your ideas in sequence, building your argument point by point until you arrive at your final conclusion. Each key point is expressed by a single paragraph, linked to the next to create a smooth sense of progression, or ‘flow’.

Useful strategies

Use critical thinking to develop your argument

Always question what you are reading, writing down your observations as you make notes.

Ask yourself whether the source of the evidence is reputable and free of bias.

Consider the pros and cons of any theory or process. Where does the balance lie?

Decide whether there are other ways of interpreting the information or data before you.

Write persuasively, using logic and evidence to convince the reader of your claims.

Try to summarise your main argument in a single sentence. This will help you clarify it.

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