organizing and writing research Research Arguments Chapter 6

When assessing an outline (many of these steps can also be used to assess the organization of a paper, which we will do), pay attention to the following:

Thesis: Is the thesis complex, arguable, and interesting?

Argument: Is there a logical and fluid progression of ideas? Does each one relate back to the thesis? Is there extraneous information that you can cut?

Arrangment: Does your outline follow a consistent and clear model of arrangement?

Development: Do any points need more development? Do you see any areas that need further research? For instance, is there an "A" without a "B"? Is there one section that is much less developed than the others?

Sources: Do you identify any sources that you will analyze in the paper? Do you list your sources at relevant points to provide support and authority for the argument? Are there sufficient sources listed for each point?

Format: Is there a clear hierarchy of information ,with main points associated with supporting points? Are the headings in corresponding sections (like the I, II, and III headings or A, B, C headings) parallel in structure? Do they move the argument of the essay along?

There is no single right way to draft an essay; what is most important is that you find a way to draft and write that best supports your writing style.

These are some questions you will want to address as you begin to delineate your argument:

1. How to retain a strong structure

2. How to facilitate clear connections between your ideas

3. How to spotlight your argument

4. How to integrate source material

5. How to keep writing

Structuring your Argument with Subheads: I will show you an example.

One way to retain a clear structure while drafting is to borrow a practice from outlining and incorporate subheadings into your essay.

You can use these as a temporary organizational aid in your draft, or you could incorporate them as permanent headings for your essay's sections.

In either case, these subheads can help you transition from your outline to an essay while still allowing you to clearly map the progression of your argument.

Subheads work very well for longer-research based essays, especially ones that ask the reader to make sense of a complex argument.

Subheads offer a mini-preview of the points to come in the section and can help keep your overall argument on track, for both your readers and for you as a writer.

Here are some strategies to help with drafting:

Following a linear path: Start at the beginning, write the introduction, and then move sequentially through each point of argument.

Expand your outline: Gradually transform the outline into a full draft, moving from a keyword outline to a prose outline by systematically expanding each of the sections; as you add more detail, the key words fall away, leaving behind detailed paragraphs.

Writing from the middle: Start writing from a point of greatest strength or start with a section you can complete easily and then write around it and fill out sections as you go. You can maybe start with what you write today in class.

Freewrite and then reverse outline: First, freewrite a few pages, then compose a reverse outline in which you record the point of each paragraph to assess the argument's flow and structure, and finally reorder and rewrite the paper until it begins to take the proper form for the argument.


In their simplest form, transitions gesture back at ideas you've already presented and then gestures forward to ideas you're about to present, providing a seamless, smooth, connection between the two.

In many cases, transitions might take the shape of a single word or phrase that provides links between paragraphs or sections in your essay.

For instance, you might incorporate terms that imply addition (furthermore, in addition, additionally).

You might incorporate terms that imply sequential arrangement (next, first, second, third, finally).

You might incorporate terms that imply similarity (likewise, similarly, in the same way).

To show contrast (yet, however, conversely, on the one hand/on the other hand)

...to show cause-effect (therefore, consequently, as a result)

...to show elaboration (for example, for instance, in other words).

In each case, the word or phrase suggests a relationship between two elements: what you've already said and what you're about to say.

In each case, think about the about how you can signal the next idea, build on the previous idea, or reiterate the key terms as you advance your argument.


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