Arguments in academic writing are usually complex and take time to develop. The strength of your evidence, and your use of it, can make or break your argument. You already have the natural inclination for this type of thinking, if not in an academic setting.
Your argument will need to be more than a simple or obvious statement such as “Frank Lloyd Wright was a great architect.” Such a statement might capture your initial impressions of Wright as you have studied him in class; however, you need to look deeper and express specifically what caused that “greatness.” Your instructor will probably expect something more complicated, such as “Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture combines elements of European modernism, Asian aesthetic form, and locally found materials to create a unique new style,” or “There are many strong similarities between Wright’s building designs and those of his mother, which suggests that he may have borrowed some of her ideas.” To develop your argument, you would then define your terms and prove your claim with evidence from Wright’s drawings and buildings and those of the other architects you mentioned. Think about how you talked your parents into letting you borrow the family car.
This handout will define what an argument is and explain why you need one in most of your academic essays.
You may be surprised to hear that the word “argument” does not have to be written anywhere in your assignment for it to be an important part of your task.
Asking yourself what your point is can help you avoid a mere “information dump.” Consider this: your instructors probably know a lot more than you do about your subject matter.
Why, then, would you want to provide them with material they already know?Instructors may call on you to examine that interpretation and defend it, refute it, or offer some new view of your own.In writing assignments, you will almost always need to do more than just summarize information that you have gathered or regurgitate facts that have been discussed in class.In the majority of college papers, you will need to make some sort of claim and use evidence to support it, and your ability to do this well will separate your papers from those of students who see assignments as mere accumulations of fact and detail.In other words, gone are the happy days of being given a “topic” about which you can write anything.” For example, the point of this handout is to help you become a better writer, and we are arguing that an important step in the process of writing effective arguments is understanding the concept of argumentation.If your papers do not have a main point, they cannot be arguing for anything.Pay attention to your textbooks and your instructor’s lectures.What types of argument and evidence are they using?In their courses, they want you to engage in similar kinds of critical thinking and debate.Argumentation is not just what your instructors do.