Researching a controversial topic and developing an argument provides writers with practice in analysis and synthesis of information. The argumentative or persuasive essay is a common assignment for both secondary and college students in various subjects. While persuasive writing requires both research and opinion, there are writing and organizational techniques students can use to convey a strong message.
Researching a Topic, Developing an Argument
The most important consideration in choosing a topic for a persuasive essay is ensuring it is debatable. Your research should focus on finding arguments to support both sides of the issue. For example, research for a persuasive essay about nuclear weapons includes arguments both for and against weapon development. Once you determine the side you agree with or wish to argue, your position on the issue forms the basis of your thesis. The thesis clearly states your position on the issue and presents your organization strategy for the essay.
Writing an Introduction, Finishing with a Conclusion
The first and last paragraphs of your persuasive essay each serve a different purpose in the presentation of your argument. Your introduction paragraph should include an overview of the topic of the essay along with reasons the reader should take interest in your argument. The first paragraph introduces the topic broadly and narrows the focus on your argument until it ends with the thesis statement. The final paragraph of the essay presents a review of main topics and the central argument of the essay. However, you should avoid restating information from your essay directly and develop synthesis of your overall argument.
Developing an Argument through Evidence
Presenting evidence in the form of facts, statistics, quotes and examples provides your reader with multiple ways to understand your argument. Each body paragraph should focus on one aspect of your argument and include appropriate evidence. Within the paragraph, you should integrate both evidence from your research and your analysis of the evidence as it supports your argument. It is also important to consider arguments from the opposing side of your issue. Presenting the opposition's view allows you to strengthen your argument by refuting its points and weaknesses.
Drafting the Complete Argument
Once you develop an argument, gather research and craft an introduction, you can work on organizing your overall essay. One strategy for organization is presenting the strongest argument first so your reader is immediately persuaded to agree with you. On the other hand, finishing with your strongest evidence is another strategy that allows you to leave your reader thinking about your strongest point. Additionally, transitions between sentences within paragraphs are essential to increase the coherence of your evidence. Transitions between paragraphs create a cohesive argument throughout the essay.
- Indian River State College: Writing Handout E-5: Argumentative (Persuasive) Essay Guidelines
- Austin Peay State University: The Argumentative (Persuasive) Essay
- Purdue Online Writing Lab: Argumentative Essays
- Waterford Union High School: Writing the Persuasive Essay
- University of Houston Victoria: Persuasive/Argument Paper
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