Components of Argumentative Papers
An introduction is beginning of a paper. Its purpose to set the foundation for the body and explain to the readers what they will read and why they should check it until the end. In order to do it effectively, it is necessary to do three things:
- Provide background. You should indicate the main idea of the paper and clarify from which perspective it will be discussed in the following paragraphs. In other words, you need to put an issue under consideration in some context so that your topic is clear.
- Attach significance. You must explain to the audience why it should be interested in the topic and the paper, in particular. You need to persuade a person that the piece of writing is worth reading.
- Take position. Finally, you are supposed are supposed to create a thesis statement, i.e., 1-2 sentences that would represent your opinion regarding an issue. After reading the thesis, a reader should certainly understand how you will support your stance with ethos (an appeal to authority), pathos (an appeal to emotions), and logos (an appeal to sound reasoning).
Here are several facts about thesis statements that will help you understand what it actually is and how it can be formulated in a proper manner:
- A thesis should not announce a subject or writer’s intentions. For example, “In this paper, child obesity will be discussed” is not an acceptable thesis.
- A thesis cannot be identical to a title. A title represents the topic, e.g., “Smoking in Public Places,” whereas a thesis shows both a topic and an argument, e.g., “Smoking in public places should be banned because it creates an unpleasant odor, spurs children to develop the habit, and leaves no choice for non-smokers.”
- A thesis cannot be a mere fact, e.g., “Paris is a capital of France.”
- A thesis is your position. It should contain your opinion about the subject and strong argumentation that backs up your stance. A thesis should be based on the supporting proofs, specifically ethos, logos, and pathos.
- A thesis should cover the entire paper. Having read a thesis, a reader should be able to predict what the structure of the paper will be like from the first until the last body paragraph.
- Preferably, a thesis should be one sentence long. Nevertheless, if the paper is very complicated and lengthy, the thesis may be extended to two sentences.
- A thesis should be coherent and concise. For instance, a sentence, “Cinematography is a form of art, but it also can be the means for entertaining masses and help to earn money,” is floppy. At the same time, “Cinematography is a form of art, entertainment, and business” is an example of a brief and well formulated thesis.
- A thesis should be specific but free of unnecessary details. Therefore:
- Hitchcock’s Psycho is an interesting film. – It is an unsatisfactory and too general thesis.
- Hitchcock’s Psycho isrevolutionary movie since it introduced many new techniques to filmmaking. – This thesis is better, but it is still rather general. A reader is unaware of what exactly will be discussed.
- Hitchcock’s Psycho isrevolutionary movie since it introduced the techniques of Dolly zoom, whirling camera, and double exposure to the filmmaking industry. – This is a specific thesis that is easy to read thanks to insignificant number of details.
The easiest way to create a good thesis statement is to rely on the task, namely research questions that you have been given by a professor. It is especially applicable to exploratory papers. Furthermore, in case the assigned paper is quite long, a thesis might be complemented with the overview of sources, which were used while writing, opposing viewpoints, and a paper map. The latter is a short summary of the elements and section of the argumentative paper that is aimed at helping a reader to follow the flow of the author’s ideas easily. However, the necessity of this map and its tone should be discussed with your professor.
If you have already taken our pieces of advice into consideration and tried to create a thesis, the following checklist is likely to be very helpful for you. Your thesis is perfect if:
- It meets all the criteria listed above.
- It is suitable for the task and complies with the professor’s requirements.
- It contains a clear and specific claim.
- Its claim is supported with various arguments, namely logos, ethos, and pathos.
A conclusion, just like an introduction, should not be very specific. It should be a general recap of what was addressed in your argumentative paper. Its mandatory element is the restatement of the main arguments or your thesis statement. Of course, it should not be copied and pasted but rather paraphrased. Then, supporting claim should be concisely repeated. The final stroke of your pen should be a prediction regarding the way the situation will develop, suggestion for further research, or a call for action addressing the audience. In a nutshell, you should:
- Remind a reader of a topic.
- Paraphrase thesis statement.
- Summarize supporting arguments.
- Mention the views of opponent and refute them, if they were discussed in the body of the paper.
- Predict, suggest ideas for future studies, or encourage people to take a certain action.
Please, mind that conclusion is the final point of the paper. Even if you get your second wind and are overwhelmed with a new wave of inspiration, do not write anything new in this part. Remember that conclusion is only a repetition of what was already said. Instead, use your energy and ideas to improve the body or edit the paper. Besides, do not become too ambitious in your conclusion. There is no need to mention a solution to the ever-lasting problem that you have been discussing in the paper. Keep it simple and neat!