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Webinar Transcripts

Building and Organizing Academic Arguments

Presented February 21, 2018

View the recording

Last updated 2/28/2018

 

Visual: The webinar begins with a PowerPoint title slide in the large central panel. A captioning pod, Q&A pod, and files pod are stacked on the right side.

The slide says “Housekeeping” and the following:

  • Recording
    • Will be available online a day or two from now.
  • Interact
    • Polls, files, and links are interactive.
  • Q&A
    • Use the Q&A box to ask questions.
    • Send to writingsupport@waldenu.edu
  • Help
    • Choose “Help” in the upper right hand corner of the webinar room.

Audio: Kacy: So, thank you again for joining us for our webinar. My name is Kacy Walls, I'm a writing instructor here at Walden. And, before we get started, I just wanted to mention a few things. This webinar is being recorded, and in a day or two you'll be able to access it through our website, so if you have to leave early or if you want to go over portions of this webinar again later, you'll be able to check out that recording. Along with it, you'll find many other recorded webinars on various writing‑related topics. There will be several chances to interact with your colleagues and with our presenter, Michael, so please be sure to participate during the chat sections and polls in the large Chat Box just like you did before the webinar started today. Also, please note that all of the links in the slideshow are active, you can click directly on them for access to more information or you can click on them later if you're watching the recording. We also have a few helpful files in our Files Pod and you can download them by clicking on the download files button at the bottom of the pod. This includes all of the slides you'll see today and a few extra handouts. There is going to be a lot of information in this webinar, so if you have any questions, feel free to reach out in the Q&A Box, I'm going to be watching that and I will reply to your answers as quickly as I can, but if we do run out of time or if you come up with questions later on, please send them to writingsupport@waldenu.edu and you will get a response through your email. Finally, if you encounter any technical difficulties there is a Help Button in the upper right‑hand corner of the webinar screen that has lots of helpful tips that can hopefully help you out if you're having any issues, but feel free to reach out to me as well. I have a few tricks, or you can always watch the recording later on. Thank you so much again for joining us for Academic Arguments Webinar and I'm going to hand things over now to the one and only Michael Dusek.

 

Visual: Slide Changes to the title of the webinar, “Building & Organizing Academic Arguments” and the speakers name and information: Michael Dusek, Writing Instructor, Walden University Writing Center.

Audio: Michael: Hey, thanks, Kacy. Yeah, as Kacy mentioned, welcome to this webinar on building and organizing academic arguments. My name is Michael Dusek and I'm a writing instructor here at Walden University. Yeah. Away we go. (Laughing).

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Today’s Agenda

  • Argument
  • Thesis
  • Evidence
  • Sources
  • Paraphrase
  • Quote
  • Organization
  • Essential
  • Elements
  • Revising
  • Outlining

Audio: Today in this webinar argumentation is really going to be the focus and we're going to look at how to take the research that you're doing for your course work or for your dissertation capstone process and translating that into a strong academic argument. Part of that, we're going to be talking about arguments in general and thesis statements, theses. We're also going to look at how to use evidence, sources, how to paraphrase and why that's important, how to quote, and potentially where to use that within your writing. We're going to look a bit at organizations and some essential elements of organization that can be really useful to keep in mind as you're putting together a larger piece. And we're also going to look at a bit of revising and outlining. How to maybe put some of the pieces in place of your draft before you actually start writing, and then maybe after the fact, how to disassemble your work to make sure that it's doing what you want it to do, so that it's working for you.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Arguments

  • A reason given in proof or rebuttal
  • Discourse intended to persuade
  • A coherent series of statements supported by evidence, leading from a premise to a conclusion.
  • APA section 3.07: Arguments should be presented “in a professional, noncombative manner” (p.66).

Audio: So then yeah, arguments. There’s a few definitions of arguments depending on the context to which you're referring to the idea. One is a reason given in proof or rebuttal. This is to argue with someone, right. For the purposes of academic writing, we like to think of it as more of a discourse intended to persuade, so persuasion, right, trying to encourage someone else to see your point and to see the support behind your point. Lastly, arguments can be defined as a coherent series of statements supported by evidence. Leading from a premise to a conclusion, this is perhaps the best definition in the context of academic writing as you're supporting your work with evidence and leading to some sort of conclusion from your own analysis.

APA, the bible of APA, our style guide defines arguments like this or discusses arguments like this rather, “arguments should be presented in a professional noncombative manner”, so I think when you think of arguments, there is kind of some more adversarial ideas that come into your mind of maybe two people in a heated argument, but really in the context again of academic writing, argumentation is more about presenting ideas and supporting them. You always want to maintain a professional and noncombative tone, and so simply put, that means looking at the ideas of someone that you disagree with rather than really attacking them as a person. You always want to be respectful of the research of others even if you don't agree with their conclusions. This is kind of a pillar of academic argumentation.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Poll: Which is argumentative?

Audio: So yeah, let's take a look at our first poll here. We have a couple of choices, and I'm wondering which of these is argumentative? So, let's take ‑‑ we'll take one to two minutes here. Take a look at this poll and go ahead and vote in which of these two do you think is an argumentative statement?

[Pause as students take poll]

All right. I'm seeing a number of you chime in. For our two choices here, we have ‑‑ again, we're looking for which of these two is argumentative? One, a paper describing to readers what happens physiologically to a person's brain when that person eats chocolate. Or two, a person persuading readers that chocolate, in moderation, has health benefits. So, looking at these two, the second of these two is actually argumentative. When you look at the first one, this is what we refer to in the composition community as informative. You are informing the reader as to what happens physiologically to a person's brain when this happens, when they eat a piece of chocolate. The second example is argumentative because you're pointing out some of these health benefits, your persuading the reader, hopefully, that chocolate can have some of these health benefits if eaten in moderation. Yeah. Thanks for your participation there.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Establishing the Argument for a Paper:

Thesis Statement

  • Encompasses the main point(s) of your paper
  • Makes an argumentative claim with which someone could disagree
  • Acts as road map: Tells the reader what argument you will prove in the paper
  • Located in the introduction
  • Supported by evidence

Audio: Turning then to an argument within a paper, the idea of a thesis statement becomes pretty central. When writing, a thesis statement is an absolutely essential element of academic writing. This is going to ‑‑ a strong thesis statement encompasses the main points of the paper, it makes an argumentative claim with which someone else could disagree. If you create a thesis statement in which it's difficult to disagree with or to look at it and someone can't come by and argue an alternative point or a contradictory point, it's a pretty good indication that, that thesis statement is informative rather than argumentative. Thesis statements also act as a roadmap. They tell the reader what argument you will prove in this paper. Another way to put this is a thesis statement kind of previews the body of the paper. Yeah. A thesis statement is located in the introduction. Most often, I'd say the vast majority of the time, your thesis statement is going to be the last sentence or two of your introduction, and your thesis statement needs to be supported by evidence. I often describe it this way, that a thesis statement shows the reader the main argument of the piece, then the body of the piece goes on to elaborate on that providing details and evidence to support that thesis statement.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Tips for your thesis

Learn more:

Writing Strong Thesis Statements webinar

Ask yourself:

  • Can someone disagree with it?
  • Can you base your argument on scholarly evidence? Or are you relying on opinion or morality?
  • Is it narrow enough that you can discuss it with detailed, in-depth evidence?

Audio: Tips for a thesis statement that you might write. First, ask yourself, can someone disagree with this? This is a really important point. If someone can't disagree with it, it's a very good indication that you're not actually putting forth an argument, that you are setting out to inform the reader about a topic. Now, informative writing has its place within the sphere of composition in general. However, in the context of academic writing, you really want to focus on making an argument, right, putting forth a point that can be disagreed with. You also want to ask yourself, can you base your argument on scholarly evidence or are you relying on opinion and morality? Within the academic community, having evidence is really paramount. You don't want to base your points on something like morality, right, whether something is right or wrong. It's appropriate to say that something has perhaps a negative effect, but to characterize something as being right or wrong is really inappropriate within an academic context. Lastly, you want to ask yourself, is this narrow enough? Is my topic narrow enough that I can discuss it with detail and in‑depth evidence? I often encounter students who think by leaving their thesis statement very broad or their research question very broad that it gives them more to write about, but really what this does is it forces you to have to cover too much ground within your paper, so narrowing your topic to a manageable topic area or manageably narrow idea is really important so that you can demonstrate your detailed knowledge of that topic and really show the reader that you've gone in depth with this research. For more help with this, you can see our link in the upper right‑hand corner for writing strong thesis statements. It's another webinar just like this, it's very useful in putting together strong thesis statements within your own writing.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Topic versus Theses

  • Topic
  • The subject of your paper
  • My paper will discuss childhood obesity and how childhood obesity is affecting children.
  • Thesis
  • The argument of your paper
  • Childhood obesity negatively affects children’s overall health as well as their academic achievement.

Audio: So yeah, topics versus theses or thesis statements. These are pretty significantly different things, right. A topic is the subject of this paper, this is what you are writing about. This could sound something like this: My paper will discuss childhood obesity and how childhood obesity is affecting children. Taking a look at this then and putting this through kind of our questions that we had on our previous slide, this really isn't an argumentative point: My paper will discuss childhood obesity, this is an informative point. Essentially, what you're telling the reader here is that I, as the author, am going to inform you about childhood obesity and how it affects children.

Taking a look then at our right‑hand column about theses or thesis statements, this really puts forth an argument about this point. Childhood obesity negatively affects children's overall health as well as their academic achievement. Someone could easily come along and argue with either of these main two points. Either childhood obesity doesn't negatively affect children's overall health, which is a pretty absurd thing to say, but it can be argued, right? Someone could present evidence that argues this point. Or they could argue with the fact that it can affect their overall academic achievement. They could also present evidence that shows that there is no correlation between childhood obesity and a lowered academic achievement. The difference between these two things primarily then is that the topic is informative, again, and the thesis statement is putting forth an argument and it's argumentative.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: When should you have a thesis statement

  • Childhood obesity negatively affects children’s overall health.
    • As you read and research
  • Childhood obesity negatively affects children’s overall health as well as their academic achievement.
    • As you write
  • Childhood obesity negatively affects children’s overall health by increasing the chance of illness, bullying, and low self-esteem.
    • As you revise
  • Your thesis should be flexible until you have a final draft, at which time it should be finalized.

Audio: When should you have a thesis statement? This is a good question. Often times we start researching not with a thesis, right, but with more of a research question. Pretty quickly into that research, you're going to come to an idea or a possible argument that might make sense to you. So, at that point it's good to kind of keep this thesis statement in mind. To follow our childhood obesity example, as you read and research a fairly good preliminary thesis statement could read something like this: Childhood obesity negatively affects children's overall health. I think as you research this topic, you’re going to quickly come to a number of sources that make this claim. As you continue to research then, your thesis statement is going to be refined, it's going to be narrowed down, you're going to add detail and depth to this. This is about that kind of narrowing process that I talked about earlier. As you write your paper, a strong thesis ‑‑ a preliminary thesis statement in the drafting process could sound like this: Childhood obesity negatively affects children's overall health as well as their academic achievement. Sure. As you revise then, as you return to your paper to make this even stronger, a really strong thesis statement of kind of more finalized thesis statement could sound like this: Childhood obesity negatively affects children's overall health by increasing the chance of illness, brain, and low self‑esteem. One thing that I really like about this last thesis statement example is you can see how it previews the body of this piece, that's to come. The reader gets a strong idea that there is going to be a section that talks about how childhood obesity increases the chance of illness, there’s going to be a section about how it increases bullying, and there’s going to be a section about how it lowers self‑esteem. This is what I mean when I say that it previews the body of the piece. The reader can see how this argument is going to be laid out.

At the bottom here, we see a very important point. The thesis should be flexible until you have a final draft, at which time it should be finalized. And, this gets at kind of a larger idea of a research process, right. We don't want to start with an argument that we want to make and then go to try to find sources that support that argument. This is an ineffective research process because it's bias, right. We want to let the research that we are encountering guide our thesis statement. This way the reader sees that we’ve considered both sides of this argument, of this topic area, and the argument that I'm choosing to make is the one that is best supported by evidence and the one that makes the most logical sense. So again, be flexible, be open to change as you're writing your paper in terms of your thesis statement. Let your research guide your thesis statement. Don't make it the other way around.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Poll: Which is the strongest thesis?

Audio: So here let's take a look at another poll. We have a number of choices here, five choices. I'm looking for which of these five is the strongest thesis statement. Take a couple minutes and read through these, and go ahead and vote in. Tell me which one that you think is the strongest of these five. Yeah, the strongest thesis statement of these five. Excuse me.

[Pause as students take poll]

All right then. I've seen a lot of you chime in, vote in with your answer. A lot of you seem to think that the last thesis statement is the correct one, and you would be right. Leadership techniques have several benefits to employers and employees, including increased productivity, employee engagement, and reduced employee turnover. So, again, we see how this is, one, making an argument, and it's also previewing the body of the piece for the reader. We can see that there is going to be a section about how leadership techniques can increase productivity, how the leadership techniques can increase employee engagement, and how these leadership techniques can reduce employee turnover. Something like many companies are using leadership techniques, this is pretty open still, right? And it's also not the most argumentative statement.

As companies have leaders, it can be kind of assumed that they're using some technique for leadership, right? Looking at the third one, this paper will discuss how companies are using leadership techniques to benefit employees and employers. This is not an argumentative statement. This is informative. What you are telling the reader in the third example here is that I'm going to inform you about how these ‑‑ how using leadership techniques can benefit employers. This isn't really arguable. The fourth one then, this paper will explore the question of how companies are using leadership techniques to benefit employers and employees is similar to the third one, only it's worded differently. You're telling them that this is where this paper is going to go, but it's not really argumentative. I guess someone could come along and say, no, the paper isn't going to go there but that's not really the strong kind of academic argumentation that you need in a thesis statement. Again, somebody needs to be able to disagree with your points in a thesis statement, yeah. Good work though. Thank you for your participation and chiming in.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Evidence

  • Peer reviewed journals
  • Books
  • Scholarly websites

Use evidence to persuade your readers

Learn more:

Using Evidence

Audio: Turning then to the use of evidence. Evidence is, again, really elementally important to use within your writing. This is how you support your points. You're going to make claims in the body of your piece, evidence is what supports those claims. As we can see, there are a number of different kinds of evidence. We have peer review journals which are the strongest probably. We have books which are also very strong, and scholarly websites which are ‑‑ all three of these are very acceptable pieces of evidence to use. And again, this has a persuasive bend. You're providing support for your points. Why do you say this? Well, I say this because these three studies indicate that this is true or they supply evidence of this being the case. To learn more about this, you can check out our link in the middle of this slide regarding using evidence.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: When writing an argument:

  • Do:
  • Ground ideas in evidence from scholarly sources
  • Support your thesis with facts, statistics, and evidence
  • Analyze your evidence with logic and reason
  • Address the opposing side(s)
  • Refute the opposing side(s) with fairness and respect
  • Don’t:
  • Ground ideas in belief or opinion
  • Use phrases like “I think” or “I believe”
  • Support your thesis with moral claims
  • Assume readers will understand your points without analysis
  • Belittle the opposing side(s)

Audio: Okay. Yeah. So, when writing an argument, there are definitely some dos and don'ts. When writing an argument, do ground ideas in evidence from scholarly sources. Yeah. So, when you have ideas, when you're making an argument or subarguments, subpoints that support your argument, you really want to support these with scholarly research. You want to look at someone who has studied this before, who has looked at this at great length, which scholars have, who has even participated in a peer review process, which scholars have, in a peer editorial process, and so ‑‑ excuse me, and these then support your argument, they support your points. This is a strong and effective way to write an argumentative piece. You also want to support your thesis with facts, statistics. Yeah, these concrete, quantifiable things that other scholars have found, this is a great thing to do when crafting an argument. You also want to analyze your evidence with logic and reason, so you're also kind of picking up where maybe the statistics left off and you're adding your own interpretation of these statistics. This is an effective way to craft an argument as well. Addressing opposing viewpoints, this is another good thing to do when crafting an argument. You might say, why would I bring up an opposing viewpoint, doesn't that make me look contradictory or like I'm arguing both sides to a point? This is a good question, but actually it doesn't. When you bring in a counterargument, what you're doing is two‑fold. One, you're showing the reader that I've studied this so well that I've looked at both sides of this and the point that I am arguing is logically the strongest point. The other thing that counterarguments do is they give you the opportunity to respond to someone who disagrees with you in the context of your piece. You can, kind of assume that someone is going to disagree with you and you can anticipate the reasons maybe that they have. Responding to those reasons and to that counterargument makes your piece more persuasive, and in an academic context that makes for a stronger essay. Which gets us to this last point here. Refute the opposing sides with fairness and respect. Refuting a point or counterargument is important because, again, it makes your own point stronger. But treating opposing viewpoints with fairness and respect again adds to your authority to the reader because it shows that I'm not bias. I'm not trying to hamstring or oversimplify an opposing viewpoint. I'm taking this on in its entirety, I'm being fair to this opposing viewpoint in a way that someone who actually holds that view would agree with my characterization of it, and then I'm going on to say why my point is stronger. Yeah. These are some good dos or good techniques to do when crafting an academic argument.

Some don'ts, the dark side of crafting an academic argument maybe. You don't want to ground your ideas in belief or opinion. Yeah. This is something that I do encounter with students somewhat, but really you want to use evidence rather than belief, something that has been studied in more of a quantifiable way rather than something that's a little bit more aloof like belief or opinion. Anyone can have any opinion, it doesn't mean that it's supported by evidence or reason. You don't want to use phrases like "I think" or "I believe" this is again, kind of two‑fold. One to say, "I think" or "I believe" is redundant. You are the author of this piece so it's implied that what's argued here is what you think or what you believe. The other reason why you do not want to do this is that it implies or brings an implicit kind of doubt to your point. If you say "I think" what you're kind of implying to the reader is, I've looked at a lot of research and I think it says this. What you want to do is recognize that research points to this or that. It does say this. I don't think it says this. I don't believe it says this. It does. This is what the research points to. So, you want to be definitive in your write something what I'm getting at here. Don't support your thesis with moral claims. Yeah. Right or wrong, this isn't really what academic discourse is really about. It's about maybe ‑‑ not maybe. It's about showing evidence of one thing or another, bringing in a value judgment of right or wrong is really not what academic argumentation is about. You're there to make an argument and support that argument with evidence. It's for others to decide whether this is right or wrong. Don't assume readers will understand your points without analysis. Yeah, this is something I encounter quite a bit when readers use source material. They'll present a quote or paraphrase and not follow it up with any sort of analysis to show the reader how to interpret this piece of source material. As always with academic writing, your goal is to lead the reader through your argumentative points. Being as specific as you can and showing the reader how this evidence relates to the main idea of a paragraph or how this evidence is meant to be interpreted within the context of your argument is an effective strategy. Don't assume that they know what you mean. Tell them explicitly what you mean. Lastly, don't belittle exposing sides, what this does is this exposes you as a potentially bias author and it diminishes your credibility. If a reader encounters instances of bias language or oversimplification or hamstringing of opposing viewpoints, then they recognize you as being maybe a less trustworthy source because you're playing only one side of the argument and your discarding the other.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Sources of Evidence: Judging Quality

  • Good sources

Statistics and data

Studies and experiments

Facts supported by research

Peer-reviewed sources

  • Not the best sources

Anecdotes

Analogies

Personal experience

Popular magazines and opinion pieces

Learn more: Evaluating Resources

Audio: Yeah. When dealing with sources of evidence, it's really about judging the quality of this, right. Statistics in data, these empirical quantifiable pieces of evidence are really good. These are good sources of evidence that support your point in an effective way. Studies, experiments, things that can be duplicated is the term within the academic community. These are other good sources. Facts supported by research, again, these are effective. And peer reviewed sources are really important to use also. Think of this as, you know, the peer review process, a scholar is putting their ideas in front of other scholars, other experts within the field so if their ideas are not grounded in really fact or evidentiary support, this peer review process is going to quickly catch on to that and they're going to need to revise their study or it won't be published. So, this column on the left, these are good sources to use.

The column on the right then conversely are not good sources to use. Anecdotes or personal stories, these are ineffective because they don't necessarily represent a larger phenomena. If I say, stubbed my toe and there was a car accident out my window, these could seem like they're related, right. But they're not necessarily so. That doesn't mean that every time someone stubs their toe that this is going to happen. There is no causation there, right? Analogies, making kind of comparisons using similes or metaphors or using, kind of, visual language, comparative language. This is ineffective also. You want to say exactly what you mean. Personal experience, this is another ineffective piece of evidence to use within academic writing. Again, we want to study phenomenon on a larger scale. If your personal experience represents ‑‑ is representative of larger phenomena, then that's great. Then that phenomena that's been studied is what you want to use. Your personal experience doesn't necessarily point to that. Lastly, popular magazines and opinion pieces, yeah, these are ineffective sources as well. As they don't have this kind of peer review, strong, academic, editorial process. Opinion pieces don't necessarily represent the truth. They represent someone's opinion, so these are also ineffective sources.

To learn more about this, take a look at our link in the bottom left‑hand corner here on this slide regarding evaluating resources and this can kind of unpack this more, but again to kind of couch this in something that's easy to remember, sources that are peer reviewed and that use data collected through long study are good. Sources that offer opinion, that offer personal experience or anecdotes and analogies, these aren't good. These aren't necessarily based in fact.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Opinion versus Evidence

  • Opinion-based:

Today, many students have said that high school curricula are boring, unimaginative, and based on rote memorization.

  • Evidence-based:

Because high school history curricula are based on rote memorization, visual and kinetic learners often do not get the support they need (Smith, 2011).

Audio: So yeah, let's take a look here at opinion versus evidence. Our first statement is something that's opinion based. Today, many students have said that high school curricula are boring, unimaginative, and based on rote memorization. So, when I take a look at this as someone who works with writing, there are a couple of things here. One, how do you know that this is true? There’s no real evidentiary support for this. This is just a statement. This could be true it could be not. The other thing that I notice, many students have said, well who is many students? Right? This is being vague. Also, who studied this? Who is interviewing these students and how do I know that I can trust them? These are the questions that immediately entered my mind when I see this as a reader.

Taking a look at something that is more evidentiary support or evidentiarily supported or evidence‑based, let's take a look at this second statement. Because high school history curricula are based on rote memorization, visual and kinetic learners often do not get the support they need, and then we have our citation here from Smith, 2011. We can kind of see right off the bat that this is stronger. One, there is a source associated with this. Someone has looked at this, has studied this, and I can go if I choose to look up the Smith person and see what their credentials are and whether or not they have authority to talk about this process or this idea. It's also more specific. Visual and kinetic learners, so it's looking at a specific ‑‑ two specific types of learners and how they function within this environment of history classes or the curricula of history classes. The reader gets a much stronger belief that this is ‑‑ that this can be trusted. This is a very specific statement studying one thing rather than the opinion‑based statement which is kind of broad and it doesn't have this kind of credibility piece that including a citation brings to the second one.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Evidence + Analysis

According to recent data, 88% of online learners

report high satisfaction with the flexibility of their

courses (Roland, Guthrie, & Thome, 2012).

 

Chat: Write 1 sentence of analysis for this sentence.

Audio: Okay. Let's take a look at this slide regarding evidence and analysis. What I want you to do is take this piece of source material from Roland, Guthrie and Thome from 2012 and I want you to add some of your own analysis to it. One sentence. The original source material then is something like this. According to recent data, 88% of online learners report high satisfaction with the flexibility of their courses. Take a second. We'll take two to three minutes, three or four minutes maybe for you to put a one sentence of analysis into the box here, into the Chat Box. Interpret this for the reader. Provide some of your own analysis for this statement.

[Pause as students type]

Okay. We've got a couple of answers coming in here. Go ahead and put your own analysis to this. How would you interpret this for the reader? Yeah. I'll give you guys a couple more minutes to do this.

[Pause as students type]

All right. I'm seeing a lot of great answers here. A lot of you are focused on the idea of flexibility. Yeah. This is a good way to go about this. Here’s an example of how this could ‑‑ what kind of analysis could be brought to this piece.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Evidence + Analysis: Different Interpretations

According to recent data, 88% of online learners report high satisfaction with the flexibility of their courses (Roland, Guthrie, & Thome, 2012). Clearly, the vast majority of online learners have chosen to get their education online because of the flexibility it provides.

According to recent data, 88% of online learners report high satisfaction with the flexibility of their courses (Roland, Guthrie, & Thome, 2012). In other words, online higher education is meeting the flexibility needs of online learners.

Audio: Clearly, the vast majority of online learners have chosen to get their education online because of the flexibility it provides. Yeah. We're interpreting this data for the reader. A lot of you are right on the money with this. Good job. But again, your analysis would sound perhaps different from mine as you're an individual writer and you're bringing your own voice to this. There is more than one way to interpret data, and many of you were kind of in the same vein as mine, but again you used different language which is perfectly fine. Here’s another possible example. In other words, online higher education is meeting the flexibility needs of online learners. Sure. Again, we're showing the reader how to interpret this, how we mean for the reader to interpret this within the context of our larger discussion. Yeah. Good job.

 

Visual: Ways to Use Evidence: Quoting

Captures information from a source word for word

  • Must include:
    • Quotation marks
    • A citation
  • Kubista (2014) noted that “adult learners often are more motivated than traditional students” (p. 6).
  • Learn more: Using and Integrating Quotes

Audio: Okay. Ways to use evidence. Quoting, yeah quotation is a word‑for‑word copying of a source's language, it's presenting an idea from a source using the exact language of that source. Captures information from a source, again, it's word‑for‑word, you're using that exact source language. You must include quotation marks to show the reader what language exactly is coming from this source, you must also provide a citation and give that person credit for their own words and their own ideas. At the level you guys are at, you really want to keep quotation to a minimum, right. In terms of APA and especially higher education, paraphrase is favored to quotation for sure. But there are some cases in which quotation is acceptable. You can you take a look at some of these by clicking on our quoting link at the top of this slide or in the bottom‑right of the slide you can also learn more by clicking on the “Using and Integrating Quotes” link, but again, paraphrase is going to be preferred at the level you guys are at so this is what you really should focus on.

Here’s an example of a quote though. Kubista 2014 noted that adult learners are often more motivated than traditional students, end quote. This comes from Page 6. A couple of things to note here. One, this quote isn't just plopped into the sentence to the piece. We're introducing this. We're integrating this quote into a sentence. Also, when quoting, there should be some sort of page or paragraph number associated with that quote, so that should also be provided as part of the citation.

 

Visual: Ways to Use Evidence: Quoting Effectively

Avoid: A “dropped” quote:

“Patients trusted their providers and believed that their healthcare was safe and of high quality” (Hyman & Silver, 2012, p. 417).

Use: An integrated quote:

Hyman and Silver (2012) observed that “patients trusted their providers and believed that their healthcare was safe and of high quality” (p. 417).

Audio: Avoid a dropped quote. This is what I just talked about earlier. Here’s an example of this. Patients trusted their providers and believed that their healthcare was safe and of high quality, and we have our citation at the end. Again, this is going to appear kind of jarring for the reader. You want to take this quotation and really weave it into a sentence that keeps the flow of your piece. So, don't just drop a quote in. Work it or integrate it is the word we often use, into a sentence. Here’s what that would look like. Hyman and Silver 2012, observed that patients trusted their providers and believed that their healthcare was safe and of high quality, and we have the page number at the end. As you can see, this author is integrating this quote into a sentence. They're not just pulling source material from a source, the source language from that source and inserting it into, their writing. They're actually working with that quotation. This is an effective way to go about using a quote.

 

Visual: Ways to Use Evidence: Paraphrasing

Captures information from a source

in your own words

  • Must:
  • Use your own phrasing and wording
    • Include a citation

Adults, more often than younger students, are motivated to learn (Kubista, 2014).

Learn more: Paraphrasing Source Information

Audio: Now, paraphrasing is very similar to a quotation only you're putting the idea from the source into your own words. That's the kind of big thing with paraphrasing, you're putting it into your own words. You must use your own phrasing and wording, so what that means is you need to change both the words that are used within the sentence and the structure of that sentence for this to be considered an effective and a complete paraphrase. You also include a citation with a paraphrase, and this is done for a number of reasons. But again, I'm going to get into these on the next slide, but paraphrasing is really favored to quotation in APA and in higher education in general. For more help doing this, you can take a look at your Paraphrasing Link in the middle of this slide or on the bottom right, you can take a look at the Paraphrasing Source Information link, both of these are very helpful and can help you to become better paraphrasers and to work paraphrasing into your writing more effectively.

Here is an example of a paraphrase. Adults more often than younger students are motivated to learn. So, although this author is not taking any specific language from this source, they are still citing the source. I think it's pretty clear, it's pretty easy to grasp that if you're using someone's language that you need to give them credit for that language, but in academic writing people also get credit for the ideas that they have, for the ideas that they publish, so when using an idea that you take from a source, you also need to include a citation and give credit to that scholar.

 

Visual: Why do we paraphrase?

  • Helps you work through your own ideas
  • Shows readers that you understand the source information
  • Helps your readers see your academic voice

Audio: Here’s some reasons which paraphrasing is an effective maneuver and kind of why it's favored within APA. This helps you work through your own ideas. So, it's kind of the old adage, you understand something better if you explain it to someone else. This is how I thought about paraphrasing and understanding research in general in my past research projects. If you imagine someone who doesn't know anything or very much about this topic, putting it into your own words is going to help them understand it, and in kind of an interesting cerebral way, it helps you understand it as well. It also shows the reader that you understand the source information. Yeah, if I can put it into my own words again, I'm demonstrating this understanding. I don't need to use the words of the author to get this point across. I understand it so well that I can say it in my own words, and it helps your readers see your academic voice. This has implications for a flow to a great degree within your writing. You're able to bring your own academic voice to these ideas so the reader isn’t encountering a sentence or two of your academic voice and then a sentence or two of another's academic voice or source material, and then you return to your own academic voice. This is kind of jarring for the reader and will break your flow within a document. Paraphrasing allows you to incorporate the ideas from a source while still keeping your own academic voice in that paragraph, or in that series of sentences.

 

Visual: Organizing Arguments

Learn more: Structure of an Argument

Audio: Okay. Organizing arguments then. This is a pretty important thing within academic writing, right. How you organize an argument can, again, affect how persuasive it is. So, to take a look, maybe after this webinar you can take a look at this structure of an argument link that we have on this slide. This is helpful, but I'm going to kind of go through these ideas in here.

 

Visual: Essential Elements: 5 Paragraph Essay

  • Introduction
    • Introduce topic (optional: present opposing side, or do elsewhere)
    • Thesis
  • Body Paragraph 1
  • Claim 1 (reason thesis is true)
  • Support with evidence
  • Body Paragraph 2
  • Claim 2 + support
  • Body Paragraph 3
    • Claim 2 + support
  • Conclusion
  • Wrap up: Reiterate thesis and main points

HOWEVER, the number and order of body paragraphs depend on

 the paper’s length and thesis.

Audio: So, what we have here is kind of a basic five‑paragraph outline for an essay that you might write. We start with an introduction, so, we're going to introduce a topic, perhaps presenting an opposing side, maybe even presenting some background information. This then

from introducing a topic and lastly you lead down and present a thesis statement, so you're showing them what you're going to be arguing in this piece. Your three body paragraphs then are each going to unpack a claim or a reason why you believe your thesis is true. They're going to provide support for that claim using scholarly evidence. We see this done in the five‑paragraph format. You're going to do this in three paragraphs, and then in the conclusion you're going to wrap up by reiterating or paraphrasing your thesis and then leading the reader back through your main points. You want to avoid using any new ideas, bringing up anything new within your conclusion, it’s really meant to lead the reader out of your piece in the same way the introduction leads the reader in. Sure. Now, I don't want you to really be kind of too married to the five‑paragraph format. At the level of writing you guys are at, you need to have more than three body paragraphs, right. There’s going to be more than three supports for the theses that you're working with as you're working with some pretty complex and nuanced topics, and so this is just meant to be a very kind of rudimentary or simple example of an outline to kind of be a jumping‑off point for us.

 

Visual: Organizing Claims from Broad to Specific

  • General, broad, background information
  • More specific evidence and claims
  • Most specific, narrow, and pointed evidence and claims

Audio: It's a good idea to organize your claims from broad to specific, so starting broad with kind of a general point, a broad point, or maybe even some background information coming after your introduction section. Then as you go through your essay, you get more specific, providing more specific evidence and claims. And then lastly, leaving the reader in your last body paragraph with your most specific, narrow and pointed evidence of that claim. What this does is it kind of packs a punch for the reader. If you think of the end of your piece as being what the reader is most likely to remember or take from your piece, you want to leave them with that strongest point, with your most specific, most pointed evidence as to why your thesis is correct or true. Yeah.

 

Visual: Organizing Claims Example

Claims start broad and get more specific

  • Introduction
    • Thesis: Childhood obesity negatively affects children’s overall health as well as their academic achievement.
  • Body Paragraph 1
  • Claim: Childhood obesity is prevalent
  • Body Paragraph 2
  • Claim: Childhood obesity causes diabetes
  • Body Paragraph 3
    • Claim: Childhood obesity causes heart disease
  • Body Paragraph 4
  • Claim: Childhood obesity causes lower grades

Audio: Here’s what this could look like in a paper in something like an outline format. Again, we're back to the example of childhood obesity. So here the thesis statement, after we would introduce the idea of childhood obesity, we would then present our thesis statement, childhood obesity negatively affects children's overall health as well as their academic achievement. We would then go on to lay out three claims that support this thesis. One, childhood obesity is prevalent so it exists, you're establishing a problem. Two, childhood obesity causes diabetes, so we're getting into this health part of this thesis. Three, childhood obesity causes heart disease, so we're again getting more specific. And lastly childhood obesity causes lower grades, so again we're covering the ground that we said we would in our thesis statement, getting more specific as we go throughout the piece. This is an effective way to organize an argument.

 

Visual: Organizing Claims Example

Sections start broad and get more specific

  • Introduction
    • Early education training affects how Israeli students perceived daycare centers and how influential these centers are on child development.
  • Section 1
  • Overview summary of themes in the literature (background).
  • Section 2
  • Early childhood education in Israel
  • Section 3
    • Training educational staff in daycare centers in Israel
  • Section 4
  • Perceptions of Israeli education students about the care of students
  • Section 5
  • Limits and opportunities of applying these conclusion to other populations
  • Conclusion
    • Need for more research; review of main points

Audio: To be even more complicated, and this would be an outline that might reflect a paper that you guys would write better. It could look something like this. In your introduction, your thesis statement would look something like this. Early education training affects how Israeli students perceive daycare centers and how influential these centers are on child development.

So then in our first section, we're going to get an overview, a summary of themes in the literature or background. This also could also be thought of as a literature review. You're showing the reader what's been said about this topic, you're giving them enough background information that they can then understand your argument fully. In the second section then, early childhood education in Israel, again, you're giving them some sort of context for how to view your argument. Section three is going to get more specific. You're going to discuss training educational staff in daycare centers in Israel, so some of these training techniques that were mentioned in your thesis statement. Section four, some perceptions of Israeli education students ‑‑ excuse me, perceptions of Israeli education students about the care of children, so we're getting more specific then still. And our last body section, we're going to discuss some of the limits and opportunities for applying these conclusions to other populations, sure. And then lastly in our conclusion, we're going to perhaps articulate the need for more research in this field and really walk the reader back through our main points quickly, showing them where this piece has gone. Yeah. You can see in this again, we're going from broad to more specific. We're leaving the reader in section five with our best, most narrow, most pointed argumentative point.

 

Visual: Revising Arguments

Learn more:

Improving Your Writing: Strategies for Revising, Proofing, and Using Feedback

WriteCast Episode 14: The 5 Rs of Revision (podcast)

Audio: Okay. Revision then. Everyone's favorite part of writing, returning to your writing and making it better. I mean, I say that kind of jokingly, but this is really where good writing happens. You know, I think people think that good writers wake up in the morning feeling really good about themselves and what they have to say and then they sit down and they just from beginning to end, they just say it they just put it on paper. Really, this is something, that is not how it works. Even really good writers return to their work, revising it, reorganizing it to make it stronger. To learn more about some revising, we have a couple of links here that can help you, Improving Your Writing: Strategies for Revising, Proofing and Using Feedback. We also have a WriteCast episode, the 5 R’s of revision this is a podcast. These are some good resources, I encourage you to check them out if you have struggled in the past or if you just want to learn more about revising.

 

Visual: Tips for Revising Arguments

  • Keep your thesis in mind and ask: Does this point or evidence relate to or support my thesis?

Tip: Copy and paste your thesis statement on a blank page so you don’t lose sight of it.

  • Don’t be afraid to find new evidence or tweak your thesis if they don’t match

Tip: A thesis doesn’t have to stay the same throughout the writing process!

  • Check that you are pairing evidence with analysis
  • Try using the MEAL plan

Learn more: The MEAL plan

Audio: Here are some tips for revising. One, keep your thesis in mind and does this point or evidence relate to or support my thesis? Yeah, so you always want to have your thesis statement in mind as you're revising. Copy and paste your thesis statement on a blank page so you don't lose sight of it, sure, that's a great technique. Yeah. Don't be afraid to find new evidence or tweak your thesis if they don't match. This is a really, really good strategy. This is how you make a stronger argument. If you find evidence that complicates your thesis and you come to another conclusion that is different from your original thesis but is better, this makes for a better piece. This makes for better ‑‑ a better argumentative point. Again, a thesis doesn't have to stay the same throughout the writing process. This gets a bit at what I was talking about earlier. Let your research guide your thesis. You know, don't start with a thesis and then try to find evidence that supports that thesis. You know, we start a research project with a question, right? Not with something that we need to prove. This gets at that idea. Another tip for revising arguments, check that you are pairing evidence with analysis, yeah. Always be specific as to how you want the reader to interpret this analysis or interpret this piece of source material. Don't assume that they get what you mean. Be explicit about what you mean and what you need for them to take from that. A good way to make sure that you're doing this is by using MEAL plan paragraph structure and there’s a look at the bottom right that discusses that and unpacks that further.

 

Visual: Outlining Arguments

Outlining: Sketching out the structure and order of your paper before you write it à Useful for planning

Reverse Outlining: Sketching out the structure and order of your paper after you write it à Useful for revising

Audio: Outlining, this is what we were looking at when we were looking at some of those breakdowns of sections and becoming more specific. An outline is really sketching out the structure and order of your paper before you write it. It's very useful for planning, and why it's so useful is, one, if you know where you're going, it's easier to get there, right? Two, when you're outlining its easier to make these bigger organizational changes. If it's just a sentence on a piece of paper to move a section, you know, from your third section to your first section, that's very low stakes, it doesn't cost you a lot of time or effort to do that. Now, if you've written an entire piece and you start to realize that, you know, maybe this section would fit better over here, then you're going to have to put in a great deal more work to make that fit and to make your piece kind of flow together with transitions. So using an outline before you write is a good way to kind of check your organization before you put in too much work, before you have gotten too deep into your project into actually writing a draft. Similarly, a reverse outline, it can do this once you've written. You're sketching out the structure and order of your paper after you write it. This is very useful for revising, and this can be done with, you know, maybe a trusted colleague or another person, but really what reverse outlining is, is going through and reading a paragraph or a section and extracting from it the main idea, seeing that it went where you needed it to go, if that makes sense. For more on this, you can take a look at the reverse outline link that's in the middle of the slide, but I’d recommend this in terms of revision. This kind of helps you see the organization that you've actually laid out once you've drafted. Sometimes as you're drafting a piece, it can be ‑‑ your organization or your overall kind of strong structure can get a little bit muddled. Reverse outlining can expose this problem to you and really allow you to go back and fix it then.

 

Visual: Questions:

Now: Let us know!    ·          Anytime: writingsupport@waldenu.edu

Continue the conversation on Twitter with #wcwebinars

Interested in further developing your skills in writing arguments?

Check out these recorded webinars: Writing Strong Thesis Statements & Writing Effective Academic Paragraphs

Audio: Okay, we're going to turn to some questions here, but before we do, you know, by all means throw a question in the Chat Box right now and I'm happy to answer those for the next few minutes here. If a question comes to you after the session that you’d like to ask or if you're listening to this recording and you have a question. Feel free to reach out to this writing support email, writingsupport@waldenu.edu. This is kind of our general Q&A email address for the writing center and we are happy to field your questions. If you're interested in further developing your skills in writing arguments, there are a couple of links here at the bottom that can help you even further, writing strong thesis statements, which I think was previously in this piece, or writing effective academic paragraphs would be a good one to look the a as well. Again, these are elements of argumentation that I discussed somewhat, but if you’d like a bit more clarification or a bit more of an in‑depth discussion of this, by all means these are good resources for you. So, with that then, I'll ask you, Kacy, are there any questions?

Kacy: Yeah. Thanks so much, Michael. This is really great. One question is talking about bias a little bit. You mentioned that you want to avoid bias. Can you talk about how you do that when you are making an argument? Doesn't making an argument automatically give you some kind of bias?

Michael: That's a great question. And bias in general is a very ‑‑ it's a complicated topic, right. Now, you want to appear objective to the reader. That's kind of the main point, but the truth is that everyone has bias, right. By virtue of the fact that you're making an argument, you are taking a side here. Sure. But again, you want to limit this. You want to present an image to the reader that you have considered both sides of an argument and that you are choosing the one that's logically the best, that makes the most logical sense. So, limiting bias is really what I'm talking about. By incorporating counterargument, by using non‑combative, respectful language, by not belittling the work of others that you don't agree with, these are ways that you diminish bias within your writing. Yeah. Does that answer your question?

Kacy: Yeah. I think that's really helpful. That's just kind of the overall tone, right, is I don't want to sound like I'm making this claim without taking into consideration any other sides, right?

Michael: Yeah. Yeah.

Kacy: And then just one more quick question. You've provided some great pointers for kind of smaller pieces, like the five‑paragraph essay and you mentioned that lots of times we're going to need to write more than five paragraphs. Do you have any advice for stretching this out a little bit to larger projects such as dissertations or capstone projects?

Michael: Sure. Sure. Yeah. That's a great question, too. The essay or the argumentation kind of formatting that we went through here, although it appeared to be kind of simple and didn't have a lot of claims (In audible). So, although the structure I was discussing is fairly simple, the same sort of concepts apply. You want to lead the reader ‑‑ you want to introduce your topic and lead the reader in an introduction section, even in a dissertation or capstone document, then providing that strong thesis statement, your main argument of the piece. You do this, you know again, to give the reader the information that they need to fully understand your point. Then, the next section in a larger piece would be something like a literature review. This shows the reader what's already out there, what's already been studied about this piece, and in a way, it provides even more background information for the reader. As you work then more specifically in the sections of your capstone or in the sections of your dissertation, you're really going to be laying out your own argument and supporting that with evidence. So again, although we were looking even at a five‑paragraph format outline, these concepts do work equally well in larger documents, so yeah.

Kacy: Great. Thank you so much, and thank you all so much for attending this webinar. If we weren't able to get to your questions in the Q&A Box, please again send those to writingsupport@waldenu.edu. We really appreciate hearing from you, all of your great suggestions and all of your great questions. With that, thank you so much, Michael, and we hope to see you again at another webinar.