How to Write an Argumentative Essay

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Introduction:

As the name suggests, an argumentative essay requires you to pick a side or take a stance on a particular issue or subject matter and argue against other counter opinions and vein of thoughts. A decent argumentative essay lays down the rationality of the position or stance in a clear and formidable manner and convinces the reader to see the legitimacy of the writer’s argument. Whether you are writing for a school assignment or college project or to garner the attention of professional publications or just as a creative outlet, you should familiarize yourself with some basics of how to write an argumentative essay. This article provides a simple yet comprehensive guide. Here we have discussed some valuable tools and techniques which will help you construct a good argumentative essay.


Choose an appropriate topic

The obvious first step in writing an argumentative essay is to choose a suitable topic. However, it is not an easy nut to crack. You have to keep certain aspects in mind. First, the topic must not be abstract or subjective. There must be some semblance of objectivity in it. For instance, the utility of a normal toothbrush over an electric toothbrush is not a suitable topic for a qualitative argument as there is no objective superiority of one over the other. There are no scientific studies that support the notion that a manual toothbrush is better than the electric one. Therefore, it is just a matter of personal opinion and preference. It is pivotal to choose an objectively concrete topic that has sufficient evidence and reasoning behind it. For example, there is an overwhelming consensus in the scientific community that climate change is a man-made catastrophe. It is prudent to argue that investments in renewable energy should be undertaken on a massive scale even though it is comparatively expensive than fossil fuels. It is because the underlying point is that we have to move in an environmentally sustainable direction to survive. This kind of objective argument supported with statistical evidence is the crux of how to write an argumentative essay.


How to use mind-mapping to select a suitable topic

A mind map is a visual representation of your thoughts and opinions. It can be drawn in the form of a rough sketch that outlines the key areas of your thought-process. You can design a mind map yourself on paper or you can use a software. A mind-map helps you to collect and organize your thoughts in a systematic manner.

Mind mapping techniques can help you finalize a topic that is supported with substantial qualitative research however, still provides enough space for you to contribute new insights and observations. It is wise to choose a topic of interest. Your curiosity will inspire you to obtain a singular viewpoint.

Construct a mind map by writing My topic in the center and noting down on one side, general essay ideas that you have recently encountered either in the class or on the news or social media. Now note down ideas that you are personally interested in exploring on the other side of the map.

Look for any intersection or commonalities among these two sets of topics. Accumulate certain ideas that are both currently relevant as well as interesting for you to write than start comparing the merits and demerits of those ideas against each-other eliminating weaker ideas until one remains. You have successfully selected your topic.


Do in-depth research

To formulate a compelling argument you must undertake extensive research. You must look for scientific data as well as public archival documentation relevant to your topic. You should go through studies and research papers related to your topic published by reputed universities and publications. This detailed research and analysis provide credence to your arguments and make them authentic. Concrete facts will back-up your stance and make your arguments bulletproof. Evidence-based writing evokes trustworthiness among the readers making your essay quite impactful.


How to conduct quality research using mind-mapping

Mind-mapping streamlines the various sources of several arguments and their corresponding counter-arguments. It simplifies the complex process of research and review by consolidating various aspects of information into a cohesive structure.

You may construct separate mind maps for different sources or make a common mind-map that documents all the sources. Create distinct branches that represent different pages, paragraphs, and quotations, that you have incorporated in your essay. Employ colorful icons to accentuate the relationship between the arguments and the research supporting those arguments.

You may also organize the sources based on their application in your essay. This is beneficial to paint an overall picture of the source material at your disposal. It will help you to stick to the point and eliminate unnecessary information or repetition.


Types of structure

Primarily, there are three types of approaches that are followed to construct a quality argumentative essay. You may choose one amongst these, or can combine any two or all of them based on the kind of topic you have selected.

1. Classical:

Under the classical approach you present your stance and provide every possible argument to support that stance and prove all other counterarguments wrong. It is the most commonly followed approach as it is straightforward and easy for mass readers to understand. It provides the facts and evidence in a precise manner to provide clarity to the readers as to why the writer believes what he believes. The topic mentioned earlier about renewable energy v/s fossil fuels falls under this category. This kind of topic requires you to unconditionally support renewable sources of energy and rebuke all arguments favoring fossil fuels because the evidence in this case, is stark and there is no room for contradiction.

2. Rogerian:

In this approach, the writer while presenting the argument, must also acknowledge the counter-argument. The Rogerian structure is followed when the topic of argument is complex and has a lot of grey areas or blind spots on which there is no concrete evidence available to unilaterally oppose all counterarguments. Still, the writer must try to put forward his point-of-view and state why he thinks it is most valid under the current circumstances. A good example would be the debate around the potential of nuclear as an option to satisfy energy needs v/s possible risks involved in the large-scale production of nuclear energy. You might argue that technology has evolved immensely and now nuclear is one of the safest and cleanest forms of energy that we must explore as an alternative to fossil fuels. However, you must also address the doubts that people have regarding its usage as a weapon. There are safety concerns about nuclear getting into the wrong hands and getting turned into arms and ammunition. These dangers must be included and you must acknowledge the legitimacy of this particular counter-argument.

3. Toulmin:

This approach involves presenting your claim and the basis or the grounds on which the claim stems from. Then the grounds are justified through establishing the bond between the claim and those grounds. This type of strategy is effective to handle polarizing topics as rather coming off as divisive, it communicates the point-of-view of the writer or makes it clear where he is coming from. Unlike Rogerian, here the legitimacy of only one side is elaborated. The grounds for the argument are enunciated and substantiated to validate the argument beyond a shadow of a doubt. The debate around healthcare in the U.S. serves as an excellent example. Because it is a polarizing topic, instead of just stating that government-provided healthcare is better than private insurance, your argument must focus on the grounds based on which you have arrived at your stance. So for instance, you should mention that in a public health care system there are no middlemen involved which lower the overall cost as compared to private insurance that operates on profit-margins. Forming your argument in this way you can convince the reader that it is actually fiscally conservative to opt for a government-run healthcare model. The reader is more likely to consider your point-of-view if you explain how you became convinced in the first place.

Create an outline

The structure of an essay must be simple enough to be understood by readers at large. The point-of-view of an argumentative essay must be conveyed along with logic and confirmation. A prudent structure guides how to write an argumentative essay:-

1. Introduction:

The first paragraph must introduce the reader to the topic, provide some background and state the thesis of your argument.

2. The thesis statement:

A Thesis statement is a single sentence that condenses the topic to represent your stance/position/claim with clarity. It comes usually at the end of the introductory paragraph.

3. Body:

Conventionally, the body of an argumentative essay comprises of two to three paragraphs. You must lay down the logic based on which you are advocating this particular position on the topic. This is done by citing down facts and evidence in the form of research findings, statistics, and instances. Every paragraph must rebuke a different counter-argument that you think the reader might come up with while reading the essay.

4. Conclusion:

The conclusion must reiterate your thesis and condense all the arguments you made in the body paragraphs to present them in a nutshell. All the main points are rounded off with some personal anecdotes to underline the writer’s conviction on the stance. Reading the conclusion, no doubt shall remain in the reader’s mind as to the validity of the argument.


How to create an outline using Mind-mapping

Mind-map provides a great platform to formulate the outline and organize the structure of your argumentative essay. It is because it facilitates a visual sketch of your entire material. It also binds the individual topics with their relevant research which allows you to integrate the research to avoid divergence or incongruence in your writing and ensure consistency and specificity throughout the essay.

Mind-maps allows you to take notes and formulate deadlines along the way to prevent any delay. You can extract the complete structure as a Word document as use it as a foundation for your essay.


Conclusion

You will find that by following this step-by-step guide and implementing mind-mapping techniques as mentioned above, how to write an argumentative essay is not a hard nut to crack. An argumentative essay not only reveals extensive knowledge and command on a particular topic, but it also gives a glimpse into your overall thought process. A well-made argument requires critical thinking and logical reasoning abilities along with good communication. Your well-written essay must reflect all these characteristics.