What is building an argument in academic writing?
In many of your assignments, you will be asked to build an argument. This means to have a viewpoint or a stance and then be able to construct a logically written or constructed piece of work to back up your views. For academic work, building an argument will go beyond stating what you personally think about a subject. In academic writing, the key to building an argument is to collect a broad range of sources or references that will help support your viewpoints. In fact, it's almost mandatory! You will generally need to find references, usually by authoritative industry experts (such as books, articles, interviews, etc) that mirror, prove or go along with your views.
How to build an argument
Once you know your assignment question or topic you can start researching that topic. You should try and read or digest as much relevant material about the subject as you can. That way you will build a solid knowledge base that will enable you to form your own opinion.
Develop a thesis
Once you have read enough on the topic you should start to have your own ideas and theories or stance on the subject. Critical Thinking will also help with the development of your own views.
Record down material that supports your thesis
As you read through the material that you have researched you can note down ideas and views from authors that support your own argument.
Explore opposing viewpoints
When writing academically it is important to consider other aspects all aspects of the topic, even those views that conflict with your own. When writing a solid argumentative essay you can then aim to disprove these opposing views with evidence from your research.
Now you have your readings and notes, write out a plan of how you will answer your assignment question. For more, see Essay Structure.
Back up your opinions
In a higher learning environment having your own opinions is important - it shows that you can move beyond simply describing the text to form a deeper understanding of the course content. However, in academic writing it is vital to reference other literature that helps to support why you have come to your conclusions. You need to be able to state your case using examples from authoritative authors.
Important to note!
When writing academically it is important to consider all aspects of the topic, even those views that conflict with your own. Try not to become “blinkered” to one idea just because it is easy. It is important to note, compare and analyse different views to gain a full understanding of the breadth of issues surrounding the topic. Being able to discuss a broad range of issues that affect or relate to the topic will add depth to your assignment and some assessments will require it. For more, see Critical Thinking and Reflection.