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Session 4

Academic Writing 3 – The language of argument

It's time for Academic Writing – the course that gives you the tools you need to become an effective writer in your studies. In the area of academic writing we're looking at this time, it's super-important to get your words right; we're looking at the language of argument!

Sessions in this unit

Session 4 score

0 / 8

  • 0 / 4
    Activity 1
  • 0 / 4
    Activity 2

Activity 1

Arguing – in the academic sense

In academic writing, getting your point across is crucial. But you have to make sure the language you use isn't too informal – or even rude. Scroll down and try these activities to work on your language of argument.

Try the activity

A language of argument glossary

Let's start by looking at some key terms and concepts related to academic arguments.

claim
The claim is the point you are making. For example:

The use of 3D technology in the film Avatar transformed the way big-budget movies are made.

This is not a fact. Other people might have a different opinion. Therefore you need to support this claim with evidence.

justification
What about justification? It is the logical thinking that explains why the evidence supports the claim. It’s sometimes called the warrant. In many cases, the justification is not actually written down as part of the argument, as it an obvious assumption or widely held belief. The warrant here could be:

Because Avatar used 3D technology in a new, ambitious way and achieved great financial success, other big-budget movies copied this technique in the hope they would make more money. In this way, Avatar changed the film industry, and transformed audience expectations.

counter-arguments
Arguments can also include counter-arguments.

This is where you anticipate potential rejections of your argument.

Many other big-budget films after Avatar have not employed 3D. The James Bond movie, Spectre, made almost $900m in cinemas in 2015. Therefore, you don’t need to be 3D to be successful.

Avatar did not invent the 3D film. The first commercially released 3D film was The Power of Love, produced in 1922.

evidence
The evidence is the data or information you use to support your claim.

Avatar used 3D technology in a more ambitious way than ever before.
Avatar earned $2.8bn in cinemas around the world, more than any other movie in history.
After Avatar, the number of big-budget feature films using 3D technology increased dramatically (Motion Picture Association of America, 2017).
Six out of the ten most popular films shown in the UK in 2016 were available in 3D.

These pieces of evidence may be drawn from many different sources. When including the work of others, you need to reference it.

limitations
In certain kinds of academic papers, it’s important to include what we call limitations. If you are reporting and analysing the results of a survey, for example, you need to talk about the weakest areas of your study. This could be related to the methodology or sample size, for instance:

This study was limited by the small sample size…

Identifying key concepts

Now you've had a look at the key concepts, let's check what you've understood! Try the next activity and see if you can identify the claim, evidence, counter-argument and warrant!

To do

We've taken a paragraph from an essay on law and order and split it into three parts – can you spot the claim, evidence, counter-argument and warrant? When you've finished, scroll down to check your answers by doing the quiz.

Part 1
Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by guns than citizens of other developed countries (The American Journal of Medicine, 2016). Over 20% of Americans own guns, and the total number of firearms in the country is 265 million, more than one weapon for each adult (Azreal et al, 2016).

Part 2
While some argue that guns are a deterrent against crime, or that it is their right to bear arms, public opinion is now turning towards stricter gun control, with 52% in favour (Pew Research Center, 2017).

Part 3
This paper contends that in order to reduce gun crime, the simplest and most effective way is to control sales to the general public.

Which part was which?

4 Questions

Match the parts of the argument above to check you've identified the key concepts of argument language correctly.

Congratulations you completed the Quiz
Excellent! Great job! Bad luck! You scored:
x / y

Which part was which?

4 Questions

Match the parts of the argument above to check you've identified the key concepts of argument language correctly.

Congratulations you completed the Quiz
Excellent! Great job! Bad luck! You scored:
x / y

Next

So that's goes into a good academic argument. Let's use this knowledge to analyse other people's arguments. Go to the next activity page and see if you can spot the better argument!

Session Vocabulary

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    claim
    the point you are making

    justification
    the logical thinking that explains why the evidence supports the claim

    counter-arguments
    where you anticipate potential rejections of your argument

    evidence
    the data or information you use to support your claim