Crafting an argument
Argument! This is a word many students hear, but struggle to understand and enact in their writing. Argument are crafted, chapter by chapter and section by section of a thesis or paper, and this is a time-consuming and iterative process. Building on the video on this site entitled ‘Thesis as Argument’, this more practical material offers two tools students can use, adapt and build on as they plan, craft and refine their own arguments over the course of the research and writing process. Together with several recommended blog posts and a worksheet, students will be able to follow a structured process that will clarify, and make achievable, the development of a clear, well-supported argument that shows, rather than tells, readers what their research contributes to their field.
Who might find this useful?
This material is for supervisors, postgraduate support staff and students, as the development of strong argument in thesis writing is a task that requires input, collaboration, constructive feedback, prompting, and iterative revisions throughout the research process. It can be used well in supervision session, support workshops, and by students working on their own, with the accompanying worksheet.
Explore these additional resources
- Thesis as Argument (internal website link)
Useful blog posts on arguments:
- How to argue like a pro: https://thesiswhisperer.com/2016/11/09/better-than-donald-how-to-argue-like-a-pro/
- Research as an argument: https://patthomson.net/2011/07/30/research-as-an-argument/
- Argument as a ‘golden thread’: http://wp.me/p3VNfn-7F
Questions for users:
- For supervisors/PG support staff: What insights do you have from examining or supervising PG research specifically about the nature of arguments, and how to make these well that you can turn into constructive advice and tips for your students? How do you make arguments in your own writing – can you share your process with your students in ways that could help them?
- For students: Take one or both of these plotting tools, set out for you in the attached worksheet, and plot your argument. Consider, if you get stuck, what you are stuck on and why. Make some notes if you are having difficulties, and take them to your supervisor/s, and perhaps also peers or a postgraduate support person, and ask for help so that you can move forward constructively.