Academic Argument: Adding Your Voice to the Conversation

Overview.Now that you have researched and explained an issue, you are ready to write an argument. The argument you write for this assignment will be an academic, source-based argument. You may use the sources you and your group members found, but you should continue to find new sources to support your argument and represent the conversation on the issue. Furthermore, your argument should add something unique or new to the conversation and not just repeat someone else's argument.

Purpose. To convince readers to accept your thesis.

Audience. The audience for this argument is academic so it includes your instructor, yourself, your peers, and other members of the community who are engaged in conversations about the issue (or should be) and who expect a clear, logical argument that remains focused on proving a thesis.  These readers expect that an argument is well-researched and that the argument is supported with reasons and evidence. They want to see that you are familiar with the conversation on the issue and how your argument contributes to that conversation.  In addition, such readers require full citations for all sources you use. Your audience also expects your writing to be free from errors.  You’ll need to consider these readers' expectations as you write your argument.

Subject. Write your argument about the issue you just investigated or on an issue another group in this class just investigated. If you choose your group’s issue, you may use your own sources and your group members’ sources, as well as sources you continue to find.  If you choose another group’s issue, you will need to read that group’s annotated bibliography to familiarize yourself with the issue, then read relevant sources from it and from additional research you do. Show your readers you have listened to a range of voices in the conversation on the issue and can effectively address viewpoints that differ from your own.

Author. Present yourself as a knowledgeable, fair-minded, credible and, as appropriate, empathetic person.  You do not need to be an expert on your issue to write an argument, but you do need to have confidence in what you do know and believe about it.  Show that you approach the issue with enthusiasm, curiosity and an open mind.

Strategies. To achieve your purpose with your audience, be sure to:


Format: Your paper should be formatted according to MLA conventions.  This includes MLA-style heading and page numbers, parenthetical citations within your paper for all sources used (quotes, paraphrases, facts, ideas, etc.) and a Works Cited page at the end of your paper. 

To Submit: [Insert directions indicating how the assignment should be submitted.]

Length: 5 to 6 pages, double-spaced (not including Works Cited).

Sources: At least 5.

Due: ___, November ___, at the beginning of class.

Worth: 25% of your semester grade or 250 points.

Academic Argument Grading Rubric

Excellent (5)

Satisfactory (4)

Unsatisfactory (3)


Logos. Appeals to logic in this argument are effective because:

  • Central claim is clearly stated and appropriately qualified.
  • Reasons effectively support central claim, and concrete evidence develops reasons.
  • Connections between claims and reasons, and between reasons and evidence, are clearly stated.
  • Argument is organized in a coherent, linear fashion.
  • Background information and definition of key terms meets the needs of intended readers.

The appeal to reason is generally effective but would benefit from revision to clarify reasoning and/or to provide additional  evidence and/or to explain how and why reasons and evidence supports your claim.

The appeal to reason is not effective because your reasoning is unclear or faulty and/or the argument lacks sufficient support, sufficient, relevant evidence, or connections between claim and support.  The claim may change or is not maintained.


Ethos. Appeals to character in this argument are effective because:

  • Source authority and credibility is presented explicitly and cited formally.
  • Tone and language are fair and evenhanded.

While your readers may have moments of doubt about your character, they will find you trustworthy.

Readers will be skeptical about your character because of the sources you cite, a lack of citation, how you deal (or don't) with other perspectives.


Alternative Arguments: Specific alternative viewpoints are fairly represented and responded to effectively.

Alternative viewpoints could be better represented OR receive a more effective response.

Alternative viewpoints are not represented, are misrepresented, and/or do not receive an effective response.


Conventions & Style: A well-informed, academic audience’s expectations are met effectively because:

  • Correct MLA citations are used, in text and in Works Cited page.
  • Prose is clear, direct, and free of sentence-level errors.

Your paper is generally readable but would benefit from more careful proofreading & editing and/or correct MLA citation.

Readers will have difficulty understanding your meaning or accepting your claim because your paper needs to pay closer attention to conventions and to readers' needs.


Overall Effectiveness: The cumulative effect of this argument is one of thoroughness and unity, leaving well-informed readers likely to accept or at least consider your central claim very seriously.

Readers will be inclined to consider or accept your claim, but the argument and/or appeals could be more effective.

Readers are not likely to accept your claim—you may not have a clear sense of audience and/or purpose.


Total points = _____/250