Appendix 25: Argumentative Brief Assignment Sheet

An argumentative brief is an initial representation of your argument that is done at the "outlining" stage of your writing process. The brief shows the claim and reasons that you plan to use, as well as some indication of how you will support each reason with evidence. The brief should indicate how you plan (tentatively) to arrange and support your reasons, but that plan may change as you draft and revise your actual essay.

For the past three weeks, you have been formulating your position on your topic, articulating that position clearly in your claim, coming up with reasons (appropriate to your audience) to support this position, and collecting evidence through your research that can support these reasons. These three levels of argument--claim, reasons, and evidence you have found so far--are all you will need to complete this brief.

This assignment serves two purposes. First, it is meant to be a representation of your argument for me, so that I can offer response and suggestions about the direction the argument is going in. Secondly, it is meant to help you identify the "gaps" in your argument: places where you need more sound reasons, additional evidence, or better evidence (in other words, more research).

Strategies: In order to construct your own brief, simply look at the two examples provided on this assignment sheet, and arrange your own argument in a similar fashion. Be sure to label your information in a way similar to these two examples, so that I will be able to distinguish between reasons and evidence in your argument.

Format: Your brief should be typed, clearly labelled (see above), and easily readable. There is no official page limit for this assignment, but you should probably have at least two reasons to support your claim, and you will need to show that you have evidence to support most of your argument.


Example 1: Argumentative Brief (Adapted from Crusius and Channell, The Aims of Argument).

Claim: Everyone, gay and straight, will benefit from extending the basic human right of marriage to all couples, regardless of sexual preference.

Reason: It would reinforce family values such as monogamy and the two-parent family.

Evidence: Marriage stabilizes relationships. (Sources: Rauch 23; Dean 114)

Evidence: Children of gays and lesbians should not be denied having two parents. (Sources: Dean 114; Sullivan; Salholz)

Evidence: If gays can have and adopt children, they should be able to marry (Source: Salholz)

Reason: It would provide a means of keeping people from burdening society.

Evidence: Spouses take care of each other. (Source: Rauch)

Reason: Denying gays and lesbians the rights to marry is discriminatory.

Evidence: Marriage includes rights to legal benefits. (Source: Dean 112)

Evidence: Domestic partnerships fail to provide these rights. (Sources: Dean 112; Salholz)

Evidence: Barring these marriages violates many democratic principles. (Sources: "Declaration"; Dean 113; Salholz)

Reason: The love homosexuals have for each other is not different from love between heterosexuals.

Evidence: Many gays and lesbians are in monogamous relationships. (Source: Ayers 5)

Evidence: They have the same need to make a public, legal commitment. (Source: Sullivan)

Example 2: Argumentative Brief (Student sample, CO250)

Claim: Employment-based immigration is beneficial to our country at current levels and should not be reduced or restricted.

Reason: These immigrants are responsible for many of our current technological advances in the communications and computer industries.

Evidence: Intel Corporation created dynamic and static random access memory; all but two of the engineers that made this innovation possible were immigrants. Source: Gilder 4)

Evidence: Innovations by immigrants have allowed companies to capitalize on new product technologies. (Source: Kerrigan 2)

Reason: Cutbacks would hurt many Silicon Valley companies, which are a vital part of the U.S. high-technology industry.

Evidence: These companies feel that immigrants represent the future of Silicon Valley. (Source: Brown 12)

Evidence: There are very few people qualified for many of these positions; immigrants add to them. (Source: Gilder 1, 2 and 4)

Evidence: With so many companies competing to fill these same spots, there are (many times) no qualified Americans available for some companies. (Sources: AILA 2; Brown 2)

Evidence: Current policy allows companies to hire foreign students graduating from U.S. colleges and universities. (Source: Brown)

Evidence: Many Silicon Valley companies are heavily dependent on immigrants. (Sources: Gilder 3; Brown 1)

Evidence: Cutbacks could jeopardize revenue. (Sources: Gilder 4; Mills 346)

Evidence: It is necessary to have the most highly skilled workers as possible in order to have a technological edge. (Sources: Ling-Ling 3; AILA 2)

Reason: These immigrants are not a burden to the U.S. economy, but instead contribute to it in a positive way.

Evidence: New immigrants must prove that they won't be a burden before they are allowed to enter the U.S. (Source: AILA 3)

Evidence: Immigrants stimulate job growth. (Source: Kerrigan 2)