Planning an Argument

Context

As you can see, there's a lot that goes into writing an argument, all of which fit somewhere under the general heading--CONTEXT--meaning the elemental concerns that define an argument's appropriateness and play a part in its construction, contribute to the shaping of its message and affect its meaning.

The importance of examining these elements stems from the fact that individual academic disciplines, having different methods for interpreting and examining the world around them, have different expectations and conventions regarding how research is to be conducted, the findings reported, the arguments written and the sources documented.

What constitutes a viable research question or acceptable evidence in one discipline may be inappropriate in another. In an English class, a question about the human condition might be answered by interpreting the works of Shakespeare. In a psychology class, a case study or a controlled experiment would be more likely.

The tone and style of presentation and its organization are also affected. Consider the following two introductions below for arguments addressing the treatment of patients with Alzheimer's disease.

Lower-division courses are a bit more relaxed when it comes to writing for specific disciplinary audiences but, if you are writing for possible publication, or for an upper-division, capstone or graduate course (including theses and dissertations) your audience will expect you to be informed about their conventions.

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Introduction