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Argumentative Essay Introduction

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Unit 3 – Argumentative Essay
Part 1 - Introduction
What is an introduction?
Introductions are very important. The introduction gives the reader his/her first
impression of the text. The first impression that you are aiming to give the reader
is of a high-quality argumentative text written in a professional, academic style. An
effective introduction explains the purpose and scope of the paper to the reader.
Introductions are usually no more than about 10 per cent of the total length of the
assignment. Therefore in a 1,000 word long essay the introduction would be about
100 words.
1. Look at these four argumentative essay introductions.
Analyse these paragraphs for their overall structure and sentence structure.
Analyse the language use in these introductions.
Are these paragraphs similarly structured?
Are these good introductory paragraphs for an argumentative essay?
How can you make the paragraphs better?
Introduction 1
The issue of whether we should allow marine parks to stay open has been widely debated in our
community recently. It is an important issue because it concerns fundamental moral and economic
questions about the way we use our native wildlife. A variety of different arguments have been put
forward about this issue. This essay will consider arguments for having marine parks and point to
some of the problems with these views. It will then put forward reasons for the introduction of laws
which prohibit these unnecessary and cruel institutions.
Introduction 2
The online medium offers many opportunities for people to explore their identity. In particular, textbased communication enables users to present themselves in ways that may not be possible in
face-to-face contexts because of the lack of physical appearance cues. Two such online
communities, which operate textually, and in realtime, are Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and Multi-User
Dungeons (MUDs). IRC offers users access to hundreds of chatrooms on a vast range of topics.
Users are identified by their choice of nickname, dissimilar to real life names, in which “users can
appear to be, quite literally, whoever they wish” (Reid, 1993, p. 63). MUDs are virtual reality,
roleplaying environments where users create their own character by selecting a name, a gender
including neuter and plural, and a description of their physical appearance (Curtis, 1997). Textbased communication forums offer users unprecedented freedoms for identity alteration through
the anonymity of the online medium, which enables users to break free from social norms.
However, online users’ capacity to alter their identity is also constrained by gender norms, including
gender socialisation differences in risktaking online.
Academic Writing and Research Skills
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Unit 4 - Argumentative Essay (Introduction)
Introduction 3
Every teenager is thrilled at the prospect of sitting behind the driver’s wheel of a car. At some
stage, though, the excitement turns into complacency and bad habits are often formed. Many of
these bad habits have little effect on safety. A few, however, such as drunk driving and speeding,
are dangerous and a great deal of time and effort is put into getting people out of these habits.
Many campaigns, though, are not successful because they are easily ignored. This has not been
the case with the campaign against speeding drivers. Although the number of speeding drivers will
never be reduced to zero, the advertisements targeting them are having a positive effect because
people are taking notice of the gruesome consequences of excessive speed.
Introduction 4
Education means considerably more than just teaching a student to read, write, and manipulate
numbers. Computers, the Internet, and advanced electronic devices are becoming essential in
everyday life and have changed the way information is gathered. How this new technology is
utilised in the curriculum and managed by teachers will have an important role to play in widening
the resource and knowledge base for all students. Technology affects the way teachers teach and
students learn. To make the best use of information technology (IT), schools need a workable plan
to fully integrate it into all aspects of the curriculum so students are taught how, why and when to
use technology to further enhance their learning.
2. What is normally found in an essay introduction? Choose from the list below.
Yes
No
A definition of any unfamiliar terms in the title.
Your opinions on the subject of the essay.
Mention of some sources you have read on the topic.
A provocative idea or question to interest the reader.
Your aim or purpose in writing.
The method you adopt to answer the question (or an outline).
Some brief background to the topic
Any limitations you set yourself.
An argumentative paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies this claim with specific
evidence. The claim could be an opinion, a policy proposal, an evaluation, a cause-andeffect statement, or an interpretation. The goal of the argumentative paper is to
convince the audience that the claim is true based on the evidence provided.
High school graduates should be required to take a year off to
pursue community service projects before entering college
Some Features
• You are required to provide information and supporting evidence
• The thesis statement is your stand or position regarding the topic
• You can use statistics, others studies, popular beliefs and stories

• You should avoid ‘logical fallacies’ or poor arguments

Academic Writing and Research Skills
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Unit 4 - Argumentative Essay (Introduction)
Your Argumentative Essay Topic and the Thesis
An argumentative or persuasive piece of writing must begin with a debatable thesis or
claim. In other words, the thesis must be something that people could reasonably have
differing opinions on. If your thesis is something that is generally agreed upon or
accepted as fact then there is no reason to try to persuade people.
The topic for your argumentative essay must be debatable. Debatable statements are
statements with which other people might or might not agree. These are sometimes
called "arguments", "assertions", "propositions" or "premises".
Example of a non-debatable thesis statement:
Pollution is bad for the environment
This thesis statement is not debatable. First, the word pollution means that something is
bad or negative in some way. Further, all studies agree that pollution is a problem; they
simply disagree on the impact it will have or the scope of the problem. No one could
reasonably argue that pollution is good.
Example of a debatable thesis statement:
At least 25 percent of the federal budget should be spent on limiting pollution
This is an example of a debatable thesis because reasonable people could disagree with it.
Some people might think that this is how we should spend the nation's money. Others
might feel that we should be spending more money on education. Still others could argue
that corporations, not the government, should be paying to limit pollution.
Another example of a debatable thesis statement:
America's anti-pollution efforts should focus on privately owned cars
In this example there is also room for disagreement between rational individuals. Some
citizens might think focusing on recycling programs rather than private automobiles is the
most effective strategy.
The Thesis Needs to be Narrow
Although the scope of your paper might seem overwhelming at the start, generally the
narrower the thesis the more effective your argument will be. Your thesis or claim must be
supported by evidence. The broader your claim is, the more evidence you will need to
convince readers that your position is right.
Example of a thesis that is too broad:
Drug use is detrimental to society
There are several reasons this statement is too broad to argue. First, what is included in
the category "drugs"? Is the author talking about illegal drug use, recreational drug use
(which might include alcohol and cigarettes), or all uses of medication in general? Second,
Academic Writing and Research Skills
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Unit 4 - Argumentative Essay (Introduction)
in what ways are drugs detrimental? Is drug use causing deaths (and is the author
equating deaths from overdoses and deaths from drug related violence)? Is drug use
changing the moral climate or causing the economy to decline? Finally, what does the
author mean by "society"? Is the author referring only to America or to the global
population? Does the author make any distinction between the effects on children and
adults? There are just too many questions that the claim leaves open. The author could
not cover all of the topics listed above, yet the generality of the claim leaves all of these
possibilities open to debate.
Example of a narrow or focused thesis:
Illegal drug use is detrimental because it encourages gang violence.
In this example the topic of drugs has been narrowed down to illegal drugs and the
detriment has been narrowed down to gang violence. This is a much more manageable
topic.
We could narrow each debatable thesis from the previous examples in the following way:
Narrowed debatable thesis 1:
At least 25 percent of the federal budget should be spent on helping
upgrade business to clean technologies, researching renewable energy
sources, and planting more trees in order to control or eliminate pollution.
This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just the amount of
money used but also how the money could actually help to control pollution.
Narrowed debatable thesis 2:
America's anti-pollution efforts should focus on privately owned cars
because it would allow most citizens to contribute to national efforts and
care about the outcome.
This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just what the focus of a
national anti-pollution campaign should be but also why this is the appropriate focus.
Qualifiers such as "typically," "generally," "usually," or "on average" also help to limit
the scope of your claim by allowing for the almost inevitable exception to the rule.
2. Write a thesis statement for the following ideas after changing them to
argumentative essay topics.
a) Should classes be separated into boys and girls?
Topic
Thesis
b)
Should college be free?
c)
Should people under the age of seventeen have an 11:00 PM curfew?
Topic
Thesis
Topic
Thesis
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Unit 4 - Argumentative Essay (Introduction)
d)
Should students be allowed to bring MP3 players and electronic devices to school?
e)
Should people be punished for illegally downloading movies and music?
Topic
Thesis
Topic
Thesis
3. Now write a thesis statement for your argumentative essay topic.
Topic
Thesis
4. Now put the following sentences into the correct order. They make up the
introduction to an argumentative essay about the issue of whether Australia should
become a republic.
a. As a result, the issue is a very controversial one and has attracted a lot of debate.
b. It will then put forward a number of reasons why Australia should change to a republican
form of government.
c. The question of whether we maintain the monarchy is not merely a legal detail but is
intrinsically linked to the way we perceive ourselves as a distinct nation of people with its
own identity and culture.
d. Since the time of federation, Australia has been a constitutional monarchy with the Queen of
the United Kingdom as its head of state.
e. This essay will consider some of the arguments for maintaining the monarch as head of state
and will outline some of the problems with this position.
f. However, today many Australians are questioning whether this form of government is still
relevant or appropriate and are suggesting that we move towards the establishment of a
republic.
Using generalisations (Hooks)
5. Generalisations or hooks are used to give a simple picture of a topic. Compare:
The majority of smokers in Britain are women.
and
Of all smokers in the UK, 56.2 per cent are women and 43.8 per cent are men.
Although the second sentence is more accurate, the first is easier to understand and
remember. The writer must decide when accuracy is necessary, and when a generalisation
will be acceptable.
You must avoid using generalisations that cannot be supported by evidence or research,
e.g. Students tend to be lazy.
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Unit 4 - Argumentative Essay (Introduction)
Generalisations can be made in two ways:
(a) Most commonly using the plural:
Computers have transformed the way we live.
(b) Using the singular + definite article (more formal):
The computer has transformed the way we live.
Avoid absolute phrases in generalisations such as:
Young children learn second languages easily.
Such statements are dangerous because there may well be exceptions.
Instead, it is better to use cautious (called hedging) phrases such as:
Young children tend to learn second languages easily.
6. Decide which of the following are valid generalisations:
a. Cats are more intelligent than dogs.
b. Earthquakes are difficult to predict.
c. There is a link between poverty and disease.
d. Women work harder than men.
e. Air travel is faster than train travel.
The first few sentences should be general but not vague, to help the reader focus on the
topic. They often have the following pattern:
Time Fixers/phrase
Topic
Currently,
the control of water resources
Since 2008
electric vehicles
Development
has emerged as potential cause of
international friction.
have become a serious commercial
proposition.
7. Read the following text and underline the generalisations.
What we look for in choosing a mate seems to vary from place to place. A recent study
(Jones and DeBruine, 2010) explores the idea that female preferences in a mate might
vary according to the society in which she lives. In their research nearly 5,000 women in
30 countries were shown the same pictures of male faces and asked to state which they
found more attractive. In countries where disease is common women chose men with
more masculine features, while in countries such as America with more advanced health
care and lower levels of disease, more effeminate-looking men were preferred. The
researchers conclude that in healthier societies women are more interested in men who
may form long-term relationships and help with child-rearing, while in places where child
mortality rates are high they choose strongly-featured men who seem more likely to
produce healthy children.
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Unit 4 - Argumentative Essay (Introduction)
8. Write generalisations on the following topics.
(a) fresh fruit/ health
Eating fresh fruit is important for health
(b) regular rainfall/ good crop yields
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………...………………………………
(c) honest judges/ respect for the law
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………...………………………………
(d) adequate sleep/ academic success
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………...………………………………
(e) industrial growth/ pollution
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………...………………………………
9. Choose a title from the list below, or select one from your own subject, Write a
generalisation and develop it in the same way as in question number 0.
a.
Does tourism always have a negative effect on the host country?
b.
Should governments use taxation to promote public health?
c.
Is it more important to protect forests or to grow food?
d.
Is it better for the state to spend money on primary or university education?
The Scope of your Introduction
The scope of your writing is a “road map” that explains how you will defend your thesis.
This gives the reader a general sense of how you will organise the different points that
follow throughout the essay. Sometimes the “map” is incorporated right into the thesis
statement, and sometimes it is a separate sentence. Below is an example of a thesis with a
“map.”
Drunk drivers should face stricter penalties for driving under the influence because drunk
driving can result in unnecessary and premature deaths, permanent injury for
survivors, and billions of dollars spent on medical expenses.
The part underlined here is the scope or the “map” that show your reader the main points
of support you will present in the essay. They also serve to set up the paper’s
arrangement because they tell the order in which you will present these topics.
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Unit 4 - Argumentative Essay (Introduction)
4. Identify the topics of the body paragraphs for introductions in question number 1
above.
Introduction 1
Paragraph 2
Paragraph 3
Paragraph 4
(Paragraph 5)
Introduction 2
Paragraph 2
Paragraph 3
Paragraph 4
(Paragraph 5)
Introduction 3
Paragraph 2
Paragraph 3
Paragraph 4
(Paragraph 5)
Introduction 4
Paragraph 2
Paragraph 3
Paragraph 4
(Paragraph 5)
5. Write an introduction for the argumentative essay topic:
Universities should (not) be run like businesses
Academic Writing and Research Skills
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Unit 4 - Argumentative Essay (Introduction)
6. Now write an introduction for your argumentative essay topic
Formatting a writing
Margins
A writing must have a margin on the right and a margin on the left. This means that the
writing begins 1 inch or 1 ¼ inches from the edges of the paper.
Spacing
All academic writings should have a 1.5 or double spacing.
Indenting
The first sentence of paragraphs need not be indented anymore with the introduction of
computers. Word processors have a function to allow you to add a space at the end of
each paragraph before you start the other. If you like indenting, you may do so.
Fonts
The fonts used in academic writings are formal and straight. The commonest fonts used
Times New Roman, Cambria, Calibri and Arial. The size of the running text is 12 points.
Running fonts are avoided in academic writing. The main headings and subheadings are
usually in bold for ease of reference. The paragraphs are justified.
Academic Writing and Research Skills
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Unit 4 - Argumentative Essay (Introduction)
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