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How to Analyze an Argument: Essential Steps

October 26, 2022| Category: Writing Tips

As a writer, you may face academic assignments that go further than a summary, response, or description. An argument analysis assignment is a common academic task that aims to demonstrate one’s analytical and critical thinking skills. When working on this assignment, one should discuss and analyze the intentions, strategies, and approaches used by the author developing strong arguments and supporting them with solid evidence. To cope with this assignment successfully, you need to become a kind of detective breaking down the large themes into smaller pieces and analyzing them one by one.

What Is the Argument?

In a nutshell, an argument is a position or claim that is put forward by the author. The argument can be recognized via appropriate evidence, language, text comparisons, etc. A good argument should assume the target audience’s awareness of the subject and consider their assumptions, interests, and background knowledge.

Identify the Bias

Bias is usually recognized via the sentence structure, the evidence used for supporting claims, lack of evidence for opposing claims, language, as well as the repetition of claims.

An example of bias: “Boris Johnson is one of the best UK ministers, so it’s no surprise that the major part of the UK citizens is supporting his candidacy.”

In What Way Does the Author Influence the Audience?

The author may influence his/her target audience by different means. For example, they may use selected vocabulary, sentence structures, language techniques, etc. To influence the audience, the arguments should be convincing, sound, and appealing.

Analyze the Paper Critically: Identify the Major Claims, Evidence, and Assumptions

When you are supposed to analyze the main argument in a particular paper, you need to answer the following questions:

  • What are the overall claims and intentions of the author?
  • Does the author support the claims with appropriate evidence?
  • Are the claims based on assumptions?
Evaluate the Evidence

When it comes to writing an argument analysis paper, you need to discuss whether the author supports his/her claims with appropriate evidence. Evidence includes information from outside sources to support the author’s claims or refute the claims made by other people. Importantly, evidence should come from credible, peer-reviewed, and up-to-date sources.

What Evidence Is Credible?

Credible evidence usually comes from sources that are valid and factual. To find out if the author’s evidence is credible, you need to consider the following information:

  • Author (Who is the author of the source? Is the author proficient enough to work on the topic? What is his/her level of expertise?);
  • Date of publication (Is the information relevant? Is it acceptable to use outdated information when analyzing a particular subject?);
  • Source (Is the source of publication valid? Is it respected within the industry? Is the source peer-reviewed? Is it relevant to the topic?).
Analyze the Emotional Appeals

When working on a rhetorical analysis paper, you will also need to analyze how the author appeals to readers’ emotions. You may do it by answering the following questions:

  • In what way can the tone of the argument be described? Does the author change the tone of the argument throughout the paper?
  • How does the author’s argument help understand what is important, relevant, or urgent?
  • Does the author use words with emotional connotations to strengthen the argument?
  • In what way does the argument appeal to the readers’ interest?
  • Does the author use powerful examples to appeal to readers’ emotions?
  • Does the argument appeal to the readers’ identity or values?
  • Will different groups of readers address the argument in different ways?
Analyze Appeals to Trust and Connection

To ensure your essay contains effective analysis, you also need to discuss the author’s appeal to connection and trust:

  • Is the author qualified to make the argument? Is his/her expertise enough to make a certain claim?
  • Does the argument make an impression that it is reasonable?
  • What are the author’s credentials or professional training? Is the author authorized to make arguments about a particular subject?
  • Is the author’s personal experience mentioned when he/she makes the argument?
  • Does the argument appeal to any human values to establish trust between the author and the audience?
  • In what way does the argument help develop the relationship between the author and the reader?
  • Does the author’s argument undermine trust in the opposing group?
  • What point of view does the author use more frequently?

By answering the questions provided in the list, you will be able to analyze the author’s ability to appeal to the readers’ emotions.

Structure Your Paper Properly

When working on an argument analysis essay, you will also need to evaluate the quality of the logical reasoning. What is more, you will need to describe how the author seeks to affect readers’ emotions and gain their trust. Importantly, by understanding how well the author appeals to trust and emotions of the audience, you will learn how to develop your own arguments.

As any other academic paper, your paper should include three major parts. The introductory paragraph should provide brief information about the author and the argument suggested. In a couple of sentences, you need to summarize the argument helping your audience understand what is your paper about. When working on this part, you need to assume that the reader is not familiar with the argument the author suggested. Thus, you need to provide your audience with the most essential information about the argument under discussion. After the brief introduction of the argument, you need to state your thesis. It should help the audience understand what makes the author’s argument unique, strong, or convincing to name just a few.

The next part of your paper, which is called the main body, should be devoted to the in-depth analysis of the argument. This part should be divided into several paragraphs, as there are many points to discuss. In this part, you need to analyze the author’s intentions and strategies that he/she used to reach his/her goals. To make your paper look engaging, you need to analyze both the strengths and weaknesses of the argument. Pay attention that all the claims you make when working on your paper should be related to the thesis statement put in your introduction.

Each paragraph in the main body should focus on one aspect of reasoning. To make your text look smooth and coherent, you need to use appropriate transition words. When making any claims about the argument made by the author, you need to support your words with evidence from the text. This way, you will convince your readers that you know the subject well.

The final part of your paper, conclusion, should not provide new information about the appeals and strategies used by the author. Instead, it should summarize the points that were analyzed previously in your essay. Remember that your conclusion is your opportunity to make a good impression on your reader. Thus, given the combination of the strengths and weaknesses of the investigated argument, you need to let your reader know what makes it unique.

We do hope that our guide will help you become a proficient academic writer. By follow our suggestions, you will be able to create a brilliant argument analysis essay.

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