Develop your argument

Come up with your reasons

At this point you should develop the reasons in support of your position. Evidence is central to showing that your reasons are legitimate. Your argument is strengthened when it is supported by evidence that you have interpreted critically.

Think about arguments that could be made against your position. How could you rebut them? What evidence from the research could you use to support your view? Presenting counterarguments and rebutting them helps to strengthen your position.

A brainstorm or mind-map may help you to come up with your argument. Brainstorming helps link main ideas, group ideas together and eliminate those that may be irrelevant. It can help you to identify the main themes and the points you are going to make. This can be useful when you come to structure your essay.

After brainstorming, you may like to convert your diagram into a list of reasons. If brainstorming does not appeal to you, you may prefer to start with the list.

Write a thesis statement

As you research, you will likely have many ideas and a lot of evidence you think may be relevant to your argument. It is common for arguments to be overwhelmed by the detail at this stage. Sometimes arguments try to cover too much and lose focus, becoming ambiguous and vague.

As difficult as it may be, you need to produce a concise summary of your position and its supporting argument. Sometimes you will hear this referred to as a 'thesis statement'. It states your position and your argument in a few sentences. Every essay needs a clear thesis statement, and it is usually presented in the introduction.

To clarify your thesis statement, think about how you would explain your position and argument to an educated non-expert, like a friend or family member, in only a few sentences.

Check that your thesis statement addresses all of the essay question. If not, go back and revise your thesis statement. Remember to be as specific as you can in your wording. There should be no ambiguity-if there is, then the resulting essay may be unclear and confusing.

Plan your essay >>