Category: Academic Writing

Fallacy: Cherry Picking Data

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” There are many potential pitfalls when working with data and statistics, but one common problem occurs when the data is not representative of the...

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Fallacy: Ad Hominem

It can be tempting, during an argument, to attack people who disagree with you, but people aren’t necessarily wrong simply because they have flaws. Name-calling and insults are not one of Aristotle’s rhetorical appeals for a...

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Write a More ORIGINAL Thesis

One of the largest challenges to moving from middle-school and early high school writing to more advanced work is the challenge to write something original. This doesn’t mean you have to invent some whole new theory of life, the universe, and everything. Rather, it means you have to make your reader think.

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Avoid a VAGUE Thesis

The more specific your writing, the more successful you will be at convincing others and communicating your ideas. Set yourself up for success in academic writing by crafting a specific thesis. Not a vague one. What is a vague...

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Write a More SPECIFIC thesis

You will probably receive, or have received, the following feedback at some point: “Try to narrow your thesis.”
This may seem odd; a thesis isn’t something you can squeeze and shape. Can a thesis be ‘fat’?
The comment is an attempt to explain that you have bitten off more than you can chew.”

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Strategies for Arguing: Logos, Ethos and Pathos

“The Greek philosopher Aristotle identified three fundamental strategies for persuading an audience—English teachers may call these strategies “rhetorical appeals.” Everyone who reads or writes arguments should be able to recognize these:
Logos is the appeal to logic or reason.
Ethos is the appeal based on ethics, which establishes the credibility of the author.
Pathos is the appeal to the emotions of the audience.”

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Include COMPETING Evidence into Your Argument

“Many beginning writers, especially when trying to write argumentatively, will include only evidence that supports their thesis. This is a beginner’s mistake.
Any intelligent reader will think up competing (contradictory) evidence on their own. And even if they don’t, they will have to assume that if you ignore all opposing evidence you have either, a) not done a proper research job or are, b) willfully hiding unflattering facts.”

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CLOSELY Read ‘The Text’ to Squeeze Out All Its Meaning

In any high school or college class where you’re reading texts and writing about them, your writing will be more effective if you know how to perform what teachers call a “close reading.” Similarly, if you’re writing a business report or proposal, you’ll be much more likely to reach your goals if the document reflects a close, careful reading of your primary sources.

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