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Strategies for Developing an Argument and Working Thesis

The Portland State University Online Writing Center provides a comprehensive guided tour to writing papers. Below are steps of the writing process:

  • Step 1: Understanding an Assignment
  • Step 2: Finding a Topic
  • Step 3: Developing a Working Thesis
  • Step 4: Researching
  • Step 5: Creating an Organizational Plan
  • Step 6: Writing a First Draft
  • Step 7: Expanding and Improving Ideas
  • Step 8: Improving and Refining Organization
  • Step 9: Checking Your Use of Research
  • Step 10: Checking Final Details

Explore steps 1 through 10 when you go to http://writingcenter.pdx.edu/resources/guide/index.php

The Online Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provides thorough, easy-to-understand directions in helping writers develop an argument and thesis statement.  http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/

Colorado State University’s online writing resources provide an example of a student’s argumentative essay that can be used as a demonstration of argumentative writing which in turn provides a greater understanding of thesis paper writing. http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/reading/toulmin/pop2f.cfm.

The Harvard College Writing Center provides the following strategies on writing the essay:

Pre-writing Strategies

Prewriting tasks are an immediate and effective way to relax, engage, and re-inform the writer about what the writer already knows in order to pursue the writing assignment. Pre-writing strategies serve the following purposes:

  • Function as ice-breakers and help the writer overcome writer’s block.
  • Immediately engage the writer and further motivate the writer to pursue the assignment.
  • Enable the writer to explore and discover perspectives or convictions that may be used in pursuing the assignment.

The University of Kansas Online Writing Center describes the following prewriting strategies and activities:

  • Brainstorming
  • Clustering
  • Freewriting
  • Looping
  • Questioning techniques

Go to http://www.writing.ku.edu/prewriting-strategies

After prewriting, the writer can develop an organizational plan and tentative outline.

Troy University’s Writing Center offers an informative outline model on how to outline:

http://trojan.troy.edu/writingcenter/assets/documents/handouts/OutliningTheSpeechOrEssay.pdf

Troy University’s Writing Center offers directions on outlining of a thesis, with topic sentences as well as primary and secondary support . Go to http://trojan.troy.edu/writingcenter/assets/documents/handouts/EssayOutlineForm.pdf

Troy University’s Writing Center also offers directions on outlining a body paragraph with a topic sentence as well as primary and secondary support . Go to   http://trojan.troy.edu/writingcenter/assets/documents/handouts/BodyParagraphOutline.pdf

Drafting Strategies

Colorado State University has an online writing guide, “Planning, Drafting, and Organizing,” which can be used to assist a writer in starting a draft. The guide suggests the following strategies that writers can use to develop a draft:

  • Defining terms and concepts
  • Analyzing statements, ideas, and concepts
  • Amplifying, clarifying, and explaining ideas
  • Citing authority
  • Citing common assumptions
  • Qualifying assertions
  • Providing contexts or associations for ideas and examples
  • Using analogy
  • Appealing to emotion

Go to http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/processes/develop/.

Drafting Tasks

Strategies for Summarizing, Paraphrasing and Directly Quoting

A well-written argument incorporates effective use of summary, paraphrase and direct quotations. Purdue OWL explains the distinctions between these three ways to present evidence.

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/563/1/

Strategies for Revision of a Draft

Revision and the intricacies of re-reading and re-thinking are challenging skills even for knowledgeable and experienced writers.

An overview of revision strategies can be found at the Harvard College Online Writing Center. Go to http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~wricntr/documents/Revising.html.

Troy University’s Online Writing Center provides another overview of revision strategies. Go to http://trojan.troy.edu/writingcenter/assets/documents/handouts/ProofreadAndRevise.pdf

These overviews can be simplified into manageable initial strategies for revision. For example, the student can revise by reading the draft and completing the following directions:

  • Re-state topic sentences in alignment with supporting details within the paragraphs
  • Re-state the thesis in alignment with topic sentences
  • Examine the relevance of supporting examples
  • Emphasize and explain how direct or indirect quotes support the main ideas of the body paragraphs
  • Add, delete, or clarify ideas and sentences in the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion
  • Substitute weak words with more precise words. The Online Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provides a guide on word-choice. Go to http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/word-choice/
  • Eliminate wordiness. Troy University’s Online Writing Center provides a guide on ensuring conciseness. Go to http://trojan.troy.edu/writingcenter/assets/documents/handouts/Conciseness.pdf

The Online Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provides a guide on eliminating wordiness.  Go to http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/writing-concisely/

The Online Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provides an audio-visual on eliminating wordiness. Go to https://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/conciseness-demo/

The Portland State University Online Writing Center provides comprehensive revision strategies. The writer can click on the following steps of the writing process and learn more about revision strategies:

  • Step 7: Expanding and Improving Ideas
  • Step 8: Improving and Refining Organization
  • Step 9: Checking Your Use of Research
  • Step 10: Checking Final Details

Click on steps 7 through 10 when you go to http://writingcenter.pdx.edu/resources/guide/index.php.

To develop probing questioning techniques to assist an experienced writer with higher-level revision, the writer can consult Toledo’s journal article on developing probing questioning techniques. To find Toledo’s article, “‘Does Your Dog Bite?’ Creating Good Questions for Online Discussions,” go to http://www.isetl.org/ijtlhe/pdf/IJTLHE85.pdf.

Strategies for Proofreading and Editing

The Center for Reading and Writing at SUNY Adirondack offers two online Proofreading Handbooks that provide proofreading tips and editing exercises to assist writers with low-level sentence problems, such as fragments, run-ons, shifts in tense, shifts in point-of-view, plurals and possessives, subject/verb agreement, pronoun usage, punctuation, and capitalization.

http://lgdata.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/docs/544/1000381/Proofreading_Handbook_-_text_of_pdf_version.pdf

OR,

https://acc.sln.suny.edu/section/content/default.asp?WCI=pgDisplay&WCU=CRSCNT&ENTRY_ID=3F2C09D03DF24F16A04EAA2B5B950C13

A comprehensive online overview of higher-level proofreading and editing strategies can be found at the Harvard College Writing Center website. Click on “Editing the Essay, Part 1” http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~wricntr/documents/edit1.html OR “Editing the Essay, Part 2” http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~wricntr/documents/edit2.html

 

 

Documentation, Style Manuals, and Writer's Resources

Information about APA, MLA, and Turabian/Chicago styles can be found using the links below. Hard copies of these manuals are available for use in the Center for Reading and Writing, Potter Library, as well as for purchase in the Ramapo College Bookstore.

The APA Documentation Guidelines can be found at Basics of APA Style

The MLA Documentation Guidelines can be found at http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/resdoc5e/RES5e_ch08_s1-0001.html

The Turabian or Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide on the Chicago Manual of Style Online can be accessed at http://www.press.uchicago.edu/books/turabian/turabian_citationguide.html

Purdue’s Online Writing Lab provides links to valuable writing references. Under “Internet References,” click on any resource, such as “Dictionaries and Manuals,” when you go to owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/738/01/

Guides to Writing in the Disciplines

Troy University’s Writing Center offers an online practical guide to answering essay questions:

http://trojan.troy.edu/writingcenter/assets/documents/handouts/AnsweringEssayQuestions.pdf

The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provides an online comprehensive guide to answering essay exams. Go to http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/essay-exams/

DePaul University’s Online Center for Writing-based Learning provides an overview of research-based writing, such as directions for writing an annotated bibliography. Click on “Annotated Bibliography” or other types of research-based writing when you go to http://condor.depaul.edu/writing/writers/types.html,

The Online Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provides a guide to writing abstracts. Go to http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/abstracts/

The University of Kansas Online Writing Center has links to resources in evaluating websites. Go to

http://www.writing.ku.edu/evaluating-web-sites

Purdue’s Online Writing Lab provides subject specific resources for writing in the disciplines:

  • Technical Writing
  • Literature
  • Social Sciences
  • Engineering
  • Creative Writing
  • Medical Writing
  • Journalism
  • Nursing

Explore links to writing in various disciplines when you go to http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/4/

The Online Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provides guides and resources for writing in the disciplines.

  • Anthropology
  • Art History
  • Communication Studies
  • Drama
  • History
  • Literature (Fiction)
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Religious Studies
  • Sciences
  • Sociology

Under “Writing for Specific Fields,” click on a discipline when you go to http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/

Academic Integrity: Plagiarism Policy

All members of the Ramapo community are expected to be honest and forthright in their academic endeavors. Since violations of academic integrity erode community confidence and undermine the pursuit of truth and knowledge at the College, academic dishonesty must be avoided.

Plagiarism occurs when a person represents someone else’s words, ideas, phrases, sentences, or data as one’s own work. When a student submits work that includes such material, the source of that information must be acknowledged through complete, accurate, and specific footnote references; additionally, verbatim statements must be acknowledged through quotation marks.

To avoid a charge of plagiarism, a student should be sure to include an acknowledgment of indebtedness: whenever he or she quotes another person’s words directly; whenever he or she uses another person’s ideas, opinions, or theories, even if they have been completely paraphrased in one’s own words; whenever he or she allows another individual to contribute to the work in some significant fashion (for instance, through editing or sharing of ideas); whenever he or she uses facts, statistics, or other illustrative material taken from a source, unless the information is common knowledge.

Examples of standard citation formats can be found on the Library Website: Citation Manuals and Style Guides (Ramapo College Catalog 2011-12).