Argument Papers

Argument papers are short (800 word minimum) papers responding critically to (at least one of) the day’s readings.

The introduction should explain what you understand the author to say. 

“They say __________ because __________.” 

The thesis—usually at the end of the introduction—should respond critically. 

“I say __________ because __________.”

The body should provide the argument for your thesis. Part of this argument includes consideration of one or more possible objections: 

“One might object that __________ because __________. I reply that __________ because __________.”

The conclusion should briefly sum up the main points made in the paper and reiterate how they support the thesis.


  • Include all the elements listed above (introduction, thesis, body, objections, and conclusion), as described. It is not necessary to copy the wording above verbatim; however, full credit will not be awarded to papers missing any of these elements.
  • Make sure you have understood what the author is saying, and make sure you characterize him/her fairly in the introduction
  • Make sure the bulk of your argument consists in your own ideas and arguments
  • Make sure your arguments all clearly support your thesis. 


  • Use the author’s ideas or arguments to support your main point—you should be using your own.
  • Use the author’s words without putting them in quotation marks and indicating their source.
  • Be wordy. Get straight to the point. 
  • Do extra outside research. It isn’t necessary for this assignment! If you do use outside research, make sure to give appropriate attribution to the source.