The order in which the components should appear in your argument essays, papers, and posters may depend on which discipline your course is in. So always adhere to the advice provided by your professor and what you learn in class.

One common arrangement for argument essays and term papers is to begin the essay with an introduction that explains why the situation is important—why the reader should care about it. Your research question will probably not appear in the introduction, but your answer to it (your thesis, or claim) usually appears as the last sentence or two of the introduction.

The body of your essay or paper follows and consists of:

  • Your reasons why the thesis is correct or at least reasonable.
  • The evidence that supports each reason, often occurring right after the reason the evidence supports.
  • An acknowledgment that some people could have objections, reservations, counterarguments, or alternative solutions to your argument and a statement of each. Posters often don’t have room for this component.
  • A response to each acknowledgment that explains why that criticism is incorrect or not very important. Sometimes you might have to concede a point you think is unimportant if you can’t really refute it.

After the body, the paper or essay ends with a conclusion, which states your thesis in a slightly different way than occurred in the introduction. The conclusion also may mention why research in this situation is important. Again, posters often don’t have much room for this component.


A Blueprint for Argument

It’s no accident that people are said to make arguments—they’re all constructed, and these components are the building blocks. The components are important because of what they contribute. Each generally, though not always, appears in a certain order because they build on or respond to one another.

For example, diagrammed in the image below, the thesis or claim is derived from the initial question. The reasons are bolstered by evidence to support the claim. Objections are raised, acknowledged, and subsequently responded to.

Components of an argument

The components of the argument build on each other.

Exercises: Order of argument components

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Critical Thinking in Academic Research by Cindy Gruwell and Robin Ewing is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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