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5. Structure of the argument

BA Art History



After the introduction of an academic text, the argument follows: the main body of the article/chapter(s). This is the core of the research, in which depth should be added to the research results as the arguments are put forward.



It is important that the reader is presented with the research, the arguments and the accompanying results in a logical way, because:

  • the argument will be easier to follow

  • the conclusion will be more plausible; something you hope to accomplish as an author

  • large pieces of texts will be more clear

Persuasiveness and clarity go hand in hand.



The author can provide this clarity by creating a consistent structure in his or her text.

  • First, create an argumentation scheme

  • Use the ‘Say Say Say’ approach:

  • Say what you are going to say, say it, then say what you have said. Introduce the topic, treat the topic divided into different aspects, then briefly summarise the main points of the text and end the text with a concluding statement.

  • This structure of ‘question - argument - conclusion’ is not only relevant for the paper as a whole, but also for the subchapters and paragraphs. Therefore, in every part of the text, try to ask a question (or write in a questioning way), provide arguments or sources to answer this question, and then formulate a conclusion that answers this question.

  • -    Treat every major subquestion in a separate chapter (divided into

  •  paragraphs that contain parts of that subquestion).

  • Divide the chapter text into different paragraphs:

  • Do not write the text as a whole without interruption, but rather divide it into paragraphs. Highlight paragraphs by creating an indent at the beginning using a tab.

  • Make sure that each paragraph forms a coherent whole:

  • Test this by summarising the content of each paragraph in a few keywords in the margin. By realising what each paragraph is about, you can judge whether you have combined the information in a logical way and you will become aware of what you are doing exactly in each part of the text, for instance: laying down conditions, answering questions, defining aim and necessity of your research, creating a timeline, discussing theorists in relation to the work of art, identifying similarities or differences, carrying out a visual analysis, etc.

  • Explicitly mention the structure in the introductory paragraphs of the article/chapter:

  • For example:

  • "First, ... will be treated, after which, in the second paragraph ... will be discussed".

  • Throughout the text, refer back to the structure and signal your progress:

  • For example:

  • "This brings me to the second point...", "After discussing ..., now ... will be examined". Do not exaggerate, however, because too much signalling can irritate the reader.

  • Use signal words (see hand out ‘Writing Style’)

  • These allow sentences to logically follow from one another and helps separate the supporting and opposing arguments.

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