Argument Support

Strong and thorough evidence supports an argument or “claim,” providing explanation in the form of quotes, statistics, personal reflections, and observations, to name a few. Yet, just including a statistic or quote (for instance) is not enough: to build a sound argument, it is important to:

  1. understand your argument and why the types of sources you are using are effective for your specific argument and field of study
  2. consider the variety of sources you employ
  3. integrate sources into your thoughts effectively

Know Your Argument

What is the difference between a Claim, Warrant, and Support?

  • Claim: The main idea, thesis, belief, or opinion.
  • Warrant (“the bridge”): The belief, value, assumption, and/or experience the writer hopes the audience shares or has in common with the writer. If the audience does not share a writer’s warrant—assumptions about the subject or the support—the argument will most likely fail.
  • Support: The statements that back up a claim. Support takes many forms: data, facts, personal experience, expert opinion, textual evidence, emotional appeals, etc. The more reliable and comprehensive the support, the more persuasive the argument.

Tips for Effectively Supporting Your Argument

  1. Analyze your prompt (e.g. a professor’s instructions on an assignment, a journal’s publishing expectations, etc.).
  2. Learn more about what is valued in your field in terms of acceptable evidence.
  3. Have a clear audience in mind and know what they expect--what will prove most effective in their eyes?
  4. Recognize and potentially acknowledge counter arguments.
  5. Understand the quality of a particular source (for example, don't include unreputable or outdated websites).
  6. Include multiple sources to back your argument.

General Rules for Incorporating Quotes or External Information into Your Own Thoughts

  • In sentences leading up to the quote, set up the quote with necessary background information.
    • Where is it drawn from?
    • How does it relate to what you are saying?
    • How is it similar (or not) to your argument/to previous research?
  • Only include “need to know” information (for example, author names and relevant context).
  • Try to put quotes “in conversation” with one another--make connections explicit in your topic sentences between paragraphs.
  • Think of quote integration as a layering process: Provide the background, provide the quote, state how or why the quote relates to or supports your argument.
  • Avoid including too many quotes or external source information within a single paragraph.