Tips For Writing Persuasive Essay

Tips on writing a persuasive paper:

(Adapted from Nancy Huddleston Packer and John Timpane, 1986 Writing Worth Reading: A Practical Guide, St. Martin's Press: New York)

A good way to learn about persuasive writing/evidence is to critically evaluate while you read. Starr is making an argument that medicine in America has developed in certain ways, with specific outcomes. Along the way, he makes subarguments and presents evidence to support his ideas. You should evaluate whether you think his arguments are solid or not. As you gain skills in assessing other's writing, you will become a better writer yourself.

Persuasion and Making an Argument

An argument has several components. Right now, most of you have only chosen a subject, but as you commence your research, you will find answers to the questions you are posing. Your job in the term paper is to persuade the reader that your position is better than the alternative. The answer(s) you find are the claim.



For example, in your reading by "The Cost of Prevention, Don't expect a Free Lunch", Sisk claims that the clinical researchers should not promise cost savings for all preventive measures.

Evidence is support for your claim, and the best way to make your argument persuasive is to find evidence and present it in appropriate ways.

As one piece of evidence evidence, Sisk cites studies that find many preventive measures do not save costs.

Within your claim, you may need to present subpoints and subarguments.



One of her subpoints is that promising cost savings for an intervention when it cannot deliver them may backfire. Her subargument is that while these interventions may have health benefits, if the cost savings do not materialize, clinicians might not use the intervention. It would be a stronger argument if she had information (evidence) on whether providers actually stop using preventive measures.

Finally, you will need to connect your evidence to the arguments. Essentially, you should elaborate on how the evidence supports your argument.



The opposition

No argument has only one side to it. In order to write a truly great persuasive paper, you should acknowledge the opposition; there are two ways to talk about the opposition, depending on the evidence available.

Rebuttal

The opposition will have arguments of its own. If you have good evidence that weakens the opposing argument, you should use it to rebut their position.

Concession/Qualification

Sometimes, the opposition will have a point that you cannot refute, and you may have to concede this point. In economics, this acknowledgment might be as simple as conceding and enumerating the costs of your policy (which there will always be). You can still make arguments in favor of your policy by showing that the benefits are greater than the costs.

Tips on Persuasion



  • Be clear in what you are claiming.
  • Tell the reader which claims are based on facts and which on values.
  • Provide good evidence in support of your claim.
  • If a connection between the evidence and the claim is not obvious, tell the reader the connection.
  • Discuss the opposing arguments and either provide a rebuttal or concession, whichever is appropriate given your evidence.

Evidence

There are many different types of evidence that you can use in writing a persuasive or informational paper.

If you have incomplete information in support of your claim, you should tell the reader. The "perfect" data is rarely available, so researchers often make do with the imperfect information that is available.

However, careful researchers will admit that their conclusions rely on imperfection and may turn out to be false when better data becomes available.



Expert Testimony

You will probably run across studies conducted by clinicians, economists, or other types of researchers. The information they provide will be one of three types:

  • facts,
  • informed opinions,
  • and speculation.

Factual information is incontrovertible; anyone could find the same information. See the section on statistics below for some warnings about facts.

Informed opinions and speculation will be the interpretation that the researcher applies to the information. For instance, a researcher might conclude that treatment Y is cost-effective, based on a cost-effectiveness ratio of $50,000 per quality of life year saved. Another researcher might think that an appropriate cut-off for "cost-effectiveness" is $10,000 per QUALY, and would disagree. The conclusion that the treatment is cost-effective is an informed opinion.

Speculation is another form of interpretation. Often, the answers many economists get are based on information from a select sample of individuals, let's say middle-age women. Applying these results to another group of the population, for example, elderly women, would call for "out-of-sample" predictions, and these are really just speculation. Another potential problem is that predictions might be based on a particular statistical technique and using a different method might give one different predictions. I don't expect you to know all of these nuances in statistics, but be aware that the conclusions you read in others' research are not hard-and-fast rules.

The first thing to do is to check the credentials of the expert. Check for possible conflicts of interest (did a pharmaceutical company fund the research?) If you find many different researchers coming to the same opinion, that lends greater weight to the evidence.

Statistics

You already have some basic definitions of statistics. The choice of statistic that you might use is very important, and the main way that statistics can be misused. For instance, if you say that Z people are uninsured in the U.S. and this is the largest number of uninsured in history, this is a statistic. However, if the population has grown, a smaller percentage of people might be uninsured than at any other time, so your previous statistic was misleading.

Examples

Sometimes making an argument can be strengthened by being specific. If I tell you in class that not having insurance is a problem, this is a claim, but does not have any evidence supporting it. I may then go on and describe that people without insurance often delay going to the doctor, go to emergency rooms for routine care instead of to clinics or doctors' offices, or go without care at all. These last points are examples. The examples could further be strengthened by statistics on how often uninsured people delay care, go to the emergency room, or go without care. The information could be strengthened yet further by comparing these statistics to similar statistics on people who have insurance. And so on...

Personal/anecdotal experience

We have talked about the dangers of relying on anecdotal experience, but there are appropriate ways to use this type of evidence. It may focus an argument, provide an example, ore illuminate. It may make the reading more interesting. Just don't rely on this type of information only.

Analogy

Analogies may be a writing tool to make your points clear and interesting, but you may also use analogies as evidence. For instance, if you are studying a relatively new government policy or a new trend in health care markets, you may need to speculate on the benefits/costs of the policy based on results from similar policies that have been instituted in the past or in trends from other markets that are similar. You will need to use reasoning and logic to make the connections. You should also describe the possible differences between past policies and today or non-health markets and healthcare markets, etc... and how these differences might affect your conclusions, but this type of evidence can be very persuasive.



Criteria for Evidence

Last, some tips on what makes up solid evidence:

  • Relevance: speak directly to the point.
  • Representativeness: you cannot make a point for the whole U.S. population based on information about one state, for example. If information is only available for one state, present the evidence, but note the problems.
  • Accuracy: try to find the same information in more than one place, if possible.
  • Detail: provide as much as possible. If you know how many thousands of people smoke, tell us the exact number, don't just say "thousands smoke."
  • Adequacy: Figure out which are the most important points in your arguments and support these in the most detail. Lesser points also need evidence, but don't get bogged down on debating a minor detail of the policy.

Tips for Using Evidence



  • Distinguish facts from informed opinion or speculation.
  • Use statistics carefully.
  • Use examples to clarify meaning, demonstrate why, or to entertain.
  • Use logic and reason to connect the evidence to the points.
  • Use personal experience or anecdotal evidence sparingly.

Back to Economics 237 Page

The main purpose of writing a persuasive essay is, like the name suggests it, to convince the audience of a certain point. This type of academic writing task is also known as argumentative essay — it is expected that you use sufficient arguments to defend your position.

But what is persuasive essay writing exactly? How to nail it by making your reader take your side of the argument? How to write a persuasive essay and how to end it? What are the secrets of making your opponent believe you and winning the argument? Read on to discover some useful tips, hints, and tactics.

Let us start with some steps you should follow when writing an argumentative essay.

How to Write Argumentative Essay: Steps

Step 1: Preparation

  • Choose a topic. It should be contradictory enough, with more than one point of view possible. Moreover, the author is supposed to select the topic that is dear to their heart to enjoy the process of writing later. Ensure that your topic is something specific. For example, the topics “Does Facebook Cause Isolation and How?” or “Are Security Cameras Invading Our Privacy?” are a great choice for those who are searching for something that’s not super broad. Remember, in case your stance on the issue can be easily boiled down to a simple “no/yes”, then, you won’t have too much talk on the topic. So, it’s better to choose a specific statement to disclose.
  • Choose the side you are on.  Now, your task is to choose your perspective and convince the reader of its legitimacy and logical supremacy as compared to other points of view. For instance, if your topic sounds like “Should Citizens Be Provided with the Right to Keep Exotic Pets?” you have to decide whether it’s their right to keep such animals at home or such pets create a serious danger to other individuals (let alone, keeping such pets is harmful to the animals!). Make certain that you can defend your position. In case you find it hard to consider any solid defenses against the opponent’s counter arguments, maybe it’s the right moment to re-think the topic you’ve picked.
  • Pick an argument to appeal to human emotions. Thus, you will give your audience a chance to connect with what you’re saying. The reality is that people argue rationally quite rarely, which means that making them dive emotionally into your viewpoint is the amazing way to change their mind. Without a doubt, you’ll have to provide rational arguments in your argumentative essay, but things will be tough in case you introduce the topic that never arouses any feelings.
  • Picture your audience. Which side of the argument are they on? What do you presume, will they agree or disagree with your perspective, or will they be indifferent or indecisive? You will need this information to understand how strong your evidence should be.
  • Do a thorough research. Find robust evidence that supports your position. It might be facts, logical arguments, or statements from experts. Sometimes, inserting fragments of your personal experience can be helpful.
  • Think about the objections your reader might raise. When elaborating a persuasive essay, you should try to overrule them with stronger evidence. Anticipate their counter-arguments and rebut them in advance.
  • Organize your evidence. You should order it in the most persuasive way, usually by presenting the strongest arguments in the end, in order to rid your reader of any doubts.

These are some general steps; without them, you simply won’t write a persuasive essay. Still, if you want your paper to hit the bulls-eye and change the way your reader thinks, you need a few tactics. Below, we’ll share with you some tips on how to make argumentative essay most convincing.

Step 2: Structure Your Essay

Before you start working on your essay, you should consider drafting its structure first. If you are wondering how to write an argumentative essay outline, then it’s no different from any other essay outline. Just remember that the body paragraphs should correspond with your key arguments. For example, when you have a classic 5-paragraph essay, make sure that paragraphs 2, 3, and 4 dwell on an argument each. What’s more, consider tackling a possible counterargument in the third paragraph, in order to make your rationale more convincing.

You must be aware of not just your side of the argument, but also the one of your opponent. Acknowledgment of the opposing views is called concession. It allows you to win your argument more gracefully by first discovering the common ground with the opponent. Find out what kind of evidence they might use, what data they might operate, or what information they might appeal to. Then refute those with even stronger arguments. You might even mention the actual counter-arguments before confusing them.

Step 3: Write the Introduction

Importantly, you should think about how to write argumentative essay introduction and make it effective. We advise you to start your opening paragraph with a hook, an attention-grabber for your reader. You can insert a quote here, introduce a curious fact or draw some stats, or construct a vivid situation. Your hook is the very first sentence that can help you convince your audience. As long as it draws your reader in, you’ve done your job! For instance, feel free to start your persuasive essay on the necessity of entering college like this: “There are individuals, who have never been to college and are doing better than those with a degree.” This simple statement tells nothing special at all. However, it encourages your readers to keep on reading in order to find out why things are like that.

Do you feel like you can’t come up with a hook at the moment? Proceed to the next writing steps! You can always come back to this part later even after you’ve accomplished your project.

Then, it’s time for a thesis statement. In this sentence—the most important part of your essay — you should:

  • introduce the topic;
  • present your point of view;
  • tell your readers how you are going to do that (e.g., by providing some factual evidence).
  • Don’t forget about a transition to the body part of the essay.

Use the last sentence of every ‘body’ paragraph as a smooth transition to the next paragraph. Make sure to provide a natural transition from the last sentence of one paragraph to the first one of the next. For instance, the end of the paragraph: “Wearing a school uniform would blend all pupils together avoiding any class inequality” and the beginning of the following paragraph: “School uniforms provide students with the environment that is free from bullying.”

Ensure to construct a thesis statement that is both specific and focused. Your audience should know exactly what the author is going to debate and why. “Fracking Should Be Banned” is a pretty weak thesis since it’s not focused enough. A solid thesis statement would be, “While some people say that fracking is a very effective method to extract natural gas, the others insist that it’s quite dangerous and hazardous to the environment.”

Step 4: Write the Body

Every ‘body’ paragraph should be solidly focused on a single evidence. Make sure to include references and facts to support each of your claims. Use the so-called rule of thumb: every time you make a claim that isn’t a typical one for the subject, support it. One of the best ways to cope with it lies in reverse. Make sure your evidence leads you and your readers to your arguments.

Here is a good example of the case:

  • “Liberty and equal opportunities aren’t just essential for people, they are good for the whole global community in general. What’s more, the lack of those is considered “demoralization and perversion” and prevents “any social improvement.” (Mill, 98)

Also, have a look at the poor one:

  • “The prison helps to keep dangerous criminals and drug dealers off the cities, and people are safer because of that.”

However, if you support it with solid evidence, it won’t be pointless.

Just like in your research paper, dissertation or speech writing, challenging your audience is always a good idea! According to the basics of the persuasive essay writing, the author of the paper shouldn’t be confrontational. However, you need to force your audience to re-evaluate their points of view.

A good way to do so:

  • “Every person wants lower crime rates, stronger families, and safer streets. However, we should ask ourselves if we’re ready to leave the comfort zone to get the desired results”

But, try to avoid those may sound poor:

  • “This policy is a total failure and every individual that believes it is delusional and completely stupid.”

At a minimum, generate 3 ‘body’ paragraphs to justify your points and provide your evidence. Check how all the paragraphs flow together. It is important to ensure the persuasive essay points are naturally presented one after another, rather than scattered all over the text.

Step 5: Craft the Conclusion

So, we’ve given you a few tips on how to write persuasive essay introduction and what to remember about in your body paragraphs. Now, let’s get to the final point — how to end the persuasive essay. The main tips for closing your argumentative essay are to rephrase your thesis statement or summarize your main points (in this case, your key arguments). Then, to spice it all up, put your central statement in the broader context. Let your final sentence make the reader wonder, “what’s next?” They will surely want to know where they can go from here or how they can make use of their new point of view. A call for action, a recommendation, or just an open question might provide them with a hint.

Take a day or two off. Let your essay sit and your mind rest. Then, read your persuasive essay with fresh eyes. Ask yourself if your essay is logical and convincing.

Step 6: Polish Up Your Essay

OK, you've completed your persuasive essay, and the time for an effective revision has come. When you revise your essay, you have to ensure its organization is absolutely appropriate to your target audience, the paper context, and the purpose. Remember, the message of your essay will be both more controversial and effective if your project connects with the target audience, serves the specified purpose as well as explains the intended context to your readers. To make sure your writing is of the good quality, overlook this our step by step guide on how to perform a thorough revision of your assignment.

Start by reading your project to yourself paragraph after paragraph. Do that out loud to make certain your persuasive essay says what you have planned to say. Pay due attention to the way you use various types of sentences, how you choose the right words for the text as well as how you tend to express what’s on your mind. Do not hesitate to change what you feel should be changed. Feel free to switch the sentences location or order, add or erase words and ideas, or fix anything else in a paper structure or its context to make it better and more concise. Use the word counter to ensure your essay meets all the college requirements.

Then, approach your college mates and ask them to check your work to give you a fresh viewpoint about your writing. Listen to what they say and consider their tips to write a good persuasive paper.

Consider the following questions as a part of the revision process:

  • Do the introduction, the body, and the concluding part of the essay include a clearly presented main idea with strong facts, explanations or/and details?
  • Do you, as the writer, provide a consistent viewpoint, focus, and organizational outline, including the proper paragraphing?
  • Have you successfully proved a clear understanding of the core purpose?
  • Did you use various types of sentences?
  • Does your content include any language errors – spelling, punctuation or grammar ones?
  • Have you removed every error that wouldn’t let your audience understand the text?

Summing it up, the “how to write argumentative essay effectively” formula is simple: present your point of view on a controversial topic, support your arguments with strong evidence, and always keep your opponents in mind. In this article, we have walked you through the essential steps in writing an argumentative essay and prepared some tips for each part of your piece. Now it’s your turn to use all of these in practice and craft a powerful persuasive text.

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