I want help developing my own point of view or argument.

Many writing tasks at university require persuasive writing, in which you present your own point of view. Common types of point of view in academic writing include an argument, a recommendation, interpretation of findings or evaluation of the work of others. All such positions need to be supported by evidence, such as research findings or reference to published sources.

Here are some strategies to help you reach your own point of view on the facts or ideas:

  • read some other researchers' points of view which have been published on this topic: who do you feel is the most convincing?
  • look for patterns in the data or references: where is the evidence strongest?
  • list several different interpretations: what are the real-life implications of each one? which ones are likely to be most useful or beneficial? which ones have some problems?
  • discuss the facts and ideas with someone else: do you agree with their point of view?

If you are writing an essay or a similar type of text, you will need some skills to develop an argument. This involves breaking your main point of view into parts, for example:

  • list the different reasons for your point of view
  • think about the different types and sources of evidence which you can use to support your point of view
  • consider different ways that your point of view is similar to, and different from, the points of view of other researchers
  • look for other ways to break your point of view into parts: e.g. cost effectiveness, environmental sustainability, precision of measurement, scope of real-world application, theoretical clarity, etc.

To present your point of view in writing at university, you need some skills for writing in an objective academic style. This means that you should:

  • use evaluative language which is moderate, not too strong - e.g. use very beneficial instead of wonderful, or use problematic instead of a failure.
  • use evaluative language which is technical, not emotional - e.g. use innovative, sustainable or comprehensive, instead of excellent or great.
  • use language (such as modality), to make your point of view more cautious - e.g. use more exercise could increase life expectancy, instead of more exercise always increases life expectancy.

Different disciplines have different styles for persuasive writing. For example, in some fields it is fine to write 'my view is that...' , while in some fields this is not acceptable. It is wise to look at the style used by experts to express interpretations, opinions and recommendations: check the Discussion and Conclusion section of published articles, and look for book reviews in scholarly journals in your discipline area.

For more on this topic, see the links on the right...