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Writing Guide with Handbook

10.3 Glance at Genre: Thesis, Reasoning, and Evidence

Writing Guide with Handbook10.3 Glance at Genre: Thesis, Reasoning, and Evidence

Table of contents
  1. Preface
  2. The Things We Carry: Experience, Culture, and Language
    1. 1 Unit Introduction
    2. 1 The Digital World: Building on What You Already Know to Respond Critically
      1. Introduction
      2. 1.1 "Reading" to Understand and Respond
      3. 1.2 Social Media Trailblazer: Selena Gomez
      4. 1.3 Glance at Critical Response: Rhetoric and Critical Thinking
      5. 1.4 Annotated Student Sample: Social Media Post and Responses on Voter Suppression
      6. 1.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About a “Text”
      7. 1.6 Evaluation: Intention vs. Execution
      8. 1.7 Spotlight on … Academia
      9. 1.8 Portfolio: Tracing Writing Development
      10. Further Reading
      11. Works Cited
    3. 2 Language, Identity, and Culture: Exploring, Employing, Embracing
      1. Introduction
      2. 2.1 Seeds of Self
      3. 2.2 Identity Trailblazer: Cathy Park Hong
      4. 2.3 Glance at the Issues: Oppression and Reclamation
      5. 2.4 Annotated Sample Reading from The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois
      6. 2.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically about How Identity Is Constructed Through Writing
      7. 2.6 Evaluation: Antiracism and Inclusivity
      8. 2.7 Spotlight on … Variations of English
      9. 2.8 Portfolio: Decolonizing Self
      10. Further Reading
      11. Works Cited
    4. 3 Literacy Narrative: Building Bridges, Bridging Gaps
      1. Introduction
      2. 3.1 Identity and Expression
      3. 3.2 Literacy Narrative Trailblazer: Tara Westover
      4. 3.3 Glance at Genre: The Literacy Narrative
      5. 3.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
      6. 3.5 Writing Process: Tracing the Beginnings of Literacy
      7. 3.6 Editing Focus: Sentence Structure
      8. 3.7 Evaluation: Self-Evaluating
      9. 3.8 Spotlight on … The Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN)
      10. 3.9 Portfolio: A Literacy Artifact
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
      13. Works Consulted
  3. Bridging the Divide Between Personal Identity and Academia
    1. 2 Unit Introduction
    2. 4 Memoir or Personal Narrative: Learning Lessons from the Personal
      1. Introduction
      2. 4.1 Exploring the Past to Understand the Present
      3. 4.2 Memoir Trailblazer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
      4. 4.3 Glance at Genre: Conflict, Detail, and Revelation
      5. 4.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain
      6. 4.5 Writing Process: Making the Personal Public
      7. 4.6 Editing Focus: More on Characterization and Point of View
      8. 4.7 Evaluation: Structure and Organization
      9. 4.8 Spotlight on … Multilingual Writers
      10. 4.9 Portfolio: Filtered Memories
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    3. 5 Profile: Telling a Rich and Compelling Story
      1. Introduction
      2. 5.1 Profiles as Inspiration
      3. 5.2 Profile Trailblazer: Veronica Chambers
      4. 5.3 Glance at Genre: Subject, Angle, Background, and Description
      5. 5.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Remembering John Lewis” by Carla D. Hayden
      6. 5.5 Writing Process: Focusing on the Angle of Your Subject
      7. 5.6 Editing Focus: Verb Tense Consistency
      8. 5.7 Evaluation: Text as Personal Introduction
      9. 5.8 Spotlight on … Profiling a Cultural Artifact
      10. 5.9 Portfolio: Subject as a Reflection of Self
      11. Works Cited
    4. 6 Proposal: Writing About Problems and Solutions
      1. Introduction
      2. 6.1 Proposing Change: Thinking Critically About Problems and Solutions
      3. 6.2 Proposal Trailblazer: Atul Gawande
      4. 6.3 Glance at Genre: Features of Proposals
      5. 6.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Slowing Climate Change” by Shawn Krukowski
      6. 6.5 Writing Process: Creating a Proposal
      7. 6.6 Editing Focus: Subject-Verb Agreement
      8. 6.7 Evaluation: Conventions, Clarity, and Coherence
      9. 6.8 Spotlight on … Technical Writing as a Career
      10. 6.9 Portfolio: Reflecting on Problems and Solutions
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    5. 7 Evaluation or Review: Would You Recommend It?
      1. Introduction
      2. 7.1 Thumbs Up or Down?
      3. 7.2 Review Trailblazer: Michiko Kakutani
      4. 7.3 Glance at Genre: Criteria, Evidence, Evaluation
      5. 7.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Black Representation in Film" by Caelia Marshall
      6. 7.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About Entertainment
      7. 7.6 Editing Focus: Quotations
      8. 7.7 Evaluation: Effect on Audience
      9. 7.8 Spotlight on … Language and Culture
      10. 7.9 Portfolio: What the Arts Say About You
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    6. 8 Analytical Report: Writing from Facts
      1. Introduction
      2. 8.1 Information and Critical Thinking
      3. 8.2 Analytical Report Trailblazer: Barbara Ehrenreich
      4. 8.3 Glance at Genre: Informal and Formal Analytical Reports
      5. 8.4 Annotated Student Sample: "U.S. Response to COVID-19" by Trevor Garcia
      6. 8.5 Writing Process: Creating an Analytical Report
      7. 8.6 Editing Focus: Commas with Nonessential and Essential Information
      8. 8.7 Evaluation: Reviewing the Final Draft
      9. 8.8 Spotlight on … Discipline-Specific and Technical Language
      10. 8.9 Portfolio: Evidence and Objectivity
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    7. 9 Rhetorical Analysis: Interpreting the Art of Rhetoric
      1. Introduction
      2. 9.1 Breaking the Whole into Its Parts
      3. 9.2 Rhetorical Analysis Trailblazer: Jamil Smith
      4. 9.3 Glance at Genre: Rhetorical Strategies
      5. 9.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Rhetorical Analysis: Evicted by Matthew Desmond” by Eliana Evans
      6. 9.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically about Rhetoric
      7. 9.6 Editing Focus: Mixed Sentence Constructions
      8. 9.7 Evaluation: Rhetorical Analysis
      9. 9.8 Spotlight on … Business and Law
      10. 9.9 Portfolio: How Thinking Critically about Rhetoric Affects Intellectual Growth
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    8. 10 Position Argument: Practicing the Art of Rhetoric
      1. Introduction
      2. 10.1 Making a Case: Defining a Position Argument
      3. 10.2 Position Argument Trailblazer: Charles Blow
      4. 10.3 Glance at Genre: Thesis, Reasoning, and Evidence
      5. 10.4 Annotated Sample Reading: "Remarks at the University of Michigan" by Lyndon B. Johnson
      6. 10.5 Writing Process: Creating a Position Argument
      7. 10.6 Editing Focus: Paragraphs and Transitions
      8. 10.7 Evaluation: Varied Appeals
      9. 10.8 Spotlight on … Citation
      10. 10.9 Portfolio: Growth in the Development of Argument
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    9. 11 Reasoning Strategies: Improving Critical Thinking
      1. Introduction
      2. 11.1 Developing Your Sense of Logic
      3. 11.2 Reasoning Trailblazer: Paul D. N. Hebert
      4. 11.3 Glance at Genre: Reasoning Strategies and Signal Words
      5. 11.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Book VII of The Republic by Plato
      6. 11.5 Writing Process: Reasoning Supported by Evidence
      7. Further Reading
      8. Works Cited
    10. 12 Argumentative Research: Enhancing the Art of Rhetoric with Evidence
      1. Introduction
      2. 12.1 Introducing Research and Research Evidence
      3. 12.2 Argumentative Research Trailblazer: Samin Nosrat
      4. 12.3 Glance at Genre: Introducing Research as Evidence
      5. 12.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Healthy Diets from Sustainable Sources Can Save the Earth" by Lily Tran
      6. 12.5 Writing Process: Integrating Research
      7. 12.6 Editing Focus: Integrating Sources and Quotations
      8. 12.7 Evaluation: Effectiveness of Research Paper
      9. 12.8 Spotlight on … Bias in Language and Research
      10. 12.9 Portfolio: Why Facts Matter in Research Argumentation
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    11. 13 Research Process: Accessing and Recording Information
      1. Introduction
      2. 13.1 The Research Process: Where to Look for Existing Sources
      3. 13.2 The Research Process: How to Create Sources
      4. 13.3 Glance at the Research Process: Key Skills
      5. 13.4 Annotated Student Sample: Research Log
      6. 13.5 Research Process: Making Notes, Synthesizing Information, and Keeping a Research Log
      7. 13.6 Spotlight on … Ethical Research
      8. Further Reading
      9. Works Cited
    12. 14 Annotated Bibliography: Gathering, Evaluating, and Documenting Sources
      1. Introduction
      2. 14.1 Compiling Sources for an Annotated Bibliography
      3. 14.2 Glance at Form: Citation Style, Purpose, and Formatting
      4. 14.3 Annotated Student Sample: “Healthy Diets from Sustainable Sources Can Save the Earth” by Lily Tran
      5. 14.4 Writing Process: Informing and Analyzing
      6. Further Reading
      7. Works Cited
    13. 15 Case Study Profile: What One Person Says About All
      1. Introduction
      2. 15.1 Tracing a Broad Issue in the Individual
      3. 15.2 Case Study Trailblazer: Vilayanur S. Ramachandran
      4. 15.3 Glance at Genre: Observation, Description, and Analysis
      5. 15.4 Annotated Sample Reading: Case Study on Louis Victor "Tan" Leborgne
      6. 15.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About How People and Language Interact
      7. 15.6 Editing Focus: Words Often Confused
      8. 15.7 Evaluation: Presentation and Analysis of Case Study
      9. 15.8 Spotlight on … Applied Linguistics
      10. 15.9 Portfolio: Your Own Uses of Language
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
  4. Navigating Rhetoric in Real Life
    1. 3 Unit Introduction
    2. 16 Print or Textual Analysis: What You Read
      1. Introduction
      2. 16.1 An Author’s Choices: What Text Says and How It Says It
      3. 16.2 Textual Analysis Trailblazer: bell hooks
      4. 16.3 Glance at Genre: Print or Textual Analysis
      5. 16.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Artists at Work" by Gwyn Garrison
      6. 16.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About Text
      7. 16.6 Editing Focus: Literary Works Live in the Present
      8. 16.7 Evaluation: Self-Directed Assessment
      9. 16.8 Spotlight on … Humanities
      10. 16.9 Portfolio: The Academic and the Personal
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    3. 17 Image Analysis: What You See
      1. Introduction
      2. 17.1 “Reading” Images
      3. 17.2 Image Trailblazer: Sara Ludy
      4. 17.3 Glance at Genre: Relationship Between Image and Rhetoric
      5. 17.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Hints of the Homoerotic” by Leo Davis
      6. 17.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically and Writing Persuasively About Images
      7. 17.6 Editing Focus: Descriptive Diction
      8. 17.7 Evaluation: Relationship Between Analysis and Image
      9. 17.8 Spotlight on … Video and Film
      10. 17.9 Portfolio: Interplay Between Text and Image
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    4. 18 Multimodal and Online Writing: Creative Interaction between Text and Image
      1. Introduction
      2. 18.1 Mixing Genres and Modes
      3. 18.2 Multimodal Trailblazer: Torika Bolatagici
      4. 18.3 Glance at Genre: Genre, Audience, Purpose, Organization
      5. 18.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Celebrating a Win-Win” by Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
      6. 18.5 Writing Process: Create a Multimodal Advocacy Project
      7. 18.6 Evaluation: Transitions
      8. 18.7 Spotlight on . . . Technology
      9. 18.8 Portfolio: Multimodalism
      10. Further Reading
      11. Works Cited
    5. 19 Scripting for the Public Forum: Writing to Speak
      1. Introduction
      2. 19.1 Writing, Speaking, and Activism
      3. 19.2 Podcast Trailblazer: Alice Wong
      4. 19.3 Glance at Genre: Language Performance and Visuals
      5. 19.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Are New DOT Regulations Discriminatory?” by Zain A. Kumar
      6. 19.5 Writing Process: Writing to Speak
      7. 19.6 Evaluation: Bridging Writing and Speaking
      8. 19.7 Spotlight on … Delivery/Public Speaking
      9. 19.8 Portfolio: Everyday Rhetoric, Rhetoric Every Day
      10. Further Reading
      11. Works Cited
    6. 20 Portfolio Reflection: Your Growth as a Writer
      1. Introduction
      2. 20.1 Thinking Critically about Your Semester
      3. 20.2 Reflection Trailblazer: Sandra Cisneros
      4. 20.3 Glance at Genre: Purpose and Structure
      5. 20.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Don’t Expect Congrats” by Dale Trumbore
      6. 20.5 Writing Process: Looking Back, Looking Forward
      7. 20.6 Editing Focus: Pronouns
      8. 20.7 Evaluation: Evaluating Self-Reflection
      9. 20.8 Spotlight on … Pronouns in Context
      10. Further Reading
      11. Works Cited
  5. Handbook
  6. Index

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Articulate and analyze key rhetorical concepts in presenting a position or an argument.
  • Demonstrate awareness of context, audience, and purpose in a position argument.
  • Identify the thesis and supporting evidence of a position argument.
  • Distinguish different types of evidence used in a position argument.

The purpose of a position argument is to persuade readers to adopt a viewpoint. Writers of position arguments focus on a thesis that takes a stance on a debatable issue and support that thesis with reasoning and evidence. When writing persuasively, consider your audience and use the kinds of reasoning strategies and evidentiary appeals you believe will be convincing. In addition, use language with which your audience is most comfortable. In academic environments, academic language is generally most acceptable, although you may choose to challenge this notion for rhetorical purposes. Outside academic environments, tailor your language to connect best with your audience.

Reasoning is most effective when it is built on evidence that readers recognize as logical and practical. Suppose you want to persuade your audience that because of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, additional police should be hired to protect the building and the people who work there. You could include information about the number of police on duty that day, the number of people injured, and the amount of damage done. You then could explain how the number of police on duty was insufficient to protect the people and the Capitol.

Additionally, you identify and refute the counterclaims. An example of a counterclaim against hiring additional police officers might be that the cost is too high. Your response, then, might be that the cost could easily be shifted from another nationally funded source.

Characteristics of Position Arguments

The characteristics of a position argument include the following elements.

Ethos (Ethical Appeal)

You establish credibility by showing readers that your approach to the issue is fair and that you can be trusted. One way to demonstrate fairness and trustworthiness is to use neutral language that avoids name-calling. For instance, in your paper about hiring additional police to defend the Capitol, you would avoid taking political sides and would use neutral language when describing police, workers in the Capitol, and demonstrators.

To show trustworthiness, always follow these guidelines:

  • Use only respected, reliable sources as evidence. Avoid sources that lean heavily to the political right or left or that are otherwise questionable as to accuracy. Reliable sources include scholarly, peer-reviewed articles and books; professional articles and books; and articles from magazines, newspapers, websites, and blogs. For more information about credible sources, see Research Process: Accessing and Recording Information and Annotated Bibliography: Gathering, Evaluating, and Documenting Sources.
  • Present evidence from sources in the same context in which it was originally presented. Do not change the original author’s meaning or tone. Be especially careful of such changes when you paraphrase or summarize. See Spotlight on… Citation for more about paraphrasing and summarizing.
  • Cite evidence to the proper sources. Use the citation style required by your instructor, usually MLA Documentation and Format or APA Documentation and Format Proper citations direct readers to more information about your sources and show you are not plagiarizing.
  • Incorporate common ground between readers who support your position and those who do not. To do this, many authors use evidence pulled from patriotic or religious documents to create ethical appeal. For instance, regarding the activity that took place at the Capitol, both sides might find common ground in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which outlines rights of the people. The protestors might cite the section of the amendment that deals with freedom of assembly; those on the other side might point out that the amendment guarantees “the right of the people peaceably to assemble” and that the assembly was not peaceable.

Logos (Logical Appeal)

You appeal to your audience’s intelligence by showing that you understand the value of sound reasoning. To do this, state your position clearly and support it with rational arguments, critical thinking, and credible evidence. Also, avoid exaggerating or making claims you cannot support with reliable evidence. Many authors use facts and statistics to create logical appeal.

To appeal to logic, follow these guidelines:

  • State your position clearly with easy-to-understand language. For example, to appeal to readers’ intelligence in your paper about hiring additional police to defend the Capitol, avoid using vocabulary that would feel unnatural. Instead of writing “The verbiage from the campaigners importuned the dispossession of their statesmen,” write “The protestors demanded the resignations of their congressional representatives.”
  • Support your position with reasoning that is neither incomplete nor faulty. Sound reasoning is that which all can agree makes sense. For example, you would not contend that to be ready for future protests, the Capitol police force must be doubled from 2,000 to 4,000 because you cannot know the number needed at any time. However, you could argue that the Capitol police force and government leaders should study the January 6, 2021, riot to determine how many additional police are needed, should such an occasion arise again.
  • Present your critical thinking through a well-constructed argument. By ordering your position argument in a manner that moves logically from one point to the next, you help guide readers through your thought process, which is reflected in the smooth flow of ideas that work together to support your thesis.
  • Incorporate credible evidence from trusted and reliable academic, government, media, and professional sources. Using these sources shows readers that you recognize biased material and have excluded it from your paper.

Pathos (Emotional Appeal)

You appeal to your audience’s feelings—such as sympathy, anger, fear, insecurity, guilt, and conscience—to support your position.

For example, to appeal to your audience’s emotions in your paper about the need for more Capitol police, you might do the following:

  • Help your readers understand feelings of fear. One way to appeal to this emotion is to quote from interviews with government workers and bystanders who were hiding behind locked doors and had no police protection.
  • Use vivid description and concrete language to recreate images that showed lone officers overwhelmed by crowds of people and beaten.
  • Use nonaggressive language to address the positions of readers who do not support your stance. For example, some readers may believe that the federal government spends too much money already and should not allocate more. By using language that is not inflammatory, you can show your empathy for others, and this may help you convince them to support your position.

Kairos (Timeliness)

The sense of timing—presenting your position at the right time—is critical in a position argument. The issue must be worthy of attention at the time it is presented for readers to feel a sense of urgency. For example, in an argumentative paper about the significance of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, you could do the following:

  • Point out the history of the BLM movement, which began in 2013 after the acquittal of the man accused of killing Trayvon Martin (1995–2012) in 2012.
  • Note that today, most of the speeches delivered in BLM rallies held across the country reference the May 2020 murder of George Floyd (1973–2020).
  • Emphasize that Floyd’s killing remains front and center in the minds of rally participants. In other words, the topic of Floyd’s death is timely, and related circumstances indicate a favorable time for action.

You can find further discussion about these appeals in Rhetorical Analysis: Interpreting the Art of Rhetoric.

Key Terms

These are key terms and characteristics of position arguments:

  • Allusion: direct or implied reference to a person, place, work of literature, idea, event, or anything a writer expects readers to know about. Allusion is a frequently used literary device.
  • Citation: reference to the source of information used in a writer’s research.
  • Critical thinking: ability to identify and solve problems by gathering information about a topic and then analyzing and evaluating evidence to form a judgment.
  • Counterclaim (dissenting opinion): statement of what the other side might say in opposition to the stance the writer takes about an issue.
  • Ethos: appeal to readers’ ethical sense; establishing authority and credibility.
  • Evidence: facts and other information that prove or disprove the validity of something written or stated.
  • Introduction: first part of a paper. In position arguments, the writer alerts readers to the issue or problem discussed and often presents the thesis at the end of the introduction.
  • Kairos: appeal to timeliness of the subject matter.
  • Logos: appeal to readers’ sense of logic, or reason.
  • Pathos: appeal to readers’ emotions.
  • Purpose: author’s reason for writing the paper. In a position argument, the purpose is to persuade readers to agree with the writer’s stance.
  • Reasoning: logical and sensible explanation of a concept.
  • Recursive: movement back and forth from one part of the writing process to another.
  • Rhetorical appeals: methods of persuasion (ethos, logos, pathos, and kairos).
  • Rhetorical question: questions intended to make a point rather than to get an answer. Rhetorical questions, which often have no answers or no obvious answers, appear frequently in argument writing as a way of capturing audience attention.
  • Topic: subject of a paper. In this genre, the topic is a debatable issue.
  • Thesis: declarative sentence (sometimes two) that states a writer’s position about the debatable issue, or topic, of the paper.
  • Transitional words or phrases: words and phrases that help readers connect ideas from one sentence to another or from one paragraph to another. Transitions establish relationships among ideas.
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