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Making convincing arguments

LSE-Study-Toolkit-making-convincing-arguments-iconThe ability to make convincing arguments is hugely important for your studies at LSE. Over your time here, you will need to come up with arguments in the essays that you write, the exams that you sit, and even in the debates and presentations that you engage or deliver in classes and seminars.

Making an argument means being able to adopt a position in relation to questions in the social sciences, supporting it with evidence, and being sensitive to its strengths and weaknesses. An important skill in this regard is critical analysis. Critical analysis involves moving beyond offering descriptions of theories or cases in the social sciences; it means weighing or evaluating how persuasive competing explanations in the social sciences might be. Critical analysis is important when justifying your arguments because it means that you have reflected on and shown why your position is more convincing than others.  

For example, if you read a report which says that ‘poverty is on the increase’, you should not just accept the statement. Instead you should ask questions like:

  • Who wrote the report? Is the source credible? Does it have any bias?
  • What is the evidence? How persuasive is it?
  • Do other sources agree? Why/Why not?
  • How is poverty measured in the report? What impact does this have on the findings?

You should then form your own conclusion about whether poverty is on the increase or not (your argument, claim or thesis). To present your conclusion in an essay or seminar, you will then need to explain the reasons for your position (justification) and support your reasons with evidence (support). You also need to be sensitive to your arguments’ strengths and weaknesses.

Watch

What does critical analysis actually mean? - advice from LSE Professor David Lewis

Read

Making convincing arguments in essays

Making convincing arguments in exams

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