The Importance of Establishing and Developing a Clear Scholarly Argument
A carefully constructed argument is as vital to a successful academic or scientific paper as methodology and evidence are. Indeed, the argument or thesis of a scholarly article encompasses all other aspects of the article and also allows the author to share thoughts as original and engaging as the research and results from which the argument has grown. Although the argument of a paper can only be finally determined after the research has been completed and the evidence collected, it generally begins as the seed of that research, develops slowly as the work progresses and tends to influence the questions that are asked as well as the ways in which they are answered. For the purposes of a scholarly article, what your study means and why that meaning is important must be developed into a sustained and logical argument that focuses closely on your particular research while providing a larger intellectual or scientific context in which to consider that research.
In brief, a basic scholarly argument begins with introducing the problem or topic by providing background, context, current situation, previous literature and trials, and so on. You need not review every publication on the topic or consider every current concern, but you should say enough to allow your reader to understand your study and its importance, and to demonstrate that you are familiar with the sources and methods necessary to conduct your research successfully. Next, you should explain how you have approached the problem by describing and justifying your methods, and then report the results discovered through that methodology. The more creative part of an argument usually comes in the discussion of the evidence obtained and the conclusions drawn from it. You are free to interpret your research as you wish, but logical argumentation must be maintained while conclusions and implications should be reasonable in relation to your methods and findings. Careful explanations of your thinking are vital, especially when it differs significantly from what is found in previous scholarship in the area. Remember that what may seem obvious to you, steeped in your own research as you are, may not seem obvious to your readers, and there is a very fine line between underwriting and overwriting when an author is working to explain sophisticated interpretations.
If you have not carefully assessed your research, reflected at length upon its implications and come to valid and plausible conclusions, you will find it extremely difficult to devise a cogent and valuable argument about your work and communicate it to your readers. Even when a sound argument has been formed in the mind, it can be incredibly difficult to present that argument effectively in prose. Juggling the ongoing progress of an argument with citations from earlier studies and the complicated results of advanced research is never easy, especially when the structural guidelines and word limitations set by most journals come into play, yet a clear and well-developed argument remains a necessary aspect of an original research paper that scholarly journals will be eager to publish.
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