Identify arguments

Being able to identify arguments is an important part of critical thinking. It allows you to understand how people structure their thinking, and prepares the ground for analysis and evaluation, so that you can formulate an argument of your own.

What is an argument?

An argument is any statement or claim supported by reasons. Arguments range from quite simple (e.g. 'You should bring an umbrella, because it looks like it might rain') to very complex (e.g. an argument for changing the law or introducing a new scientific theory).

Arguments can be found everywhere. Whenever somebody is trying to show that something is true, present a point of view or persuade someone else to agree with them, you can identify an argument. News outlets, social media and academic sources are full of arguments that compete for attention and influence.

To succeed at university, you will need to identify academic arguments made by scholars. An academic argument follows the conventions of the relevant discipline, and can also be called a position, main point, contention, or central claim.

Taking it further