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RMIT University Library - Learning Lab

Analysing an argument


This resource is designed to familiarise students with an argument analysis. It would suit any student studying at a certificate, diploma or degree level and is designed to help with developing essay and report preparation and writing skills.

Introduction: Analysing an argument in a text

The very first thing to do when beginning an analysis is to put away your biases (at least as much as you can). It doesn’t really matter what you think about the issue or the argument; in fact, you may disagree entirely, or may agree entirely with the argument. You should put that aside.

When all you can think about is your own perspective on an argument, you blind yourself to the actual argument before you.

The second thing you need to do when beginning an analysis is to actually observe what is on the page.

In analysing an argument in a text, the reader looks for the key argument. This argument may be at the beginning or even towards the end. In many cases, the article is a response to an argument put forward by someone else. The writer of the article you are reading may be making counterclaims to rebut the first writer’s argument.  

Knowing about the writer can help your analysis. Ask questions, such as, what is the writer’s purpose, allegiances (political or professional) industry?

Showing at least two sides to an argument demonstrates that the writer has considered different views. They may still favour one side and rebut certain views with counter-arguments. A writer will further strengthen their counter-arguments by giving evidence with referenced citations. 

In this tutorial