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Common Problems with
Arguing a Position


____    The issue the student is writing about is not really an issue: there is no counter argument.

____    The issue is not adequately described or opposing views are not clearly explained.


____    The writer does not assert a position on the issue; the writer may waffle, agreeing with one side and then the other, but never taking a stand.

____    The writer merely reports opposing positions.

____    The thesis is asserted too soon or too late.

____    The key terms of the thesis do not seem appropriate and are not carried through the essay.


____     It is difficult to see why the writer takes the position; the reasons would be difficult or impossible to list.

____    There is no explicitly cued, logical progression to the argument.

____    The argument would be stronger if the points were arranged in a different order.

____    Support is thin--relatively few examples, anecdotes, statistics, etc.

____    The argument is adequately supported but seems flat, uncommitted, lacking surprises or insights, and likely to bore readers.

____    The writer ignores readers--no objections or opposing arguments accommodated or refuted.


____    The tone seems inappropriate to the writer's purpose and assumed readers.


____    The citations and sources reveal a superficial or incomplete search for information.

____    Certain sources are inappropriate, dated, or peripheral.

____    The essay relies too much or too little on quoted material.

____    Quoted material is not integrated smoothly into the writer's text.

____    Sources cited are not in the reference list.

____    Citations and references do not consistently follow an accepted documentation style.