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Old Saturday, August 02, 2008
Faryal Shah's Avatar
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Default Analysis of an Essay

Follow the guidelines and use the format for a stress-free approach to writing a good essay.

Guidelines:

You are expected to analyze the logic of the argument. You must not start giving your opinion of the subject matter of the argument.
(For example, if the argument claims that a certain newspaper is not selling well because it has recently increased its price, you are not expected to give views on what makes a good newspaper, or on marketing strategies. You simply have to discuss whether the evidence provided warrants that conclusion.)

All the arguments will be seriously flawed. You will lose marks if you do not identify the major faults. The main categories of logical error that you should be able to spot are:
  • Generalizations
  • Problems with surveys and statistics
  • False causes
  • False analogies
  • Hidden assumptions
  • Inadequate authority



Format of your essay:

Part I - introduction

Write an introduction explaining in your own words what the argument claims.
End your paragraph with a statement such as:
However, this conclusion seems unwarranted, or
However, the information provided does not justify this conclusion or
This conclusion is not well supported / fails to convince/ is flawed etc.


Part II – the body of the essay

Write 2-3 paragraphs to identify and explain the faults that you have found in the argument.

For example, in the case of the ‘false cause’ you can explain what alternative reasons or other causes might need to be considered. In the case of inadequate surveys you can explain what is omitted in the methodology. In the case of misleading statistics and figures you can discuss what is wrong with the information.


Part III – what else is needed?

The final paragraph is the place to cover what else you would need to know before you are able to decide whether the conclusion is actually valid. This ‘what else’ paragraph obviates the necessity for a formal conclusion. Useful statements are along the lines of:

In order to decide whether, indeed, ABC is actually the case, it would be useful to have access to XYZ.

XYZ might include one or other of: Expert opinion (e.g. business consultant) / statistics / surveys / research data etc.





regards

faryal shah
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