Represent the author's line of argument
The goal of this technique is to visualize the author's line of argument
Visualizing the line of argument allows you to understand the author's argument in enough detail that you have the elements needed to map the debate.
In this technique, you paraphrase the authors main cluster's of points and visually arrange them along a set of issues milestones that describes the argument.
In this technique, you'll be creating notecards that summarize the points of the text on notecards like in Figure 1.
Each notecard should include:
1-4 can be copied from your notes on the text. 5 requires you to look for other information such as Support, Amplification and Qualification.
Support is any information offered to make a point more credible or believable. Almost all authors provide support for the main point. You should include support in your paraphrase if it's important for helping you understand and believe the point or if you think you will use it in constructing your position.
There are several kinds of support including these 3 common types:
Amplifications are statements that extend and refine the author's point. When you paraphrase, you must include amplifications because they are necessary to understand the author's meaning.
Qualifications modify the scope of a point my limiting its possible interpretation. You should include the qualification in your paraphrase if you find yourself tempted by the misinterpretation.
Authors create arguments to help a community resolve a set of problem cases -- successful arguments do this by moving the readers through 3 milestones (stages) of argument: "seeing the issue," "defining the problem," and "choosing a solution."
When classifying your notecards, you will want to figure out which stage of argument they fall.
At seeing the issue, authors try to get the reader to care enough about the issue to want it solved. Authors do this by (a) describing typical, recurring, or provocative problem cases and (b) through historical accounts of the controversy. In an empirical research paper, this usually happens in the introduction and background sections of the paper.
At defining the problem, authors explain the source of the tension to give readers the terms they need to understand the heart of the problem. In an academic paper, this usually happens in the background and purpose/hypothesis section.
At the third milestone, authors convince readers to accept and act on their recommendations. In an empirical research paper, the Methods, Findings and Conclusion are usually the author's solution to the problem (research question) raised in the purpose section.
When reading an argument, the author doesn't just articulate the main points they want you to accept, they also discuss "faulty paths" our counter-arguments that they want you to reject. They typically also give you a rebuttal or "return path" that gives you a reason to reject the faulty path. You can visualize the argument, main path, faulty path, and return path as follows:
For this technique you will need:
To visualize the line of argument in an author's text, do the following.
Starting with your notes on from the text, create a notecard for each topic / cluster of points. Each notecard should include:
Placing each notecard in one of the 3 milestone either:
Visualize the entire line of argument
Check that the milestones flow from one to another.
There is a fine line between staying true to the authors points and making sense of the argument. Remember the principle of charity -- if a small rethinking makes the argument clearer to you, do not hesitate to change your initial interpretation.
In this technique you will produce:
Kaufer, D. S., Geisler, C., & Neuwirth, C. M. (1989). Arguing from sources: Exploring issues through reading and writing. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. (p 73-96)