When you're working on your essay, you'll find it helpful to switch between this map, and the one you're creating. To switch between maps, go to the Maps menu, and select the name of the map you want.

(When you're a bit more familiar with FreeMind, you'll find it quicker to use the Shortcut Keys -- you can also use Alt + Shift + Left, or Alt + Shift + Right to move between maps.)

You should also make sure that the main point you're making in the essay provides a full answer to the question you have been asked, or you will probably be marked down for irrelevance.

I usually keep a separate mind map for this. It's psychologically easier to put your discarded ideas somewhere else, rather than to delete them entirely. And if you've saved them elsewhere, you can easily reincorporate them if you decide that they were relevant after all.

Another way of asking this question is can you sum up in a sentence what the main point is that your essay is making?) If you don't have a main claim (or don't know what your main claim is!), then your essay will not get a good mark. You are assessed on the quality of the argument you put forward for your main claim, and in order to be able to do this we (and you) need to know what your main claim is.

You must be honest with yourself at this point: if you suspect that you haven't fully answered the question, then you must either (a) revise your answer so that you do have a full answer to the question, or (b) provide an argument for why it is that the angle you want to bring to the question is legitimate (for example, explain why it is legitimate to focus on just one aspect of the question).

You should state what your main claim is in at least two places, first in the introduction, and second in the conclusion. (The bits in between should be devoted to arguing for your main claim).

What reasons have you put forward as to why a reasonable (but sceptical) person should accept that your main claim is true? If you don't have any reasons (but merely a gut intuition) then you need to go back and revise, and find some arguments.

Does your main claim follow logically from the supporting reasons you put forward? And are those supporting reasons themselves true (or at least plausibly true)?

It is not enough e.g. to say that “I will be looking at arguments on both sides of this issue and coming to a conclusion”. You should tell us which arguments you will be looking at, whatyour evaluation of each of these arguments will be, and howthis analysis justifies the overall main claim you will be making. There are two reasons to give an overview of the structure of your argument: (a) it makes it much easier for the reader to grasp what you are saying, and why; (b) writing a summary of the structure of your argument is a good way of testing that you do in fact have a coherent argument.

Remember that in any academic debate, anything worth saying will be disputed. If you can't think of any reasons why someone might doubt your main claim, it's likely that you are in the grip of a dogmatic certainty that you are right. This is not good: your essay will come across as a rant, which is the last thing you want.

To be convincing, you might show that the doubts, while reasonable, are not well founded; or you could make your main claim more specific or nuanced in deference to them.

If there is, then either delete this material, or explain why this material is after all relevant.

If not then you are guilty of plagiarism. This is a serious offence, and you are likely to fail your course..

This map is intended to help someone who has to write an argumentative essay in a subject such as history or philosophy to write better essays with the help of FreeMind. Copyright for this map resides with the author. Released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike licence v.2.00. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/uk/

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