Informed Arguments: A Guide to Writing and Research
Copyright Year: 2019
Publisher: Texas A&M University
Conditions of Use
The textbook offers a thorough discussion of the writing process and the research process. The section on paragraph development is especially comprehensive. The section on the Writing Process could be more robust, particularly the discussion of... read more
The textbook offers a thorough discussion of the writing process and the research process. The section on paragraph development is especially comprehensive. The section on the Writing Process could be more robust, particularly the discussion of medium. With more and more emphasis on multimodality in freshman-level composition classes, this textbook would benefit from an expanded section on visual argument and/or non-traditional argument. The section on Rogerian Argument is very brief.
The content is accurate, although the section on Rogerian Argument doesn't give a complete picture of the strategy.
All the content is relevant, and examples can be easily updated as needed.
The language is accessible, and new terms are explained for readers.
Terminology and framework remain consistent.
The text is broken down into logical sections. It might be helpful to make the section numbers more easily accessible for readers. Some sections also have very large blocks of text that may be somewhat difficult to follow.
Topics are presented logically.
The PDF is mostly written text, which may be challenging for certain readers. The addition of more tables, graphs, colors, or images might help to break up the text to make it more accessible and easy to read. Section headings could also be more clear and easier to locate.
I noticed a few minor issues with widows/orphans, I also noticed one minor error: in section 4.18, "pro-choice" contains the hyphen, but "prolife" does not.
I don't see any major issues with inclusivity, although one or two sections might benefit from some language to alert a reader to sensitive content (such as the abortion issue).
This textbook covers all the topics I cover in my Composition II class, though I would like more on analyzing visual arguments (ads, photos, political cartoons). read more
This textbook covers all the topics I cover in my Composition II class, though I would like more on analyzing visual arguments (ads, photos, political cartoons).
Accurate, though to be picky in the block quote example (6.15) there is a period after the parenthetical citation contrary to MLA style.
Although mention of specific TV shows and Trump's inaugural speech may date quickly, these are tiny elements in the material. Most of the content will remain relevant for a long time.
The text's prose is accessible without being condescending.
In Section 3, Rhetorical Modes of Writing discusses narration, description, and exposition which I found out of place in a book on writing arguments. However, these are types of essays often assigned in freshman composition classes.
The text is divided into clear sections on each topic aspect which could easily be assigned.
There is a clear progression from assignment through the writing process.
The screenshot of database functions is distorted. Scrolling back and forth in a PDF can be awkward.
I noticed no grammatical errors.
Nothing stood out as offensive.
This textbook covers the topic of writing academic argument well. While I missed sample essays to analyze they can date a book quickly and instructors can easily add them to supplement the text. I found the sections on research and maintaining voice, areas where students sometimes struggle, particularly strong.
This comprehensive textbook, appropriate for an English Composition II course, both describes and explains six steps in the writing process for a first-year composition student. An example of a student’s prewriting is included. Rhetorical... read more
This comprehensive textbook, appropriate for an English Composition II course, both describes and explains six steps in the writing process for a first-year composition student. An example of a student’s prewriting is included. Rhetorical situation is explained well for first-year students. “Rhetorical Modes of Writing” provides explanation for many writing assignments students typically encounter in the composition sequence, including narration, description, classification, process, definition, comparison and contrast, cause and effect, and persuasion. Also, there are explanations and examples of a visual analysis essay. Toulmin Argument is written clearly for first-year students in a writing course, and Rogerian Argument is discussed and explained, as well. Inclusion of both arguments gives composition faculty options for how to best approach specific argumentative assignments in their courses.
Content is error-free and mostly unbiased. Initially, I found the logical fallacies sections cursory but appreciate the depth of argument in the last half of the textbook.
Most of the textbook reads as relevant and will remain relevant for some time. Most examples, such as TVs, e-books, reality TV shows, and hybrid cars, will remain relatable to first-year students. There is an outdated reference to TV Guide, which I’m confident traditional first-year students will need explained.
One of the most-impressive strengths of this textbook is the way the writers introduce, define, explain, and use terms throughout the text. Argument can be a complicated concept for students, and the sections focusing on types of argument and ways to construct effective arguments meaningfully and deliberately demystify the ways writers tailor their messages for target audiences. Later in the textbook, library database searching is explained well, especially with the Boolean examples.
Writing is discussed and explained before researching, which makes complete sense. The text also features helpful research worksheets to aid with search terms.
The textbook is available in multiple formats, including .pdf and Google Doc, allowing for integration with various learning-management systems. The textbook’s clear headings and page numbers allow faculty to point to specific sections or assignments from their syllabus. Or faculty can copy and paste particular parts into their specific learning-management system with section titles and authors clearly listed.
The textbook is logically organized, beginning with writing process. The research process is well written and provides solid examples of student research plans. The argument sections are well organized and build on one another.
Text and visual aides are mostly clear. The screen grab of library research results is blurry and difficult to view. I had no problems moving between the sections. Visual aides are labeled but are missing descriptive text that would help readers with visual deficits understand drawings, graphics, and charts.
I found no grammatical errors.
In a section that asks students to “Imagine Hostile Audiences” (p. 78), the textbook engages positions on abortion. In a first-year composition textbook, naming issues that some students will have lived through lacks sensitivity to what some of our students have had to endure—for both those who have carried an unwanted pregnancy to full term and those who have terminated a pregnancy. Certainly, other issues can illustrate hostile audiences without evoking the pain and stress that surround abortion.
Overall, this is an effective textbook for English Composition II.
This book covers everything that a first-year writing professor would expect to see, and it covers everything a first-year writing student will need to encounter for academic writing. The layout is logical and the tone is approachable enough that... read more
This book covers everything that a first-year writing professor would expect to see, and it covers everything a first-year writing student will need to encounter for academic writing. The layout is logical and the tone is approachable enough that students will not only be guided through the writing process, but will be given a guide and reference they can use throughout the rest of their academic careers. The information and its presentation concerning research is top-notch! Very informative and practical.
I found nothing inaccurate! The fundamental topics this book approaches are clearly and concisely illuminated, but they are, at heart, near-universal truths. Pantuso et al. present the basic tenets of the writing process in rock-solid terms and cite when necessary, giving a real sense of relevance, accuracy, and currency.
It appears that the main ideas presented in Informed Arguments will be in place for some time, so the relevance is not much of an issue here. As for being up-to-date, I'd hope that the authors do a once-over every few years with an eye toward their characterization of students, particularly when you see examples of student voice. The other area I'd suggest giving attention is the acknowledgment of multi-modal assignments; I'd expect more beyond the usual rhetorical mode structure found in so many textbooks.
The text is absolutely clear in how it presents ideas. Pantuso et al. never get bogged down purple or overly-academic prose. They never speak down to their audience or hold the subject of writing is such high esteem as to present themselves as elites guarding inaccessible information. There's a real sense that this textbook was written by humans who are concerned with getting across the important nuances of writing--something that we often miss in textbooks.
The no-nonsense approach that the authors take ensures that their text is indeed consistent throughout.
My biggest issues here are addressed in the interface portion, but I'd like to see clearer breaks, not only between sections, but in the writing examples. Occasionally you'll get a title at the end of one page, then the writing example begins on the next. Could use a bit more cleanup or widow/orphan consideration.
No issues here--the text is presented in the most logical
I may be biased against pdf textbooks, but I find them impossible to navigate with any sense of surety. This text could likely be reorganized of necessary, and seems to be presented somewhat modularly (though there is certainly a logical order to the text overall). If the material were presented as a central hub with explorable modules, I believe the layout would be easier to navigate. I'd also like more visual cues that I am moving from one topic to the next. Aside from the occasional obvious page break and slightly larger text for headings, I don't get much of a sense that I've moved from one section to another. The visuals that are provided are very helpful and logical; however, there are not enough. I'd like to see a few visuals related to the examples in the text. Take 4.8, for example: there's a student essay on the X-Files. While there is surely an issue of copyright concerning an image of Mulder and Scully, throw a clip art alien or something in there!
I noticed no grammatical issues!
I didn't see much to suggest that this book went either way on the scale of cultural sensitivity.
This is an especially comprehensive text on writing arguments intended for an audience of first year students. The authors very effectively assess the knowledge base of that readership and, accordingly, open the book with a chapter that offers... read more
This is an especially comprehensive text on writing arguments intended for an audience of first year students. The authors very effectively assess the knowledge base of that readership and, accordingly, open the book with a chapter that offers students a practical, step-by-step guide to the college essay writing process (from understanding the assignment on through incorporating feedback into a final, polished version of an essay). The authors also adeptly introduce the vocabulary students will need in the writing classroom and use it to introduce and unpack complex concepts in a way that avoids jargon and is, therefore, likely to be more easily understood by students. The text gives students a very solid foundation for understanding the essay assignments they are likely to encounter, not only in the writing class that uses this book but in their other college classes.
I saw nothing in the text that gave me concerns regarding its accuracy.
The book has a really nice, readable tone that is likely to appeal to students and was clearly produced by writers who are actively teaching students today. Their examples are ones students will likely relate to. One such instance is in the section on audience, where two different descriptions of the same event (one formal and intended for public consumption; the other reading more like a text to a friend and opening with "OMG!") are used to make the point that students are accustomed to taking audience into account often in their daily lives, even if unconsciously. The text very deliberately builds from the discussion in the opening chapter on how to read an assignment to the final chapter's highly detailed discussion of how to conduct robust academic research online. The research section, in particular, is something I'm now contemplating incorporating into my classes on Zoom this semester, in lieu of or in conjunction with a librarian visit. If you're teaching argument and/or researched argument, this book very elegantly and straight-forwardly covers all the bases. The book was written explicitly for use at Texas A&M, by professors at Texas A&M. This isn't all that intrusive, and I think it would absolutely be usable in classes outside of that university. It's just something to be aware of and explains why there are Texas A&M examples throughout.
This is a very clearly written text, that would be very accessible to first year college students of all ages. The authors do an excellent job of defining their terms and fully unpacking concepts that might be new to students.
The text builds a cohesive, internally consistent argument about how students may best go about argumentative writing. By the time students reach the final section on research and ethics, they should have everything they need to produce robust, ethical arguments within the writing process developed through the earlier sections.
Because it opens with the focus on simply how to read an assignment and goes all the way through the research progress, the book is structured in such a way that it could easily be incorporated into a one- or two-semester writing/research course.
I can think of no better way to organize this text. It very logically proceeds from one phase of the process of writing arguments to the next. Reading it, it very nicely aligns with how I already structure my own classes and one can easily see how it could be used to scaffold a one- or even a two-semester first year writing course.
The text was very user-friendly, with helpful charts and graphics. One thing to note is that there is a screenshot of the University Library page search box, which may not perfectly match all university libraries. A small detail, but something to be aware of if you're trying to bring this into your classroom outside of Texas A&M.
This is a very well edited and proofread text, which is obviously extra important in a writing class.
The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive. However, I'm not sure that it's particularly inclusive either. I'm unfamiliar with the student demographics of Texas A&M, so perhaps it is a great fit for them. However, the text might have benefited from a few examples that demonstrate the variety of student experiences. In classrooms with populations of students of color, parents, or disabled students, it might be desirable to augment the reading by bringing in some more inclusive examples for classroom discussion.
I highly recommend this text for first year writing classrooms.
The textbook is amazingly comprehensive, especially given its brevity. I was surprised to see, for example, how thoroughly the authors were able to cover major concepts in argument theory. The authors introduce not only classical argument, but... read more
The textbook is amazingly comprehensive, especially given its brevity. I was surprised to see, for example, how thoroughly the authors were able to cover major concepts in argument theory. The authors introduce not only classical argument, but also the Toulmin model and Rogerian argument, which is a great way to introduce students to the complexities of this concept. The only major shortcoming that I see is its focus on essays. While the essay is an important and useful genre for exploring ideas and generating knowledge, students need to be given opportunity to practice other forms (reports or proposals, for example) in order to more fully understand how to adapt their writing across varying contexts and purposes. The authors focus very heavily on the rhetorical situation, which they should, but that focus its somewhat belied by their concurrent focus on the form of the essay, which limits the purpose, audience, and texts with which a student might interact.
This text is remarkably well-aligned with current practices in writing scholarship and pedagogy. It's chapters offer concise yet thorough discussions of major concepts like the rhetorical situation, rhetorical appeals, and even ethics in writing. While "accuracy" is a tricky concept to apply to something as qualitative as writing, the text is in agreement with prevailing scholarly trends and practices.
The text is very relevant to its intended audience of freshman composition students. I particularly like the focus on process and rhetorical situation. The textbook begins by prompting students to understand a writing assignment, which is something that I cannot foresee ever becoming outdated. Having students begin by assessing the needs of their specific situation is so important and yet still so undervalued in a lot of writing curricula.
The text's rhetoric and examples are clear and very accessible. In fact, I think this textbook may be the most accessible to freshman college students that I've seen. The author's shy away from all but the most necessary jargon, and what specialized terms they do use (rhetorical situation, etc) are very fully contextualized and explained.
The books is very consistent across all chapters. Its rhetoric is well-organized around the central concept of the rhetorical situation. Even though the text doesn't fully address that term until Section 3, it opens by encouraging students to understand each specific writing assignment, thereby prompting them from the very beginning to understand fully the situation in which they are writing.
For the most part I feel like this text could be used in a variety of ways and its chapters assigned in varying sequences.
Given the recursive nature of writing, this text is organized in a very logical and utilitarian way. Each chapter develops its subject very well and provides enough context along the way for a freshman audience to be able to understand that subject. The overall chapter organization is also very practical, and develops the point of the book quite well, even if teachers decide to assign chapters in a different order than that in which they are arranged in the book.
This is one of the biggest flaws for me. A PDF is one of the least user-friendly interfaces; even a physical book makes it easier to mark important passages and easily move back and forth between them. I realize that OER funding availability makes interface a challenge, but this is a notable flaw of this text. It's hardly a reason not to adopt it, however.
I detected no grammatical errors whatsoever.
I would agree with this for the most part. I do question the use of President Trump's inaugural speech to exemplify the rhetorical situation, however. Maybe the divisiveness of Trump's administration will fade over time, but right now it seems like a poor choice, in that many students will have a hard time thinking in any way objectively about it. Given that no specific examples from the address are used, I'm not sure why the authors chose to specify Trump's inaugural address over the situation of an inaugural address more generally. For now and for the next few years, however, it seems like a poor choice.
Pantuso et al. have produced a clear, concise, and very useful textbook. It would be a great supplement or even primary rhetoric for a freshman composition course. If the authors were to revise the textbook to include a wider variety of genres--thereby exposing students to a wider variety of rhetorical situations--this would be an outstanding OER text.
I think it covers a lot of the basics, which is good, and I understand that it is intended to be a short, more concise introduction to academic writing. However, I would like to see a little more depth in areas like ethos, pathos, logos and the... read more
I think it covers a lot of the basics, which is good, and I understand that it is intended to be a short, more concise introduction to academic writing. However, I would like to see a little more depth in areas like ethos, pathos, logos and the rhetorical situation. These form the basis of modern argument, so it seems important to dig a bit deeper and to provide some relevant examples and situations to further explain these appeals.
The authors did an excellent job of accuracy and avoiding bias. Some of the points they make may give the wrong impression to students, however, like their description of the thesis statement being in the introduction in most cases. This is true, but it can be practically anywhere in the paper and I think it is relevant to let the students know that so their papers aren’t quite so mechanical and formulaic.
They did an excellent job of this, as well. This information doesn’t tend to change very quickly, but they still presented it in a way that should stand up to time very well, so I would say that this text will be useful for quite a while. A lot of texts tend to use examples that are quickly out-of-date (like political issues or current events); these can be more relevant and relatable to the students so they can help them to understand more easily, but they can quickly become irrelevant and have the opposite effect. Unless I overlooked it, I didn’t see any issues like that with this text.
It definitely is very clear. Again, some further elaboration on certain topics/concepts might make it even more clear (e.g., examples, more detailed explanations, and so on).
I didn’t see any issues with the consistency. Overall this book does a great job of holding together and explaining how each individual topic relates to the overall discussion of writing and the writing process. It speaks to the clarity of the text, as well, that each section of the book allows the text overall to support its own thesis about writing.
The book felt more linear than modular; in other words, it feels like the book should be read at the beginning as each section builds on the previous one. There were some exceptions like the visual arguments section; even these need some previous material to be fully understood and utilized, however.
The organization is excellent. This is the upside to the linear style I mentioned in the earlier section. If you tend to organize your class in this fashion, then this is a great book to do that; it will allow you to provide information that consistently builds upon the information before it.
I am NOT a fan of long texts that are in PDF format. This made it very difficult to navigate around in the text, particularly with a smaller device like an iPhone. I read it both on an iPad and an iPhone and when I was on the iPhone I found myself getting very weary of constant speed-scrolling to find an area later in the book (say, page 160 for example). I think a different format (like ePub) would be a huge improvement.
The book’s grammar looked excellent. I didn’t notice any particular issues, and being a rhetoric & composition instructor I’m very observant of things like that.
Being about a fairly innocuous topic in the first place (unless controversial examples are used) this book didn’t have any issues that stood out to me. I mentioned earlier that it tends to stay fairly up-to-date in its examples, and this is another upside of that — it’s not using anything that is overly controversial.
Overall it’s a very well-written text that could be used if you want a more concise and to-the-point discussion of the major aspects of writing and the writing process. I think it could use a little more detail, development, as well as examples, however. And I’m not a fan of having to scroll endlessly through a PDF document, so a different format seems to be in order.
Table of Contents
- Section 1: Howdy!
- Section 2: Getting Started
- Section 3: Rhetorical Situation
- Section 4: Types of Argumentation
- Section 5: Process and Organization
- Section 6: Joining the Academic Conversation
- Section 7: Researched Writing
- Section 8: Ethics
About the Book
Welcome to composition and rhetoric! While most of you are taking this course because it is required, we hope that all of you will leave with more confidence in your reading, writing, researching, and speaking abilities as these are all elements of freshman composition. Many times, these elements are presented in excellent textbooks written by top scholars. While the collaborators of this particular textbook respect and value those textbooks available from publishers, we have been concerned with disenfranchising students who do not have the resources to purchase textbooks. Therefore, we decided to put together this Open Educational Resource (OER) explicitly for use in freshman composition courses at Texas A&M University. Thanks to a generous grant from Dean David Carlson of the Texas A&M University Libraries, this project became a reality. It is a collaborative endeavor undertaken by faculty in the libraries and English Department as part of the Provost’s Student Success Initiatives at Texas A&M and continues to be a work in progress. Combined, Dr. Terri Pantuso, Dr. Kathy Anders, and Prof. Sarah LeMire have over 30 years of experience in writing and research instruction. Our goal is for students to leave this course as critical thinkers, polished writers, and informed citizens who can engage in civil public discourse. Gig ‘em, Ags!
About the Contributors