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Fixing a Broken Argument in Essay

Published by at August 18th, 2021 , Revised On August 23, 2023

Even the best plans in the world can fall apart, and that’s exactly how you might feel when you have to figure out fixing a broken argument in an essay. You spend weeks planning your message and laying out your argument.

Hunched over the keyboard, you spend many hours pouring your convictions into the document. The problem is when you get to a certain point; you realise this is going to crash and burn.

Your infallible, well-reasoned argument has taken a turn that leads you to a dead end. Panic sets in, and the temptation to right click and hit delete mounts, but at the same time, the deadline is looming.

Before you totally lose your mind here, let’s look at the problem in more detail to see whether your original argument needs to be dumped or just neatly reworked and fixed.

Also Read: Custom Essay Sample

Where Did it All Go Wrong?

First of all, it is essential to remember that this happens; it is just one of those things.

Sometimes your excellent research skills will prove beyond a doubt that you were wrong in the first place, sometimes you will change your mind, and of course, there is always the possibility you come across a well-written paper that uses your argument but fails to see the huge holes in the evidence. Your cringing is enough to put you off.

On rare occasions, you come to the realisation that you may well have a good argument, but it doesn’t actually fit the brief you were set and will leave you with an automatic fail for not reading the question correctly.

Whatever the reason, you have to suck it up and move on. It happens to even the best in their field, Hawking binned many papers, and Einstein tore up his parchment in rage. So, once you accept anyone can get it wrong, it is time to see if you can salvage it.

Also Read: Organisational Templates for Essays

What Caused the Broken Argument? 

It would help if you established whether the whole argument is flawed or whether you have a problem with one of the sub-arguments. It is time to go back to your research and check that you have correctly interpreted the sources, or did you slip up with a small misinterpretation that, once amended and reworked, will set you neatly back on track.

Of course, first off, you need to give yourself a break and stop panicking; this is not the end, it is a small deviation on your path to greatness, and there are several ways to make things right again.

Also Read: What Should be the Lenght of My Essay?

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Tips for Fixing a Broken Argument in Essay

Cut it Out

In some cases, you might be able to cut the failed elements. Of course, this depends on how reliant you are on that particular argument.

Before you make any changes, take the original copy and save it somewhere on your computer. Use a copy, so you still have the original version to go back to if this amputation doesn’t work.

If you can remove it without impacting the rest of the essay, you can then go back to the drawing board and figure out what new argument you can build to backfill the gaps.

You might want to run a second document and cut and paste out all paragraphs and topic sentences that might work if they were amended or even reordered.

Check your Research

Go back to the books and check your research; it might be that you need to provide more evidence sources and bring in the views of other authors.

You might well have not yet found or missed arguments that might save your bacon. There is every possibility you will find a paper that actually agrees with your reasoning and successfully proves it.

Refocus the Paper

Sometimes, a few tweaks here or there will be enough to refocus your paper and make the argument work again. It might not have to be a full rewrite. You may well be able to change your thesis enough that it will make the grade.

Change the angle slightly or add a new sub-argument that you didn’t think of initially. You will be surprised how much a fresh look with a clear head can help. If needs be, take a break and go for a walk to give your brain time to process and think things through before you start again.

Use it to your Advantage.

If you reach the ultimate conclusion that your whole thesis was wrong and you are now left thinking the complete opposite for an argument, all you have lost here is time.

Ok, so you might have to start again, but you can use your failed case and rework your thesis to argue against it. You can set out a new argument that proves anyone who has the misguided belief you started with is totally wrong.

Of course, because you didn’t panic and call for backup, no one ever needs to know you were on the wrong side, and you can walk away with your head held high.

Or you can be the bigger person and discuss how the argument changed sides during your research and set out the rationale for your new essay conclusion, thus helping others make the same mistake. Either way, you now have a fully working thesis.

Also Read: What is the Difference between Essays and Reports?

Admit Defeat

Rarely, and it really is rare, there is no way out of the situation, and you cannot salvage the shipwreck. In this case, it is time to let the boat sink and move on. However, you will still need a replacement essay, and you should try and stick with the same topic.

It may feel safest to abandon your focus and go and find a totally new fit, but this is not always the best way. With the research, you have already done in the area and your new and extended knowledge, it would be more productive to stick with the topic and focus on finding a new argument.

In the long run, you will spend more time creating a new essay from scratch than trying to rework the original one, and there is almost always something worth taking from your failed thesis.

Also Read: What is the Best Essay Writing Website?

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Frequently Asked Questions

Structure an argumentative essay as follows:

  1. Introduction: Hook, context, thesis.
  2. Background: Present topic’s significance.
  3. Arguments: State and support points.
  4. Counterarguments: Address opposing views.
  5. Rebuttal: Refute counterarguments.
  6. Conclusion: Restate thesis, summarize key points, and offer a strong closing statement.

About Alaxendra Bets

Avatar for Alaxendra BetsBets earned her degree in English Literature in 2014. Since then, she's been a dedicated editor and writer at ResearchProspect, passionate about assisting students in their learning journey.