Looking for gaps in your argument


coyote logic by matt knoth, Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

Your research report argues the case you are making and presents the evidence to support it. Be sure to make all the steps in your argument explicit, even if they seem obvious. Here is an example of an argument that does not follow, because not all the steps are articulated.

  1. The dog has a high alkaline phosphatase
  2. Therefore hyperadrenocorticism is a possible differential diagnosis.

What is missing? The second point does not follow from the first unless you also explain that high alkaline phosphatase is common in dogs with hyperadrenocorticism. You need to say so. And hopefully you will back up this statement with evidence from the literature. Without the evidence you are just making an assertion. Another gap can happen if you present the evidence but don’t make the argument. For example,

  1. The dog has a high alkaline phosphatase
  2. Dogs with hyperadrenocorticism commonly have high alkaline phosphatase concentrations.

Don’t leave the reader to make the argument or fill in the evidence. It is your job to do this.

You can also read more on being explicit in this post here.


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