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Expressing disagreement in academic writing

The heart of a disagreement is a resistance to something someone else is saying. Your resistance can take the form
of believing the opposite or simply believing something a bit different. An academic or professional disagreement
(formal disagreement) should be logical, and balanced, showing respect for the opposing opinion.
In writing from research, you often must not only present facts, but also disagree with an author or analyze what he
or she says. This ability to summon information and reach a conclusion is fundamental to being able to think
academically.
Steps:
1)Starting by Reading
Generally your very first focus should be on the text of the reading with which you will agree of disagree. You should
be able to understand the text well enough not only in content, but also in structure, such that you can easily see its
individual points.
2) Writing Your Disagreement
Once you've carefully read your text, start writing. You can start by organizing/outlining, by collecting/expanding
upon your critical-reading notes you've already made, or simply by writing your point-by-point disagreements.
You must imply that you are being very logical in tone and word choice.
Also be sure that you have plenty of quotations for supporting the points you are making.

You must make clear at the very beginning of each major body section that you are disagreeing. The way to establish
that you are disagreeing is simply to state it.
EXAMPLES OF THE FIRST SENTENCE OF A TOPIC SECTION
First, Smith is wrong when she says, "______".

Second, Smith incorrectly says, "______".

Another way in which Smith is wrong is her _____.

Yet another reasonable belief about this subject is _____, but Smith states the opposite. She argues that _____.

You also need to include several quotations from the author in each body section. This is important because your
audience needs to hear what the author is saying from the author's own words. In this way, your own
disagreements will become clearer to your audience. Throughout your paper, you should alternate between what
the author says and what your own disagreement is.
THREE WAYS TO ALTERNATE BETWEEN YOURSELF & AUTHOR
• Discussing Your Disagreement First
• Discussing the Author's Viewpoint First
• Mixing Explanation and Disagreement
1. Discuss your own disagreement at length. Then explain the author's point of view and why, point by
point, he or she is wrong.
2. Discuss the author's point of view first. Then explain why she is wrong.
3. Use a less-common method, which is to mix the two methods above- explanation and disagreement.









AVOID using personal
judgement words
USE words referring to
the evidence
I think
From examining the
findings,
I feel In light of the evidence,
I believe From previous research,
I am convinced that Considering the results,
I disliked According to the figures,
I liked As shown in the diagram,
I agree
It is evident from the data
that
I disagree The literature suggests
I am sure that Given this information,
It is my belief that Some theorists argue that


Use the 3rd person or 'It' constructions.
It could be argued that It has been suggested that
It can be seen that It appears that
It was found that It is generally agreed that
It could be concluded
that
It seems that
It tends to be It is widely accepted that
It is doubtful that
It is evident from the data
that











Example 1: Discussing Your Disagreement First

First, Smith is wrong to say, "Martians should be allowed to control the dark side of the
moon" (16). He is wrong because the moon is much closer to earth; therefore it makes sense
that Earth control all of it. In addition, the moon should be a demilitarized zone that is safe for
all to use.
Smith believes that Martians are "peace-loving people" who would "never attack us," even
though, as he says, "they simply feel less threatened if they have bombs in their cities"
(18). He also argues that Martians appear to be much more aggressive than they really
are. Here is a closer examination of these issues, point by point....

Example 2: Discussing the Author's Viewpoint First
First, Smith is wrong to say, "Martians should be allowed to control the dark side of the
moon" (16). Smith believes that Martians are "peace-loving people" who would "never attack
us," even though, as he says, "they simply feel less threatened if they have bombs in their
cities" (18). He also argues that Martians appear to be much more aggressive than they really
are.
Let's examine these issues point by point. First, The moon is much closer to earth;
therefore it makes sense that Earth control all of it. In addition, Martians may want to place
military installations on the moon, but the moon should be a demilitarized zone that is safe for
all to use. Third,....

Example 3: Mixing Explanation and Disagreement, Point by Point
First, Smith is wrong to say, "Martians should be allowed to control the dark side of the
moon" (16). However, the moon is much closer to earth; therefore it makes sense that Earth
control all of it. Smith believes that Martians are "peace-loving people" who would "never
attack us," even though, as he says, "they simply feel less threatened if they have bombs in
their cities" (18). However, the moon should remain a demilitarized zone that is safe for all to
use. He also argues that Martians appear to be much more aggressive than they really
are. However,....