Structuring Information: Constructing an Argument

Whenever you need to produce an idea of your own, be it in a written or spoken form, structure it properly, so as to avoid lack of clarity, ambiguity, or misunderstanding. The ideas you produce are to be well-balanced, well-thought-out, meaningful, and compelling.

Make a CLAIM– state your position or stance on the issue.

Give REASON(s) — explain why your claim is legitimate. Be very clear and consistent at this stage, you need to walk the audience through the logic of your argument.

Provide EVIDENCE — provide information that supports the reasons; this could be facts, statistics, examples, prominent cases, expert opinion.

When invited to give your opinion, you are expected to provide a well-reasoned answer, following the structure “claim – reason(s) – evidence”.

E.g. (see Unit 1, Reading 1)

Question: Do you share the author’s view about the real picture of the US Foreign Service?


CLAIM: There is one point in the text which I don’t share. There has never been a myth that Foreign Service officers advance their own agendas. The author’s claim about such a myth is rather far-fetched.

REASONS: People have never seen Foreign Service as an independent body and there is no need to prove the opposite. It is common knowledge that foreign ministries in all countries pursue the policy adopted by the government. What’s more, Foreign Service is sometimes blamed for following the course of the government without questioning its relevance.

EVIDENCE: For example, the US Foreign Service was criticized by many Americans for advancing a military agenda in Iraq in 2003. It was suspected that intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was twisted to accommodate the government’s interests.

Use this structure when you are giving your opinion, writing an essay, making a presentation, writing a speech, or preparing for a debate: it will help you construct solid arguments and avoid a mess in the ideas you produce.