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Part I. Basics/Process

  A. Chapters 1-6: Start

  B. Ch. 7-13: Organize

  C. Ch. 14-20: Revise/Edit

Part II. College Writing

   D. Ch. 21-23: What Is It?

   E. Ch. 24-30: Write on Rdgs.

   F. Ch.31-35: Arguments

  G. Ch. 36-42: Research

  H. Ch. 43-48: Literature

   I.  Ch. 49-58: Majors & Work

Part III. Grammar

 Study Questions




Introduction to Dialogic/Dialectic Writing

See also "Basics," Advanced," and "Samples" in this chapter.




This introductory page of the "Dialogic/Dialectic" chapter offers a simple, brief summary.  For more, go to "Basics" and to "Sample Papers" by students. If you understand this type of paper already or want to explore it in more depth, you might prefer to read "Advanced Methods."  All five web pages of this chapter are listed in the right-hand column--simply click on the page you want to see. 


Definition of a Dialogic/Dialectic Paper

A dialogic or dialectic paper is a multiple-arguments paper on a single, usually controversial issue.  It is similar to a three- or four-way oral debate among opposing experts or political candidates as they argue about a single important issue.  A typical dialogic paper often may present or imply three viewpoints: two of them completely opposing each other, and the third either opposing the first two or representing a compromise or higher point of view. 

A dialogic paper usually does not take a single stand on an issue; rather, it attempts to represent all sides equally, even if the author happens to believe more in one side than another.  Sometimes a dialogic paper will offer the author's own opinion in the very end, in the conclusion, but otherwise such a paper usually is fair, balanced, logical, rational, and equal in its treatment of all sides it represents.  A dialogic paper is like a thesis paper in that it shows an argument, but rather than just one argument, the dialogic paper shows several: in a way, it is like combining three thesis papers together, one after the other.  A dialogic paper also is like a conversation among several people who disagree on a subject; however, the dialogic paper presents each point of view fully before continuing on to represent the next point of view. 

Examples of dialogic papers include debates among several people when each debater presents his or her point of view fully and without interruption, and research papers that show separate and opposing arguments on a controversial subject.  


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Writer's Goal or Assignment

The goal of writing a dialogic or dialectic paper usually is to complete an academic assignment asking you to show a debate or argument among two to three opposing viewpoints.  To do so, you should write using a dialogic structure (two arguments opposing each other and, if requested, a third opposing argument, compromise, or higher point of view) using three or four body sections. Start your paper with an introduction that briefly and clearly offering your two or three opposing viewpoints briefly and clearly.  (If your instructor allows or requests it, you also may have a very brief first section, after the introduction, that reports on the issue's history or background.)  Then devote the great majority of your discussion to the body section, in which you develop strong, clear supports for each position.  Your supports should be details from from experts and/or, if you are writing from personal experience, your own personal-experience examples. In your introduction and conclusion, clearly indicate the type of paper you are writing and the two or three opposing arguments you are discussing. 

If you are writing a research paper, each body section must include quotations, paraphrases, and/or illustrations and other visual materials from your required and optional sources.  These source materials should support your own points of discussion in your paper, should be  substantial in quality and quantity, and should come from authoritative sources.  Also attach a bibliography appropriate to your field, discipline, or profession.


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Summary/Outline of the Visual Structure

Here is a typical structure or organization for an _____xxx________.  More development of this structure is shown in the "Basics" section.

Organization of a Dialogic/Dialectic Paper

Unique Title 


Intro Paragraph:

MAIN SUBJECT,  3-4 opposing arguments, & introductory details


Body Section 1:

An argument and supporting details

Body Section 2:

Its opposing argument and supporting details

Body Section 3:

A compromise or higher position and supporting details

(Optional Body Section 4: another compromise or higher position and supporting details)


Concluding Paragraph:

and concluding details



Jones, A.J. Book One, et al.

Smith, B.K. Book Two, et al.


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Focusing Methods

A "focus" in writing helps you at any given moment to concentrate on writing.  Here are several helpful, important focuses people use to develop a ______ _______________________________________________________. 


[Below, substitute the proper info for the type of paper for the stuff on analyses as given here:]

SUBJECT: SUBJECT: If helpful, brainstorm a list of subjects.  Choose one carefully.  Will it appeal to you throughout your writing time?  Do you have enough details or examples to support what you are saying, or can you find them easily?  Can you write about your subject fully and logically?  What is the problem and what are the several solutions your paper will represent?  Will your audience find your paper and its solutions reasonable, appropriate, and interesting?   (If you wish to represent only one side of an argument, see "Thesis Essay.")

FIRST & SECOND DRAFTS: Start with one or two methods that work best for you, but develop the others in later drafts.

  1. Free-write: write as much as you can quickly on what you know or have collected about your subject or its parts. 

  2. Gather details: write descriptions or a list of the proofs you have for your opinions--facts, quotations, and/or experiences.

  3. Write for your audience: visualize it.  What beliefs or arguments is it willing to consider, and in what style and tone?

  4. Organize: make an outline using the structure above or whatever structure your instructor suggests.

  5. Research: if required, mix research of your paper with the above methods to develop a first draft before, during, or after your research.

STYLE, TONE, and WRITER'S ROLE: Develop (in early or late drafts) an academic style and tone of calm, reasoned, fair, balanced logic.  Relay each viewpoint calmly and rationally by using such phrases as "Some people believe...."  Do not take sides, emotionally or logically (until possibly the conclusion).  

AUTHENTICITY: Be as real and meaningful as you can to your audience, your content, and yourself.  First, respect your audience: try as fully as you can to answer its questions using a pattern and style it expects.  Second, find the heart of the meaning in each of your three arguments and write about them with as much balance and fullness as possible.  Third, make the subject your own: explore the differing points of view to discover what they mean at their deepest.     


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Section F. Argument


Chapter 32. Dialogic/Dialectic:







Related Chapters:


Recommendation Report

Magazine/Nwsltr. Article

 Related Links in

12. Types of Papers

14. Online Readings

16. Research Writing

20. Major/Work Writing



Updated 1 Aug. 2013

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Previous editions: Writing for School & Work, 1984-1998;, 1998-2012
6th Edition: 8-1-12, rev. 8-1-13.  Text, design, and photos copyright 2002-12 by R. Jewell or as noted
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