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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   Basics   Advanced   Samples   Activities


Introduction to Disagreement

Note: This chapter has FIVE web pages--be sure to also read "Basics," Advanced," and "Samples" in this chapter.  You may go to them by clicking on the links directly above, or in the right column.




This introductory page of the "Disagreement" 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 at the top of this page--and also in the right-hand column.  Simply click on one of the five pages.


Definition of a Disagreement

A disagreement with a reading or text is a response to something intelligent you have read.  It is often a short, argumentative essay--a response in which you disagree in a logical, organized way (with some agreement possibly allowed). 

It is not a simple report on what an author has said, but rather an argument that goes beyond the author's own thoughts.  It also is not an emotional speech against a text or a friendly, uncritical review of why the author is right or good; rather, it is a strong but calm, logical, and fairly argued series of statements and supports about why the author is wrong (and/or right).  If there is agreement allowed (by your instructor), it is a minor part of your response; the majority of your response usually should be disagreement. 

Some examples of disagreements to texts are longer, high-quality editorials in newspapers that respond to what some other author has written; and fairly and reasonably given speeches that argue against what someone has written or said.  The Gettysburg Address, for example, is in part a disagreement with the gloom-and-doom editorial writers of the time who were suggesting that the Union was bound to lose the Civil War.


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Writer's Goal or Assignment

The goal of writing a disagreement is to choose an argumentative text with which you disagree in whole or in part, and then to write your disagreement so that it appears as a calm, logical, and strong argument to readers.  If you need an online text, go to the chapter in "Section D" called "Resources & Readings."  If your instructor requests it, you may have a brief first section, after the introduction, that summarizes the text. 

Then you should write the body of your disagreement by responding to several of your text's points or ideas. Depending on what your instructor expects, you may organize your paper in three or four topic sections or as several point-by-point responses.  In the beginning of each topic section or point, first offer your own disagreement briefly.  Then support your disagreement in one or more paragraphs with quotations from your text/source and other details.  Your other details may include one or more of the following: personal-experience examples and stories; the experiences of others you know; and facts, details, and/or experiences from documented sources.  In your introduction and conclusion, clearly indicate the type of paper you are writing--a disagreement--and the author's overall argument, your own overall disagreement, and an interesting quotation, stories, and/or set of facts in each.   

If you are writing a research paper, each body section must include quotations and/or paraphrases from additional sources.  These quotations and/or paraphrases should support your own points of analysis, 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 a disagreement.  More development of this structure is shown in the "Basics" section.

Organization of Disagreement Paper


Unique Title 


and introductory details


Body Section 1: first disagreement and supporting details

Body Section 2: second disagreement and supporting details

Body Section 3: third disagreement and supporting details

(Optional Body Section 4: fourth disagreement and supporting details)


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 disagreement. 

SUBJECT: If helpful, brainstorm a list of texts you would like to use or, once you have one, a list of possible disagreements with it (and several main disagreements, if you wish).  Then choose carefully.  Will your points of disagreement 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 them objectively?  What is the main problem and solution your paper will represent?  Will your audience find your disagreements clear and interesting?

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

  1. Read critically: take your text apart so that you understand its contents and structure thoroughly (see "How to Read Critically"). 

  2. Free-write: write as much as you can quickly on what you know about your text or your disagreements.

  3. Gather details: mark or type the quotations in your text that best summarize the points with which you disagree and agree.  Write descriptions or a list of the proofs you have for your disagreements--facts, quotations, and/or experiences.

  4. Write for your audience: visualize it.  What details does it need to take seriously your disagreements?

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

  6. Research: if required, mix research of your disagreements with the above methods to develop a first draft during 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.  In your role as a writer, it may be acceptable to include strong or even dry disagreement (ask your instructor), but you must give the impression of being emotionally fair, balanced, and logical.

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 consider its own beliefs about your text.  Second, find the heart of the meaning in both your reading and your examination of it, and write about them clearly using high-quality supporting details.  Third, make your disagreements your own:  develop them in a way as meaningful to you as possible.   


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Section E.
Responding to Reading



Chapter 28. Disagreement:







Related Sections/Chapters:


Research Writing

 Related Links in

   3. Thinking & Reading

12. Types of Papers

14. Online Args./Readings

16. Research Writing


Updated 1 Aug. 2013

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1st through 5th 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.
Permission is hereby granted for nonprofit educational copying and use without a written request.
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Click here to contact the author: Richard Jewell.  Questions and suggestions are welcome.