Many questions were buzzing around in my head the first time I heard the sentence “make sure to include a counterargument in your paper” in one of my college classes. The main question that surfaced was “Where in the world do I put a counterargument?”.
You should already know from the previous post that a counterargument is a possible argument against the argument you made in your paper. Finding the correct place to put this counterargument is like a puzzle, you can put it anywhere it fits.
The counterargument can go anywhere that you want, except the conclusion. This is because no new information is supposed to be added to a conclusion, it is only expected to tie in the points that have previously been introduced. Also, counterarguments are not often seen in the middle of academic papers because they often do not make sense placed in the middle of all of your main points. The most common places for a counterargument are in the introduction, the paragraph after your introduction, or the paragraph after all of your main points.
As part of your introduction
Placing your counterargument in your introduction is one effective way to include your counterargument. Stating the counterargument before you introduce your topic and/or state your thesis can be successful because it informs the reader why you are writing the academic paper in the first place.
See this example from The Dangers of Dams:
Around the world, there are hundreds of dams of different sizes. Dams are used for irrigation, flood defenses, water supply, and hydroelectric power. Despite these positive elements, however, there are also many bad elements related to dams. Dams have a negative global impact because they eat up valuable land resources, ruin wildlife habitats, effects endangered species, and create damaging greenhouse gases.
First, the author effectively conveys the counterargument, “dams are used for irrigation, flood defenses, water supply, and hydroelectric power”, then he states his main argument that will be discussed throughout the paper, which is the “bad elements related to dams”.
After your introduction
Placing your counterargument in the paragraph after your introduction is beneficial to the reader because you are including the anticipated reaction from the audience that you will work against. This will show that you aren’t one-sided and that you are open to other ideas, which will allow the reader to trust you.
See example below (adapted from The Dangers of Dams):
Around the world, there are hundreds of dams of different sizes. There are many bad elements related to dams. Dams have a negative global impact because they eat up valuable land resources, ruin wildlife habitats, effects endangered species, and create damaging greenhouse gases.
However, many people believe that there are many positive aspects of dams. For example, they are used for irrigation, flood defenses, water supply, and hydroelectric power. Individuals see these positive aspects as more important than the ongoing negative effects because they use these resources in their everyday life.
First, the author makes it clear in the thesis that the paper will be focusing on the reasons that dams are creating a negative effect. The paragraph following the introduction includes the counterargument that is anticipated, which is the positive effects of dams.
As a paragraph after your main points
The counterargument can be used in a paragraph after your main points. This is an effective placement because the reader gets the chance to hear all of your main points and get their own idea in their mind about how they feel about your topic.
See example of the outline below regarding The Dangers of Dams:
- First paragraph: Introduction (Paragraph containing what the paper going to be about – the negative effects of dams)
- Second paragraph: First main point (Paragraph on how they are eating up of valuable land resources)
- Third paragraph: Second main point (Paragraph on how they ruin wildlife habitats)
- Fourth paragraph: Third main point (Paragraph on how they have bad effects of endangered species)
- Fifth paragraph: Fourth main point (Paragraph on how they create damaging greenhouse gases)
- Sixth paragraph: Counterargument (Paragraph containing the positive effects of dams – irrigation, flood defense, ect.)
- Last paragraph: Conclusion
Finding a place to put a counterargument really isn’t that hard after all, right? They pretty much can go anywhere that fits. However, it is advised not to place your counterargument in your conclusion or in the middle of your paper. They are most commonly placed in your introduction, after your introduction, or directly following your main points. Just remember, finding a place to put your counterargument is like a puzzle, you have to mess around with your paper and figure out where it best serves its purpose! As long as you remember these key points when placing counterargument, you’ll be good to go!