Are you wondering, "What is a claim in writing?" When you make an argument in writing and back it up with supporting evidence, you are making a claim. Claims are very common in research papers and certain types of essays.
Making a claim in your writing allows you to present the main idea of the document in the form of an argument that you will support with evidence throughout the document. A claim statement is a type of thesis statement in which you present the main idea of what you are writing in the form of an argument. Think of claims like a thesis statement in the form of an argument.
- Claims are matters of opinion, but they are stated as if they are facts and backed up with evidence.
- Any time you make a debatable statement in writing that is backed up with facts and/or other types of evidence, you are using a claim.
Argumentative claims don't have to be complex, but they do have to be more than just a fact-based statement that is obviously true. Instead, claims should be statements that are up for debate. As a writer, your goal is to effectively argue in favor of your claim. Review the examples below to develop a better understanding of what is a claim in an essay.
- statement - If you open an essay by stating, "I own a cell phone," this is not an example of a claim in writing. Assuming that you do, in fact, own a cell phone, this is just a statement of fact. It is not something that is arguable.
- claim - If you open by stating, "Every middle school student should have their own cell phone," this is a claim. This is not something that everyone agrees upon. Your paper will need to focus on supporting this claim with evidence.
Claims are common in different types of writing, including documents created for school assignments or in the professional world.
- argumentative essays - These essays focus on an issue that is controversial, presenting evidence that backs up the writer's claim.
- research papers - Academic research papers are designed specifically to provide evidence to confirm or refute the writer's hypothesis, which is a type of claim.
- literary analysis - When engaged in literary analysis, writers make a claim about a literary work, then provide evidence from it to support their claim.
- persuasive essays - Persuasive essays are a type of argumentative essay. They use fact-based information as evidence to back up a writer's claim.
- persuasive speeches - Persuasive speeches are presented orally, but many start with an outline focused on providing evidence for a primary claim.
- persuasive memos - Persuasive memos are often designed to convince readers to believe or act on a claim backed up by evidence.
In order to back up a claim in writing, you will need to provide evidence. Evidence is information that provides proof of or support for an idea. Your claim statement should be a logical conclusion that you reached as a result of reviewing and understanding valid, reliable evidence. Rather than expecting readers to simply believe that your claim is true, you'll need to provide them with evidence they can consider to reach their own conclusion.
There are many types of evidence:
- direct observation of a phenomenon or occurrence
- primary research, such as an experiment or content analysis
- synthesis of secondary research, such as a literature review
- information gathered from investigative interviews
- facts, statistics or other data
- expert opinions
- examples of past behavior
It's important to be aware that the fact you can find evidence in favor of your claim does not necessarily mean that your claim is a factual statement. There is also just as much evidence against a claim as there is evidence for them. The idea of making a claim in writing is to present a logical, fact-based argument for the claim that you are making.
Review a few examples of argumentative claims to help clarify what is a claim in writing. These examples can help you identify claims when reading works of writing, as well as provide you with inspiration when you need to write a claim statement.
- College students today should focus on learning skills that will qualify them to work effectively in a virtual environment.
- School uniforms help promote an inclusive educational environment for all students, regardless of socioeconomic status.
- In light of the severity of recent hurricanes, living near the coast is becoming increasingly hazardous.
- Yoga provides both physical and mental health benefits.
- Concrete is the best building material for residential structures.
- Children under the age of 12 should not be allowed to have social media profiles.
- Spending more than an hour per day on housework is a waste of time.
- People who get at least 10,000 steps per day are healthier than those who don't.
- Eating too many carbohydrates is the primary reason some people are overweight.
- Dining in restaurants is actually more economical for individuals or couples than cooking at home.
Note that the statements above are not commonly accepted facts. You may agree with some of these, but chances are that you don't agree with all of them. Each example above is a matter of opinion. If you write about any of these, you will need to back up with evidence in an effort to prove your point. Readers will decide whether or not they agree with your argument base on how effectively you make your point, as well as their own knowledge and/or opinion about the topic.
An argumentative claim will generally appear in the first paragraph of a document. The claim statement is usually paired with a hook to form the introductory paragraph of an essay or other document. The hook is designed to capture reader interest so they will want to learn more, while the claim statement lets them know what point will be argued in the paper.
When someone presents an alternative argument to your claim, that is a counterclaim. Another word for a counterclaim is a rebuttal. When someone presents a counterclaim, they are making a claim of their own. It will be up to them to state their counterclaim, then seek to back it up with evidence (just as you did when making the initial claim).
- claim - making an argument and backing it up with evidence
- counterclaim - presenting a rebuttal to a claim and backing it up with evidence
Debates involve claims (arguments) and counterclaims (rebuttals). When people participate in a debate, they prepare arguments for their claims and deliver strong rebuttals to the claims of their opponents.
Now that you know what a claim is in writing, consider taking a deeper dive into how this communication strategy can be used in writing and face-to-face communication. Start by exploring key ways the terms argument and debate differ. From there, investigate how examples of rhetoric can be used as a tool to persuade and motivate.