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How to read an academic article or watch an academic film/documentary? What is
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How to read an academic article or watch an academic film/documentary?
What is the thesis? The thesis is the main argument(s) or claim in the text. It is usually
(but not always) found in the introduction section (first few paragraphs) of the text. It is
usually one to three sentences that sums up the whole argument in the argument. If
the article that follows does not support the thesis, you have chosen the wrong thesis.
Label your answer Thesis.
A thesis is not a topic, which is very general, such as “This article is about the Civil
War.” That does not detail exactly what the paper wants the reader to know about the
Civil War and/or why. The thesis is also usually not a question or series of questions.
Those questions are usually answered later in the text and the answer(s) are the thesis.
Some theses can be quoted straight or partially from text. If you do so, use “quotation
marks” and cite the page number (p. 458). Others, you will have to use your own words
2. Outline the argument of the text. To convince the reader of the argument, the author
usually makes several points using evidence. List (1, 2, 3, ect.) the essential points of the
essay. These are points that the thesis rely on and without, the thesis would be
unconfirmed. Often these points are reflected in topic and conclusion sentences:
usually the sentence in an early and/or late paragraph of a section that explains the
main idea of that section. When an article shifts topics or emphasis, that usually marks
a new point.
Rarely, can a point be quoted straight from the text.
There is no formula for picking out the argument. Some articles contain three main
points, some contain forty. This is because arguments differ from text to text and
authors use all and only the points necessary to prove their thesis or argument. It takes
practice to become skilled at outlining an article and text efficiently and well. It may
take several exercises as well as your attention in class to become efficient at detailing
Padding your paper with many points that are not relevant will result in points being
3. Note and explain the key evidence used throughout the text. Authors support their
arguments and points with sources of information. After each point, list (i, ii, iii, iv,
ect.), the name and type (kind) of source and explain how and why is it important to
the point or overall article. This is may seem hard, but your gut descriiption is just fine.
4. Does this article prove that there is an African Diaspora? How or why not? Explain.