"They Say, I Say":

The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing 

by Gerald Graff & Cathy Birkenstein

In their guide to academic writing, They Say, I Say, authors Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein say “the underlying structure of effective academic writing—and of responsible public discourse—resides not just in stating our own ideas but in listening closely to others around us, summarizing their views in a way that they will recognize, and responding with our own ideas in kind. Broadly speaking, academic writing is argumentative writing, and we believe that to argue well you need to do more than assert your own position. You need to enter a conversation using what others say (or might say) as a launching pad or sounding board for your own views...You must find a way of entering a conversation with others’ views...If your own argument doesn’t identify the ‘they say’ that you’re responding to, then it probably won’t make sense.”

The authors suggest that when you enter into a conversation you have three options for responding: 1. Agree with a difference. 2. Disagree; 3. Agree in part and disagree in part. 

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