General questions

How can I think through complex ideas so that I have a good understanding of them?

Ask questions, do not be satisfied with easy answers, and do not make assumptions about what things mean. (See pp 83-6, 105-7, 124-8.)

What do I need to do to be convincing in my reports, essays, and presentations?

Make sure you have a good analytical structure and have a strong argument or explanation. (See pp 81-6, 121-8.)

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How do I make my reasoning easy to follow for people reading or listening to my arguments and explanations?

Make sure that you properly indicate the reasoned links you are making, signalling the analytical structure to your audience. (See pp 27-9.)

Why, and how, should I use footnotes or other references in my work?

They provide references to authority, which strengthen the substance of your reasoning. (See pp 65-7, 78-9.)

What should be the goal of my reasoning?

Reasoning has many purposes, each of which will affect the precise way that you argue or explain. (See pp 4, 21—2, 124-5.)

When writing or presenting, how do I deal with ideas with which I do not agree?

Make sure you use reasoning to show explicitly why an idea is wrong, thereby preventing criticism of your work. (See pp 85-6, 112-13.)

How do I make sure that I understand the interpretive frameworks that are central to all knowledge?

In your thinking, you need to distinguish between 'facts' and the way that they can be understood as relating to other 'facts'; in your writing, make sure that you use framing premises. (See pp 5-6, 45-6, 78, 111-13.)

What are the two key components of a good argument or explanation?

You need premises (reasons, evidence) to support your conclusion (a clear statement of what you are arguing for or explaining). (See pp 19-22, 32-6.)

How can I distinguish between my ideas and what I am saying about others' ideas in my essays and presentations?

Clearly distinguish between when you are arguing directly and when you are arguing indirectly. (See pp 57—60, 112—16.)

What is wrong with giving just one reason for my conclusion?

Your arguments will not have enough breadth and will not address all the issues that your audience is expecting you to consider. (See pp 44-5, 71-4.)

How can I be more effective in doing research and reading before I write?

Ask questions, and understand the relationship between your sources and your own essay, presentation, or report. (See pp 107-13.)

How can I assess someone else's reasoning to see if they have presented a good argument or explanation?

You can 'cast' their work into claims and a structure diagram. (See pp 12-15, 32-7.)

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