What it Takes: Academic Writing in College

Laurence Behrens / Leonard J. Rosen  
Total pages
June 2012
Related Titles


What It Takes: Academic Writing in College prepares students for the most common college writing assignments: the summary, the critique, the synthesis, and the analysis. 


Derived from the top-selling Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum, this very concise, handy guide introduces each of the strategies required for writing successful college papers, and takes students step by step through the process of writing based on source material.  


Guides students in writing college papers with clear strategies that are useful for a variety of introductory or advanced courses requiring source-based writing assignments.


Explains the elements of argument including claim, support, and assumption to demonstrate for students how the Toulmin approach to argument is used in writing college papers.


Shows students how to support their academic arguments by helping them to evaluate and mine source materials for facts, expert opinions, and examples.


Annotated student argument paper highlights and discusses argumentative strategies that a student writer uses in drafting and developing a paper.

New to this Edition


New Professional and Student Examples

A new example critique in Chapter 2 is based on Charles Krauthammer's

“The Moon We Left Behind,” an argument against the cancellation of the

manned lunar program.

Additional readings about genetically modified foods have been added to Chapter 3 to further explain different types of syntheses.

A new model analysis in Chapter 4 applies a classic theory of rumor

propagation to a widespread rumor: that travelers in foreign lands were

being drugged and surgically deprived of their kidneys.

Updates to other chapters

Using airport pat-downs as an example, the model argument synthesis

in Chapter 3 now shows how the issue of individual privacy vs. public

safety will follow students off campus, into the wider world.

Chapter 4, on analysis, has been almost completely reorganized and


The Quick Access documentation guide now includes the 2010

APA and 2009 MLA guidelines, as well as examples for more types of sources.

Table of Contents


A Note to the Student  

CHAPTER 1 Summary  

What Is a Summary?  

Can a Summary Be Objective?  

Using the Summary  

Box: Where Do We Find Written Summaries?  

The Reading Process  

Box: Critical Reading for Summary  

How to Write Summaries  

Box: Guidelines for Writing Summaries  

Demonstration: Summary  

”Will Your Job Be Exported?”  

Alan S. Blinder

Read, Reread, Highlight  

Divide into Stages of Thought  

Write a Brief Summary of Each Stage of Thought  

Write a Thesis: A Brief Summary of the Entire Passage  

Write the First Draft of the Summary  

Summary 1: Combine Thesis Sentence with Brief
Section Summaries  

The Strategy of the Shorter Summary  

Summary 2: Combine Thesis Sentence, Section Summaries, and Carefully Chosen Details  

The Strategy of the Longer Summary  

How Long Should a Summary Be?  

Avoiding Plagiarism  

Box: Rules for Avoiding Plagiarism  

Chapter 2 Critical Reading and Critique  

Critical Reading  

Question 1: To What Extent Does the Author Succeed
in His or Her Purpose?  

Box: Where Do We Find Written Critiques?  

Writing to Inform  

Evaluating Informative Writing  

Writing to Persuade  

Evaluating Persuasive Writing  

“The Moon We Left Behind”

Charles Krauthammer

Persuasive Strategies  

Logical Argumentation: Avoiding Logical Fallacies  

Box: Tone  49

Writing to Entertain  53

Question 2: To What Extent Do You Agree with the Author?  

Identify Points of Agreement and Disagreement  

Explore the Reasons for Agreement and Disagreement:
Evaluate Assumptions  

Inferring and Implying Assumptions

An Example of Hidden Assumptions from the World of Finance


How to Write Critiques  

Box: Guidelines for Writing Critiques  

Demonstration: Critique  

To What Extent Does the Author Succeed in His or Her Purpose?  

To What Extent Do You Agree with the Author? Evaluate Assumptions.  

Model Critique: A Critique of Charles Krauthammer's “The Moon We Left Behind”

Box: Critical Reading for Critique  

The Strategy of the Critique  

Chapter 3 Explanatory Synthesis  

What Is a Synthesis?  

      Summary and Critique as a Basis for Synthesis

      Inference: Moving Beyond Summary and Critique


      Example: Same Sources, Different Uses

Box: Where Do We Find Written Syntheses?  

Using Your Sources  

Types of Syntheses: Argument  

Explanation: News Article from the New York Times  

“While Warning About Fat, U.S. Pushes Cheese Sales” - Michael Moss

Argument: Editorial from the BostonGlobe  

“Got Too Much Cheese?” - Derrick Z. Jackson

What Are Genetically Modified (GM) Foods?

“Genetically Modified Foods and Organisms” - The United States Department of Energy

“Why a GM Freeze?” - The GM Freeze Campaign

How to Write Syntheses  

Box: Guidelines for Writing Syntheses  

The Argument Synthesis  

The Elements of Argument: Claim, Support, and Assumption  



Demonstration: Developing an Argument Synthesis-Balancing Privacy and Safety in the Wake of Virginia Tech  

”Mass Shootings at Virginia Tech, April 16, 2007: Report of the Review Panel”

“Virgina Tech Massacre Has Altered Campus Mental
Health Systems”  

Associated Press

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act  

Consider Your Purpose  

Making a Claim: Formulate a Thesis  

Decide How You Will Use Your Source Material  

Develop an Organizational Plan  

Formulate an Argument Strategy  

Draft and Revise Your Synthesis  

Model Synthesis: Balancing Privacy and Safety in the Wake of Virginia Tech - David Harrison  

The Strategy of the Argument Synthesis  

Developing and Organizing the Support for Your Arguments  

Summarize, Paraphrase, and Quote Supporting Evidence  

Provide Various Types of Evidence and Motivational Appeals  

Use Climactic Order  

Use Logical or Conventional Order  

Present and Respond to Counterarguments  

Use Concession  

BOX: Developing and Organizing Support for Your Arguments

The Comparison-and-Contrast Synthesis  

Organizing Comparison-and-Contrast Syntheses  

Organizing by Source or Subject  

Organizing by Criteria  

A Case for Comparison-and-Contrast: World War I and World War II  

Comparison-and-Contrast (Organized by Criteria)  

Model Exam Response  

The Strategy of the Exam Response  


Chapter 4 Analysis  

What Is an Analysis?  

Box: Where Do We Find Written Analyses?  

How to Write Analyses  

“The Plug-In Drug”  

Marie Winn

      Locate and Apply an Analytic Tool

            Locate an Analytics Tool

            Apply the Analytic Tool

            Analysis Across the Curriculum

Box: Guidelines for Writing Analysis  

Formulate a Thesis

Develop an Organizational Plan  

Turning Key Elements of a Principle or Definition into Questions  

Developing the Paragraph-by-Paragraph Logic of Your Paper  

Draft and Revise Your Analysis  

Write an Analysis, Not a Summary  

Make Your Analysis Systematic  

Answer the “So What?” Question  

Attribute Sources Appropriately  

Box: Critical Reading for Analysis  

When Your Perspective Guides the Analysis

Demonstration: Analysis

      Model Analysis: “The Case of the Missing Kidney: An Analysis of Rumor” - Linda Shanker

      The Strategy of the Analysis



APA Documentation: Basic Formats  

MLA Documentation: Basic Formats  

Checklist Survey  

Instructor Resources