I read many articles on-line, but cannot understand where to draw the line between expository and argumentative writing. According to many articles, expository writing presents information. Argumentative writing tries to argue a case.

Every research paper I have ever read has some form of argument in it. That is their thesis. They might be arguing, "This new veterinary medicine we tested did not conclusively cure the disease in cats", then they present the data from the study. Or they might argue "Our new method for extracting coal works very efficiently," and then present their research data proving this argument. Since the authors are arguing the case for something, even with the scientific method behind it, does that make it an argumentative paper?


Writing is typically combined; there is an expository part, then an argumentative part. Expository writing can exist by itself, in encyclopedic or historical reference works (like, "here are the properties of carbon", or "this is what happened at the battle of York").

However, arguments make little sense if they are not based on something observed or known to be true. So basically all argumentative writing will include some exposition to remind the reader of some facts (which may be cherry-picked to support their flawed logic!).

Basically they present the premises, or axioms (things we believe to be true without needing to be proved), and then use them to craft an argument proving something else, which does need to be proved in order to be accepted.

So if I wish to argue for the efficiency of my coal extraction method, I have to have some exposition detailing the current state of the art and its efficiency before I have some exposition detailing MY method and then in argument I can compare the two, and conclude my method works "very efficiently" (compared to existing methods).

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