A comment along the lines of “contradictory” may refer to four areas within your paper:

  1. a contradiction involving your thesis and the support you use for analysis;
  2. a contradiction involving the credibility of the support in relation to other sources used;
  3. a contradiction involving your thesis and the author’s position; and/or
  4. a contradiction within the conclusion.

Understanding (1) and (2)

For (1) and (2), receiving such a comment depends upon how well or how poorly you have organized your information. You have learned to create an outline before assuming the task of writing. If you do not know who says or who has said what, in terms of your thesis and the support you use, you may easily develop a thesis that lacks strong foundation. For an argument, if you develop the thesis “All dogs are nice,” but support the thesis with a fact from The Humane Society such as “All dogs 100% of the time bark at strangers,” then you contradict your thesis.

Think about how you wash your clothes; you always separate the whites from the colors.  Now think about how you fold your clothes after drying. You place socks that match together.  This same ideology applies to your thesis and the support you use for the thesis. All of your likes, your matches, must go into one pile; and all of the ones that are different from the likes must go into a separate pile. This way you can identify what is what and what is not.

Understanding (3)

For (3), you must develop a thesis that correlates to the author’s claim and the requirement of the exam question (as expected from your professor on a final paper). Your thesis and the author’s claim should be on the same level. Even if you are negating his claim as a way to develop your thesis, you can’t develop a thesis that is so far beyond what the author claims. In other words, if the author claims that “All dogs are nice,” you can either agree or you can disagree by claiming that all dogs are not nice. In doing this, you are still on the same level as the author. However, you can’t argue that “All dogs are kind to only people they know.” What does this thesis have anything to do with what the author claims? Examine the thesis carefully and separate what the author believes and what he doesn’t believe. Don’t apply implications that are not truly implied in the immediate text.

Understanding (4)

Lastly, a contradiction within the conclusion suggests that you have deviated from your objective.  Remember your thesis. Remember what you want to prove. Before attempting to write a conclusion, go back and reread the introduction and the body paragraphs and ask yourself this question: Do I believe or have faith in anything I have just written? If you do, then you have a conclusion. If you don’t, then before you can even begin to write a conclusion, you must return to the starting point and change your thesis, change the support, and then write the conclusion. Otherwise, you will receive a comment of “contradictory” either in sections of your paper or the comment will reflect the whole paper.

See also the comments “This Doesn’t Occur/Contradiction” and “There is No Indication of This.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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