Signals for Warrants

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courtesy of flickr.com

When incorporating the core readings into your work, you must introduce the author.  You do this by using signal phrasesSignal phrases are ways to introduce your reader to the ideas of others in a clear way. The way they look varies given particular style guides (APA, MLA, etc.), though they serve the same purpose. They are also necessary in academic writing.

Here are some examples with the signaling verb in bold.

*As economist Thomas Puddledunk suggests, “The working class will always create a cyclical and systematic rise and fall of equitable resources” (15).
*World renowned Slamball sports columnist Jack Freely states, “In any game, both teams want to win. What matters is who does” (2).
* Psuedopsychologist Robert Colbert claims, “Access to the mind only begins with the acknowledgment of the self while the self is aligned with the stars” (43).
*As postmodern philosopher Michel Mandermeer argues, “A prelapsarian reading of David Mamet’s About Last Night… both denies a Derridean ontology and negates a necessary epistemological contradiction of the body” (71).

Of course, there are many verbs you can use in phrases. The choice, though, is not arbitrary: use the verb you find best fits with how the author discusses the relevant idea.

When using signal phrases, also understand that you must cite all of the information coming from the source, paraphrased or not. This looks different given the style you use. For instance, APA privileges the year of publication as well as where as where the information comes from in the text, but is in past tense and typically does not include many direct quotations.

APA Example: Economist Thomas Puddledunk (2015) suggested that “the working class will always create a cyclical and systematic rise and fall of equitable resources” (p. 3).

No matter what, you need to include the page number (or the closest approximation, if there are no page numbers) for where you retrieved the information.

No Page Number Example: World renowned Slamball sports columnist Jack Freely (2015) stated, “In any game, both teams want to win. What matters is who does” (para 4).

Here you would have to count the paragraphs to see where the quotation came from. This way, your reader understands exactly where to look for this information if he/she wanted to check the original source.

The idea is to get as much mileage out of your sources as possible. The major points you use from the sources will act as warrants—not evidence—for your work.  It’s not incredibly important that you use the language of “warrant” so much as it is important that you understand how the sources are used.  You’re not relying on them for facts, but resting on the author’s work to bolster your own.  They act as principles to establish your own work–you don’t need to prove they’re true.  (Another way of putting this is that they act as conditionals for your assertions: something like, “If Shirky is right, then it seems that…”).

Here is a breakdown of using the core readings: taking the direct passage from a source, paraphrasing the passage (i.e. putting it into your own words), using a signal phrase with the paraphrased passage, and then finally incorporating this into a body paragraph of a paper. (Note: the final segment is an outline of each element working in the argumentative paragraph structure.)

  1. Direct Quotation from Shirky:

“In a world where a dozen editors, all belonging to the same professional class, can decide whether to run or kill a national story, information that might be of interest to the general public may not be published not because of a conspiracy but because the editors have a professional bias that is not aligned by the similar challenges they face and by the similar tools they use to approach those challenges. The mass amateurization of publishing undoes the limitations inherent in having a small number of traditional press outlets” (65).

  1. This Paraphrased by me:

The Internet allows us to both readily and easily seek out news we understand is not necessarily vetted and controlled by institutions.

  1. Incorporated with Signal Phrase:
    As Clay Shirky suggests,the Internet allows us to both readily and easily seek out news we understand is not necessarily vetted and controlled by institutions (65).
  1. This used as a Warrant in Critical Analysis:

Major network television news anchors have become archaic resources of information. As Clay Shirky suggests, the Internet allows us to both readily and easily seek out news we understand is not necessarily vetted and controlled by large companies and institutions (65). Shows such as Dateline and Meet the Press, though certainly still viewed by many, do not garner the same amount of attention they did in previous decades. We can now both select the kinds of news we would like to access from an array of like-minded individuals from various online platforms while also receiving such news with swift delivery. Now that we can access reports and data analyses at any given moment in a day, relying on delegated time slots for broadcast journalism is both unnecessary and arbitrary.

  1. This Paragraph Broken Down in Argument Elements

Major network television news anchors have become archaic resources of information.[1] As Clay Shirky suggests, the Internet allows us to both readily and easily seek out news we understand is not necessarily vetted and controlled by large companies and institutions (65).[2] Shows such as Dateline and Meet the Press, though certainly still viewed by many, do not garner the same amount of attention they did in previous decades. We can now both select the kinds of news we would like to access from an array of like-minded individuals from various online platforms while also receiving such news with swift delivery.[3] Now that we can access reports and data analyses at any given moment in a day,[4] relying on delegated time slots for broadcast journalism is both unnecessary and arbitrary.[5]

Here is another example my super brilliant and wonderful UTAs from last semester made using Malcolm Gladwell. A bit of background for their analysis: Caine’s Arcade is a story in which a 9 year-old boy, Caine, set up a makeshift cardboard Arcade. Although overlooked by many, one person took notice to Caine’s Arcade and made a documentary about it, making Caine Internet famous, with around a hundred customers per week, setting up a scholarship fund, and starting a cardboard “diy” empire across the country.)

(The “thesis” we are exploring is do-it-yourself (DIY) culture- how the shift has occurred from interest in mass production to DIY solutions, with an emphasis on communication as can be seen through Caine’s Arcade)

While there are a plethora of creative children across the country, it is rare for them to achieve the same amount of success as Caine for their innovation; the question becomes why this particular young person has become so successful with his DIY empire. Caine’s success hinges on one particular person, documentarian Nirvan Mullick, who served as a catalyst for his popularity. Gladwell explores this phenomenon of a singular person serving as agents for particular movements; and further asserts that “a very small number of people are linked to everyone else in a few steps, and the rest of us are linked to the world through those special few” (37). Mullick is one of these individuals, as he was the person who took Caine’s story to a widely accessible platform. Mullick fits into Gladwell’s classification of a “Connector,” people who have a broad and functioning network with many other individuals in different social spheres (48). Because of Mullick’s desire to share Caine’s work, and his social connections that allowed Caine’s cardboard sentiment to spread; his cardboard masterpieces were the inspiration for the materialization of DIY dreams of thousands of others.

[1] Sub-claim (i.e. topic sentence)

[2] Warrant

[3] Evidence

[4] Warrant

[5] Reasoning

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