Argument for Scientists

Scientists are trained to be neutral, objective, and unbiased. Government scientists are trained to hedge, to qualify, and to guard their statements. However, many documents written by government biologists require them to take a position on behalf of an agency and clearly explain the rationale for that position. This type of writing is commonly called “argumentative” or “persuasive.”

Michelle even went so far as to learn about the specific species and challenges we deal with every day. This impresses me, and I cannot think of another instructor who has done as thorough a job. Nor can I think of one who is as good at implementing the class itself. In plain language, which I am always supposed to use, Michelle knows how to teach her stuff.

The techniques that comprise good science and the techniques that comprise good persuasion seem to be so far at odds that government scientists struggle to find an appropriate tone, resort to passive and bureaucratic forms of communication, and state the position of their agencies in ways that feel obscure, unclear, or even contradictory to their readers.

This class will outline the difference between the argument strategies that are used (oftentimes unethically) in advertisements or popular media and legitimate modes of discourse that are employed in civic discourse. These strategies are the very basis for decision-making and include such concepts as distinguishing between facts and opinions or outlining causal relationships. You’ll learn how to clearly formulate your agency’s position and outline it in ways that are clear and relevant to your audience and your purpose.

This was such a great class. You rock!


  1. Define your audience and purpose, your role as the author, and the context of the documents you write most frequently.
  2. Formulate a thesis statement and the claims required to support it.
  3. Write in a variety of styles including comparisons, descriptions, and causal analyses.
  4. Address uncertainties and counterclaims.
  5. Review grammar & mechanics, including relevant reference works.

For pricing and availability, please contact:

Michelle Baker, the Conservation Writing Pro–teaching, writing, and editing so environmental scientists can communicate more clearly!

L. Michelle Baker, Ph.D.
441 Walina Street, Apt. 804
Honolulu, HI 96815
304 283 4573
Author: Writing in the Environmental Sciences: A Seven-Step Guide