"They Say, I Say": The Art of Engaging in Academic Conversations

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 554 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Sep 5, 2023

Words: 554|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Sep 5, 2023

Table of contents

  1. The Template of Conversations
  2. Engaging with the Discourse
  3. Persuasive Positioning
  4. Conclusion

Academic writing is not just about presenting information; it's about entering into a dynamic conversation with other scholars and thinkers. Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein's book, "They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing," introduces a framework that empowers writers to effectively engage with existing arguments and ideas. This essay delves into the core concepts of "They Say, I Say," exploring how the book teaches writers to enter into meaningful dialogues, present their own ideas persuasively, and contribute to the academic discourse.

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The Template of Conversations

The central premise of "They Say, I Say" is the template-based approach that guides writers in structuring their arguments within an ongoing conversation. By acknowledging what others have said ("They Say") and positioning their own claims in response ("I Say"), writers establish a clear and logical flow of ideas. This structure enables readers to follow the progression of thought, facilitating comprehension and engagement.

Such a template not only enhances the coherence of the writing but also demonstrates intellectual humility by recognizing the existing scholarship. It showcases that ideas are built upon a foundation of previous discussions and research, and it positions the writer as a participant in the ongoing scholarly conversation.

Engaging with the Discourse

"They Say, I Say" emphasizes the importance of engaging directly with existing arguments, allowing writers to establish credibility and demonstrate their grasp of the subject matter. By summarizing the main points of others' arguments, writers show that they have done their homework and are well-informed about the discourse. This practice sets the stage for a thoughtful and informed response that contributes to the conversation.

This engagement isn't limited to agreement; it can involve critique, expansion, or reevaluation of existing ideas. Through the "And Yet" move, writers can present a nuanced position that acknowledges the validity of an argument while offering a different perspective. This approach fosters a rich dialogue where ideas are refined and enriched through rigorous engagement.

Persuasive Positioning

Effectively expressing one's own perspective is crucial in academic writing, and "They Say, I Say" provides tools for writers to do so persuasively. The "I Say" component of the template allows writers to confidently present their claims, while the provided templates offer various ways to introduce and support their own ideas.

Furthermore, "They Say, I Say" introduces the concept of the "So What? Who Cares?" move, urging writers to consider the broader implications of their claims. This move encourages writers to demonstrate the significance of their ideas in the larger context and to show how their contribution adds value to the ongoing discourse.


"They Say, I Say" is more than just a writing guide; it's a toolkit for participating in the intricate dance of academic conversations. The templates and strategies it provides empower writers to engage meaningfully with existing ideas, craft persuasive arguments, and contribute to the intellectual landscape. By adopting this approach, writers not only refine their writing skills but also develop their critical thinking and their ability to navigate the complex terrain of scholarly discourse.

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As aspiring scholars, students, and thinkers, embracing the principles of "They Say, I Say" allows us to step into the academic arena with confidence, knowing that our words are not just solitary drops but part of a larger ocean of ideas. By mastering the art of academic conversation, we enrich our understanding, elevate our arguments, and join the ongoing exchange that drives intellectual progress.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

“They Say, I Say”: The Art of Engaging in Academic Conversations. (2023, September 05). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 11, 2023, from
““They Say, I Say”: The Art of Engaging in Academic Conversations.” GradesFixer, 05 Sept. 2023,
“They Say, I Say”: The Art of Engaging in Academic Conversations. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 11 Dec. 2023].
“They Say, I Say”: The Art of Engaging in Academic Conversations [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Sept 05 [cited 2023 Dec 11]. Available from:
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