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“The need for more efficient absorbers is particularly acute on the microscale, where they can play a significant role in preventing crosstalk between optical interconnects, and also as thermal light-emitting sources” (Teperik, T.V. et al.).

To which you reply:

“So what? I’m not motivated by those needs, so I’m still not convinced that this is important.”

Having failed to find the answer that will satisfy the reader, the writer must try again to present the problem statement in a way that persuades the reader of the urgency of his argument. Remember, this involves establishing the status quo, unsettling it with a destabilizing condition, and proposing an answer or solution. Imagine that the writer responds by adding:

“Several efforts have been made in this context to achieve near-total but directionally dependent absorption using periodic grating … However, the ability to absorb light completely for any incident direction of light remains a challenge” (Teperik, T.V. et al.).

To which you reply:

“So what?”

And so on, ad infinitum…

Unless the writer can establish a set of stakes—an accounting of the costs and benefits—that can satisfy the reader of the importance of his problem.

“Here we show that total omnidirectional absorption of light can be achieved in nanostructured metal surfaces that sustain localized optical excitations. . . . We suggest that surfaces displaying omnidirectional absorption will play a key role in devising efficient photovoltaic cells in which the absorbed light leads to electron–hole pair production” (Teperik, T.V. et al.).

If I am passionately involved in “devising efficient photovoltaic cells in which the absorbed light leads to electron-hole pair production,” then this formulation of the problem has finally convinced me to read further. All of this goes to show that a problem statement cannot be considered finished until the author has established costs and benefits appropriate to the reading audience. We have given a convincing answer to the question, “So what?” when we identify the kinds of consequences that will matter to our readers and illustrate how the potential costs (or benefits) render the status quo unacceptable.

Iv. costs and benefits as consequences

We evaluate the potential costs and benefits of our choices and actions every day. As we saw in the previous example, for an argument to sway audiences, readers need to recognize their own priorities and concerns in the costs, consequences, or benefits you present to them. Readers recognize as persuasive consequences those effects that would cause them either to benefit or to suffer in some way.

V. what is the solution?

The solution is your response to the problem introduced by your claim. It can be a resolution or a proposed resolution of the issues introduced by the problem statement. Especially in business, professional, and technical situations, if you have stated the consequences in terms of costs, the solution should present the benefits of your proposed course of action. You need to answer the question, “How does this solution eliminate the perceived problem?”


  • What does your audience need to know to appreciate the solution you propose?
  • What makes it easy or difficult to accept?

Remember: LRS helps you to know what readers need by teaching you to question your own argument!

Applications for introductions, issues, and audience

As we have seen, good problem statements perform not one but several functions for your argument. They provide background or context for your discussion, they

supply necessary old information and prepare readers for new revelations, they produce audience agreement or “buy-in,” and they establish criteria upon which audience will be asked to accept proposed solutions.

Problem statements and revision

Even though arguments begin with Problem Statements, we don’t always start with a clear idea of how to express the problem. Problem statements themselves benefit from a process of revision. The step-wise development of the problem statement modeled in this discussion is designed to help you take your topic and gradually refine what you want to argue.

Problem statements and introductions

The five parts of the problem statement also supply many of the requirements of a good introduction, mapping out the issues and solutions that will later guide the choice of evidence and the course of discussion. For example, what serves as the Status Quo in a Problem Statement later resonates with the Common Ground you will present for your argument— the information orienting your audience to the context of your claim.


Fundamental to any problem statement is an awareness of what the audience needs to know to follow along with your argument. As you build effective, convincing problem statements out of your topics, you are asking yourself the same questions that your reader will need answered. Who or what? Why? So What? These elements will later guide your choice of evidence, not to mention your reasons and warrants for what you are arguing.

Good problem statements motivate good arguments

  • By establishing common ground,
  • By placing issues in context,
  • By conditioning audience response,
  • By establishing specific criteria for agreement, and
  • By making the costs and consequences of your argument clear.

Examples taken or adapted from:

  • Mertens, J., et al. “Label-free Detection of DNA Hybridization based on Hydration Induced Tension in Nucleic Acid Films.” Nature Nanotechnology 3 (2008): 301- 307. Web of Science. University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. 6 May 2008 (External Link)
  • Teperik, T.V., et al. “Omnidirectional Absorption in Nanostructured Metal Surfaces.”Nature Photonics 2 (2008): 299 - 301. Web of Science. University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. 6 May 2008 (External Link)
  • Williams, J. (2005). Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace. (8th ed.). New York: Pearson.
  • Williams, J., Colomb, G. (2003). The Craft of Argument. (Concise ed.). New York: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.

Questions & Answers

where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Three modules on clear writing style: an introduction to the craft of argument, by joseph m. williams and gregory colomb. OpenStax CNX. Jul 17, 2008 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10551/1.1
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