Scientific Argumentation Model (SAM): A Heuristic for Reading Research Articles by Science Students

  • Edwin van Lacum
  • Marcel Koeneman
  • Miriam Ossevoort
  • Martin GoedhartEmail author
Part of the Contributions from Science Education Research book series (CFSE, volume 2)


Research articles are the typical means scientists use for publishing their scientific results. Therefore, it is important that science students acquire genre knowledge about research articles. This will not only help them with reading science texts but will also provide them with knowledge about the way scientists obtain scientific findings. However, studies have shown that students have difficulties with reading original scientific texts. To support students in acquiring this skill, we have developed a model, the Scientific Argumentation Model (SAM), which can be used as a heuristic in secondary or higher education. This model is based on ideas from argumentation theory and genre analysis and consists of descriptions of seven rhetorical moves that play an important role in a research article’s argumentation: motive, objective, support, counterargument, refutation, main conclusion, and implication. The relations between these moves are depicted in an argumentation scheme. In this study, SAM was validated by investigating its use on research articles from astronomy and biomedical science. The average frequencies of motives, main conclusions, implications, and support chains seem somewhat higher in astronomy papers than in biomedical papers. This might be explained by the different natures of these two disciplines.


Primary literature Scientific literacy Science education Genre analysis Argumentation 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edwin van Lacum
    • 1
  • Marcel Koeneman
    • 2
  • Miriam Ossevoort
    • 2
  • Martin Goedhart
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.College of ScienceUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Faculty of Mathematics and Natural SciencesUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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