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In an academic paper, I have written "There are three main arguments for why X is not Z."

I have then discussed them like this:

"First, ....​ (of medium length)
The second argument is that ... (a bit long)
The third and most important argument is that ... (longer)"​ **

** I did not simply use "First,... Second,... Third..." because there is some distance between the arguments. For example, the second argument is two pages long. I think writing "The third and most important argument ..." reminds the reader what these arguments are for.


​ Now I have realized that I have to make one more argument. And I want to start with "A fourth argument is that ..." after the third one.

Is it a problem that I stated in the beginning that I will give "three main arguments", but I give four? I don't want to say "four main arguments".

The three main arguments are widely discussed by experts in the field. The fourth argument is something that has only been pointed out (in two lines) by one author. The Thing is, my supervisor likes this fourth argument and thinks I should include it in my paper. That is why I want to mention it. I don't want to say that it is trivial because it can become important sometime in the future - just that it is not a main argument (or widely discussed) for why X is not Z.

What is the best way to introduce the fourth argument after the third while maintaining that the first three are the main arguments?

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    "In addition to these three main reasons, there are cases where..." – Jon Custer Apr 23 at 15:32
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    Don't do it like this :-). – joriki Apr 23 at 18:09
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    If you've got 3 stuck in your head but need 4, think out of the box: Just say "There are four main reasons:". You are finding yourself constrained by what you had previously written. You need to break out of this and consider everything you wrote before as mutable. – Wolfgang Bangerth Apr 23 at 21:47
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    @joriki. I had a feeling what I would see when I clicked that – Scott Seidman Apr 23 at 22:42
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    @ScottSeidman Are you saying you expected it? – chrylis -cautiouslyoptimistic- Apr 24 at 7:47
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I did not simply use "First,... Second,... Third..." because there is some distance between the arguments.

I suggest that you open with:

There are three main arguments for why X is not Z: A, B, and C.

Then, rather than First, ....​ (of medium length) The second argument is that ... (a bit long) The third and most important argument is that ... (longer), you can use A, B, and C as section/subsection/paragraph headers.

Now I have realized that I have to make one more argument. And I want to start with "A fourth argument is that ..." after the third one. Is it a problem that I stated in the beginning that I will give "three main arguments" but I give four? I don't want to say "four main arguments".

That's a problem, just write There are four main arguments for why X is not Z: A, B, C, and D. and use D as a heading.

The three main arguments are widely discussed by experts in the field. The fourth argument is something that has only been pointed out (in two lines) by one author.

You could revise the opening as:

The literature agrees upon three arguments for why X is not Z: A, B, and C [1,2,3,4,5].

And follow that with:

A fourth argument has also been identified: D [6].

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    To learn how to keep piling on arguments, take a page out from why "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition." (Google it) – Captain Emacs Apr 23 at 10:15
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    Yes, I'd have a section "Why X is not Z" with an introduction along the lines of "there are 3 main arguments...A, B, and C. A fourth (D) is also discussed." then subsections for each arguments. Paragraphs would work if they were shorter, but id they run to multiple pages it';s worth using (sub-)subsections so they appear in the contents. That also means it's worth listing/introducing them. I don't use paragraph headings but instead structure the paragraph to start with the key phrase in italics – Chris H Apr 24 at 8:10
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Introduce all four reasons in the introduction and use them as a structuring device for your presentation. You may set the fourth reason apart, if you want to highlight it as different from the first three, like so:

Conventional wisdom holds that in order to effectively flab widgets, one needs to consider three factors: First, ... Second, ... Third, .... However, as detailed in section X of this contribution, a fourth factor is no less important: namely, the effectiveness of the flabbing process depends largely on the type of widget concerned.

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"There are four arguments for why X is not Z."

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    You could expand this answer by elaborating on why you suggest this. – 6005 Apr 24 at 1:50

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