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Writing an academic essay

General information and tips on writing a good academic (argumentative) essay.

Emily Ryall

on 5 October 2015

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Transcript of Writing an academic essay

How to write an academic essay
Start with the question
What are you being asked to do?
Then focus your research
It may be that you end up only
putting a minority of your
research in your essay
But that doesn't mean it's wasted
Writing a good essay is the culmination of a process
Plan your structure
Know what you're going to say (argue)
and how you're going to say (argue) it.
Mindmaps / diagrams
are useful here
Signposting is important
in essays
It is NOT a murder mystery...
You shouldn't have to wait to the end
to find out 'who dunnit'.
Lead your reader by the hand...
Say what you're going to say.
Say it.
Say what you've said.
Be clear
Address the question at the outset
E.g. "In this paper, I will argue that...
The reasons I will give to support this claim are..."
E.g. "This essay will outline the key theories associated with [x] in order to answer [question y].
It will consider the arguments of [a,b,c],
and provide recommendations of [d,e,f].
1. Can I use the word 'I'?
2. Can I give my personal opinion?
Two questions often raised by students:
1. Yes.
However... Do NOT write,
"I think that..." or "My opinion is..."
2. The whole essay is YOUR argument
- take ownership of it.
Therefore you do not need to
explicitly state your opinion.
It IS acceptable to use the first person if
you are setting out or summarising
your argument,
E.g. "I will demonstrate...", "I have shown..."
If you do this well, your overall structure will be clear to your reader.
Make sure each paragraph
leads on from the last.
Refer back to your argument
throughout your essay.
E.g. "As I have already outlined..."
First impressions count.
Clear and tidy presentation
and formatting.
By the end of the first page,
the marker will already have
a broad grade in their head.
This will go up or down
depending on what comes next.
We want you to do well!
Don't just regurgitate information
The first thing we ask is:
'Has the student answered the question?'
If the answer is no, then no matter how good
the essay is, it won't get a good mark.
Keeping rereading and redrafting
Dr Emily Ryall
University of Gloucestershire
So, you can use the first person if you
are referring to the structure of your
essay (usually in the introduction and
conclusion). It equates to 'signposting'
Be selective
Full transcript