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How to write an Academic Essay

Lecture 3 in the Academic Skills series

Chris Haycock

on 7 October 2015

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Transcript of How to write an Academic Essay

Academic Skills 3
How to write an academic essay
Access to large data-sets of personal information is a prerequisite for social control. 5 Those who hold such data have a crucial tool that allows them to influence the behaviour of those whose data is being held. Marketing is an obvious example. The more a seller knows about its prospective customers, the better their needs can be targeted or manufactured.
Marketing involves subtle forms of manipulation: creating desires at the right moment, in
precisely the right way, so that they can be satisfied by merchants. Similarly, governments
want to collect data about their citizens in order to increase the accuracy of their planning,
as well as combat fraud and tax evasion. Of course, don't forget the ballooning security
establishment, which wants infinite amounts of information about everyone to combat an
ever-growing list of enemies.
The cumulative effect of the culling all this information is that "they" know more than ever about "us," while we still know very little about them, including who they are and what they know about us. An increasing number of institutio ns have the ability to manipulate us, influence our behaviour, and subject us to specialized treatment in a wide range of situations (with various degrees of success, control is never absolute and the claims of the capacities of surveillance technology are often inflated by vendors promoting their products). For instance, when you call your bank and have to wait in line for 25 minutes, you cannot know why. Perhaps it is because you are not a preferred customer, whose call would have been answered immediately, but perhaps it’s simply because the system is overloaded. The problem is, you don’t know whether this kind of discrimination is taking place, and have no way of fighting against it.
Your essay needs to have depth and meaning. It should not just regurgitate the information we have given you in class.
Develop these thoughts and ideas through critical analysis of the information you
find during your
There are no
short cuts. If you are to do well in this degree course you must be able to write essays. To write a good essay you must have an opinion, to have an opinion you must read around the subject, and engage in class.
There is no substitute for reading. You have to understand the subject before you can comment on it.
Once you have identified the material that will inform your opinion (either in favour or against it) record it and it's reference. The next step is to be critical of the material.
Being critical is the most difficult thing to explain but the easiest thing to do.
You simply ask probing questions. What does this mean? Why was it done like that? Who are the researchers? What does all of this mean to the study?
Never take anything at face value. This requires a lot of practice. Ask questions even if you think you know the answers.
So your objective is to use the lectures to indicate which areas of the subject we are interested in, analyse the question to decide what your own perspective on this subject is, read around the subject to see where and how your perspective fits with the accepted view, use academic materials and logical argument to bridge any gaps between your perspective and pre-existing theories, be critical of your material to explain why your perspective is different, reach a sound and defensible conclusion. Remember to support your statements with academic material as references.
So what are left with is an eloquent fluent, plausible, defensible, informed perspective on the essay question. The more credible , creative and original your answer is the better your mark will be... but stick to the marking criteria.
The essay question must be deconstructed and analysed. Understand the question and how you wish to tackle it and you will be better able to address the question.
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