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What is an essay?

An essay is a collection of your own ideas about a particular topic. It must have a clear, organised structure which presents your ideas in such a way that the reader can understand them, follow them, and is convinced by your arguments, or at least can see your point of view because of the evidence you have presented. An essay is not a collection of snippets from the source material you have read. Instead, it is a presentation of your own thoughts and ideas on a subject, which uses the source material to support your arguments. Source material may include books, journal articles, reports, etc that you have read.

Where Do I Start?
Start by reading the question. It may sound rather too obvious to mention but year after year, students just look at a word or phrase in the essay title and take this as a cue to reel off everything they know about that subject, without considering whether they are really answering what has been asked of them. You need to analyse the question and remember that certain focus words are clues as to what the tutor is asking of you. For example, 'discuss' means to present two sides of an argument and any implications. If in doubt, look the words up in the dictionary!

How Do I Research My Essay?
To research a topic and find suitable source material, you need to plan a search strategy. This ensures that you know exactly what you are looking for! To plan your research, you need to decide on:
  

The focus of the essay question - what is the main topic? The key concepts - write down words related to the topic Alternative terms - write down other words that mean the same thing as the key concepts Your understanding of the issues - write down things you think will be important to answer the question Your sources - where will you find material?

These ideas will help you search through research databases, such as Emerald Insight, EBSCO and Ingenta. Your university will usually give you an athens password so you can access these databases. They contain thousands of journals in all manner of subject areas.

Ask yourself:  Will this source add value to my essay (for example. If you're desperate for sources and have neither athens nor the funds to pay for questia.Recommended Sources The best places to find good journals to support your essays.http://www.1 If you don't have an athens password (or even if you do but want to expand your research collection) Questia. or $ Jstor .http://www.95 for life. by supporting one of my arguments)? Is this source essential for my essay? Will the quality of the essay suffer if I remove it? Do I have any better sources to support my arguments? Is the source a quality source? Is it reliable? Avoid using open-source encyclopedias like Wikipedia . if you have an athens password. It has literally thousands of books. this represents incredible value. we would recommend for an Undergraduate Degree Level Essay of 2.95/Quarterly. 18 sources for .you don't know how reliable the information is.emeraldinsight. are (look for the 'Athens Login' links):     EBSCO . or $19.95/Year.    Are you wondering how many sources/references you need to use in your essay? It is important to ensure you have sufficient sources to support your writing if you are aiming for a good grade.http://www.jstor. The cost is currently $399.http://search. you'll find you have far too much material to put in your essay and so you'll have to filter through it and choose the best. 9 quality sources for essays of 0-2500 words. Google Books may also be useful. Filtering Material More often than not. $44.95/Monthly (correct at 1st August 2008) Emerald Insight .com is a great Ingenta . With the exchange rates as they are. and these can be accessed via monthly or annual subscription. As a very rough guide. journals and newspaper/magazine articles.

but it will also show you have excellent study skills. If you refer to the work of more obscure and controversial writers.essays of 2.. which reached this conclusion'. you need to demonstrate an exceptional level of clarity... Using a good selection of quality sources adds strength to your arguments and the quality of your paper. through your ability to select and interpret quality materials and authority to support your arguments. Strong well supported arguments against an established point of view are also a means of showing originality and thus gaining extra marks. What To Aim For Before you start writing your essay. To attain a 1st. it is difficult to impress without showing an element of originality. However you present your material. 'Smith says. and use a proper style of referencing. 30 or even 40 papers answering exactly the same question. You must also show special signs of excellence or originality. it is helpful to keep in mind the qualities that your final piece of work should have... As perfect as your essay may be. you need to present your own thoughts ..'. Not only will your essay show that you have a comprehensive knowledge of the topic and an excellent understanding of the issues and debates concerned. '. Instead. and this is supported by Jones' 1987 Study.501-10. Planning Your Essay Structure .. because.000 words. 'It appears that . provided that such material is well presented and used appropriately. however. Or. It should be fluent and articulate (try reading it out loud as you go. 'Jones reached the conclusion that .. 27 sources for essays of 5. Your presentation should be impeccable and your arguments should be supported so the reader is left in no doubt as to the accuracy of the information. you must remember that it should not simply recount the authors' points of view in a parrot like fashion.001-7. it could instead be argued that . such as..' 'But Jones says.000 words and at least 45 sources for essays of over 10.501-5000 words... you might write. Your writing should be structured logically so that arguments are developed in a convincing way. Sources That Impress Remember that your tutor could be marking 20. to ensure it makes sense)..500 words. 36 sources for essays of 7.for example. you may well spark the interest of the lecturer..

and reach conclusions about evidence Second (supporting) paragraph: Are there any weaknesses in the first evidence presented? Provide further evidence.  First (supporting) paragraph: Provide facts and evidence. It may include:  An introductory paragraph . Remember at all times that you are making an argument. and try and disprove your own opinion.give background information Second paragraph .that's a sharp.restate your opinion.but you'll need to expand this and include details of what you intend to cover in each section (which will be subject specific): Introduction The introduction is the place to grip your reader. intelligent statement relating to the topic First paragraph . Whilst this is the very basic structure of an essay. present evidence to support it. explain you will present evidence to support it in the essay     Body This is where you prove your case. evaluate evidence. Don't forget that you can never make unsubstantiated claims . Further. evaluate and reach conclusions Third (opposing) paragraph: Present the opposing view. You may want to start with an 'attention getter' . a more detailed plan will help you write well.this may introduce a controversial issue.Many students think an essay structure means 'introduction' 'body' and 'conclusion'. you cannot present an essay that consists of merely one argument. Identify any weaknesses in the evidence Fourth (opposing) paragraph: Deal with any weaknesses identified by presenting further evidence    . sufficiently impress them and make them want to know more. A good essay structure for your assignment is below .or it will be irrelevant.everything you say needs to be supported by quality source material. Make sure that every paragraph in some way refers to those keywords . not narrating a story.a focus sentence . Use the key words you identified in your search strategy to help you.give your opinion Third paragraph .acknowledge the opposing opinion(s) Final paragraph .

Read it out loud to make sure it flows well. you will find it takes an enormous amount of your time just finding relevant sources. Conclusion The conclusion is where you summarise the main findings of your research.reread and reread it again. Reaffirm your opinion. a comprehensive list of sources you can use in your essay. Conducting research for your essay is time consuming and if you have little experience in this may lose marks as it will make it seem that you don't understand what you are talking about. Has it been supported in your essay? Does your essay reveal any weaknesses in the opinion? Is the opposing evidence convincing? The reader should be convinced of your conclusion but this is not the place to include new material. Remember.marks. or you will not gain any marks for the material utilised.. Draw together the components of your arguments and make sure you spell out how any weaknesses have been dealt with.just because so-and-so said something does not make it true. It should only draw on what you have already said. Go through what you have written and ensure that every paragraph is 100% relevant and necessary to answering the question.Avoid lengthy direct quotes such as 'Smith says. Without a conclusion. Essay writing is a skill that takes years to perfect. Research is. Final Checks When you've finished writing your essay. You can quote from material but you need to analyse it .if any . Ask someone else to read it and give you their opinion (our assignment marking service is ideal for this). in itself. and . you will score few .. Don't leave in waffle or padding . of course. This essay structure will not. It gives you a starting point for your own research. Check the spelling and grammar using your PC. you are unlikely to score impressive marks. Ordering a model answer is a great solution to this. fit every assignment essay project but it gives you an idea of how you can plan your essay in advance for a good result.' 'but Jones says' with no further analysis. you may have the best material in the world. If you are going to use a quote you need to support it with relevant facts or examples. before you have written a single word. but if you can't communicate your ideas to the reader. an entirely different skill and also an art. make sure you read .

the confidence you need to know you've included everything you need to achieve a great result. .