Essay Writing

What is an academic Essay
An essay is an extended piece of writing that presents and supports a thesis or proposition. The word "essay" derives from the Latin word "exagium", meaning the presentation of a case. When you write an essay you are making a case for the validity of a particular point of view, analysis, interpretation, or set of facts or procedures.

What an academic essay is not.
An academic essay is not a regurgitation of facts. Of course, the facts have to be in the essay and they have to be correct, but the facts are only the first step in essay-writing. If, in giving the facts, you want to quote from a textbook, use the quote only to support or to illustrate the point you're making. It should be a supplement to your words and ideas, not a substitute of them.

Why do we write essays?
y They allow your lecturers and tutors to evaluate your learning. (This is why it's important to use your own words and ideas. If your essay is full of long quotes from textbooks, your reader cannot tell whether or not you have understood and retained what you have read.) They give you a focus for exploring and consolidating what you are learning. They allow you to practise skills that you will be using in a future career: e.g. collecting, analysing, and organising data; writing clearly, concisely, and logically; evaluating and explaining complex material to others.

y y

Recommended procedure for essay writing
The Little Blue Writing Book by J.Dawson (The Learning Centre Publishing, 2007) is a comprehensive guide to writing effective essays. It is available at the Curtin Bookshop, The Learning Centre, and in the reserve area of the Library.. This short extract from the introduction of the book suggests how you might tackle an essay assignment. In contrast to the reader¶s experience of the essay as a journey, beginning with the first sentence and finishing with the last, the writer experiences the essay as a construction. This construction is built around a carefully thought out framework and involves many tasks - from analysing the brief (the essay question) and gathering the materials (through reading and research) through to the final presentation of a factually correct, logically coherent, well-organised, convincingly argued, and clearly expressed essay. A seven-step plan is suggested here. Following each of these steps, and giving enough attention to each of them, will guarantee a well-constructed µreader-friendly¶ essay. SEVEN-STEP PLAN 1. Analyse the brief (essay question). 2. Formulate a provisional thesis statement. 3. Gather data (read, make notes). 4. Organise data and ideas and reformulate thesis statement. 5. Write middle paragraphs. 6. Write introduction and conclusion. 7. Edit and proof-read.

As you are expected to draw on other people's work. their. It is best to avoid overuse of direct quotations and instead paraphrase an idea in your own words (remembering to reference the source!). words. If you make any changes. In academic writing it should be formal but "readerfriendly". Additionally. your lecturer may refer you to a guidebook or a particular journal that uses the system they prefer. you are also expected to recognise and acknowledge their help by referencing your sources of information. Familiarise yourself with your School's referencing requirements and the policy on plagiarism. there are times when it may be better to use the exact words from a source.) Are all facts correct. Reading published journal articles in your discipline can help you to get a feel for what constitutes an appropriate tone. Referencing A basic characteristic of any science is that it builds on existing knowledge. such as 'moreover'. . and arguable? (The thesis statement is the 'handle' upon which you hang your essay. and unambiguous? (Make sure you have understood your research material and that you have transcribed details correctly. use appropriate referencing. 5. to guide the reader through your essay. 6. include it in square brackets [ ]. Make sure you have addressed all aspects of the assignment question. For example.) Are my paragraphs internally integrated? (Each paragraph should be integrated around one point. Offenders may lose marks on their work or in some cases be given a fa il grade for the unit. make sure it functions effectively. 'nevertheless'. Quoting Direct quoting means copying down material from a source and reproducing it word for word in your assignment. It's the academic equivalent of fraud and is treated very seriously by the University. Make your essay 'reader friendly'.) 2.g. To assist this purpose. they. Use 'transition markers'. Sexist language can be avoided by using a reference to both sexes. Quotations that are four or more lines should be included as a separate paragraph from the main text. and phrases in the introduction. Short quotations should be included within the text of your assignment and enclosed by quotation marks. depending on the discipline. and logically developed? (Avoid logical fallacies and ambiguous expression. concise. 7. You could also try reading your writing out loud.) Is my explication clear. race. and carry these through your essay. it must be exactly the same as the original. Information about how to reference is often given in your course materials. but also keeping in mind that your writing should not be colloquial or personal. and provide a full bibliography.).) Have I correctly acknowledged all formal and informal sources correctly? (Introduce quotations gracefully. If you are going to make a direct quote. if it expresses the idea more eloquently than your own summary or when it is important for the reader to inspect the precise way the thought was expressed by the author.) Is my thesis statement clear. or add explanatory material of your own. ethnicity.. or by using the plural form when possible e. Have I fulfilled the requirements of the assignment? (Check assignment brief for key words like 'outline'. current. indented and single spaced. 'compare'.. you may leave yourself open to the charge of plagiarism passing off other people's ideas as your own. expressed in the topic sentence. 3. there are referencing systems that must be followed. Essay Checklist 1. Plagiarism If you do not carefully reference your work. Aim to produce a paper that could be understood immediately by a fellow student in your course.Academic writing practices Non-discriminatory language Curtin University is committed to eliminating discrimination and therefore insists on the use of non discriminatory language. How to Reference In your referencing you should include enough information about each book or article to allow your reader to find it and follow up any point. However. easy to follow. disability and age is also the convention in academic writing. 4. There are a few different systems that are commonly used. 'evaluate'. If you decide to leave out any part of the original use an ellipsis (. 'on the other hand'. Non-discriminatory language regarding sex.) Are my paragraphs logically linked? (Establish key concepts. Find out which one is required by the School that has set your written assignment. Tone Tone is the "speaking voice" of a piece of writing.

some Schools stamp the assignment cover page to identify when it was handed in. authoritative. First paragraphs should not make points of explication. Read any feedback you are given carefully. Make sure that you keep a copy of the completed assignment when you hand it in to the marker.) Is my writing clear and unambiguous? (Check sentence structure.8. the date of submission. student ID number. use colons to introduce quotations. If you would like more feedback than the marker has provided. go and see them about it. choice of words. Cover sheets may have tear off sections for the recipient to sign as evidence that you have handed in your assignment. this will assist you to improve your writing. This will let the marker know that you are keen to get feedback and improve your writing. as well as assist you to understand what they expect for your next assignment. Each School has their own rules regarding late assignments.) Your Responsibilities 1. Assignments are generally handed in to the marker or at the School Office.) Is the tone of my essay rational. Does my introduction adequately introduce my thesis? (The first paragraph should lead up to the thesis statement by gently easing the reader into the topic. separation of subject from verb. This helps you to recognise any awkwardness of language or lapse in tone. run-ons. 4. Never introduce a new topic in the last paragraph. or you don't understand their comments or why they have given you the mark they did. and jargon. pronouns and antecedent nouns agree and that modifiers are correctly related. discuss this with the marker before the day it is due. This provides a "back-up" just in case your assignment is misplaced before it is marked.) Does my conclusion effectively round off my essay? (Final paragraphs should restate the thesis and sum up and/or contextualises the essay.) Is my writing concise? (Cut out all unnecessary words and phrases. You may be able to arrange an alternative submission date without loss of marks.) Is my grammar correct? (Check in particular that subjects and verbs. It would be terrible to have to repeat the assignment from scratch or alternatively getting a fail grade when you have completed the required work. 11. . If it appears you will not be able to hand in your assignment on the due date. Avoid cliches. 12. Use semi-colons to join control clauses. 10. Check apostrophes. definitions. 3. 15. 2. available at the School Office or you may need to make your own. Ideally you should ensure that your assignment is submitted on time and reaches the person responsible for receiving it. the title of the assignment and the name of your tutor/demonstrator. 13.) Have I proof-read and run a spelling check over my essay? (Make sure the essay you hand in is as correct and professionally presented as you can make it. Most Schools require cover pages to be attached to the front of your assignment. formal yet 'reader -friendly' and fluent? (Read your essay out loud. and word order. 5. On the cover page you will be required to give at least your name. Alternatively. These may be photocopied from your course materials. 9. 14. Keep this just in case your assignment does get misplaced. vogue words. and complicated lists.) Have I punctuated correctly? (Check in particular for comma splices.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful