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Introduction to essay writing

Daren Mansfield

• examine nature of academic writing • cover planning, structure and paragraphs • investigate whether formulas exist to write a successful essay

Academic writing advice
• expand your vocabulary by using a thesaurus • different types of academic writing
– notes, report, project, essay, dissertation / thesis

• avoid assumptions – provide valid evidence from reliable resources (

Nature of academic writing
• formal • impersonal and objective (NOT 'I' or 'we' or 'you‘) • cautious or tentative • reference other writers’ work - avoid plagiarism – use scholarly resources • refer back to the question when you are writing

Formulas exist for essay writing!
formulas available for anyone willing to incorporate them into their personal writing style, such as identifying problems and finding solutions (problem > solution A arguments against solution A > solutions B and C….)

Formulas can be found…
Study skills section in Library – 808 on the 2nd floor Suggested reading:
– Bailey’s Academic Writing for International Students of Business - 808.06665 bai – Levin’s Write great essays! [book]; [ebook] : a guide to reading and essay writing for undergraduates and taught postgraduates - 808 066 lev – Sole’s The academic essay : how to plan, draft, revise, and write essays - 808.066 sol

Where do I start?
• identify the purpose of the assignment • Use Find it at Lincoln to understand topic, and draft a potential structure
– Rely upon – E.g. cross culture teamwork (breakdown themes to leadership, cross cultural communication, globalisation, multiculturalism, etc)

Planning your assignment
Choose… • A list of all the points to make • A chart linking ideas and details • A mind map
– download Inspiration 8?

Structuring your answer
You will need:
1. Introduction 2. Main body 3. Conclusion

Essay suggestion
You have to write an essay entitled ‘State control of industry: does it have any benefits?’ establish…
– definition – background – aim – method – limitation

(Bailey, 2011: pp. 82-3).

• 10% of assignment • Common framework of introductions
– – – – – – – Definition of key terms, if needed Relevant background information Review of work by other writers on the topic Purpose or aim of the paper Your methods and the results you found Any limitations you imposed The organisation of your work

(Bailey, 2011: 80)

Opening sentences
• ‘Newspapers are currently facing strong competition from rival news providers such as the internet and television’ (Bailey, 2011: 82). • deliver substance • provide interest / utilize journalistic hooks?

Structuring your answer
Main body • use this to present your arguments and evidence • you need to make links between one point and the next...but always refer back to the question • link paragraphs to develop continuity of argument • one theme = one paragraph

 1. Topic sentence: The rate of home ownership varies widely across the developed world.  2. Example 1: Germany, for instance, has one of the lowest rates, at 42%, while in Spain it is twice as high, 85%.  3. Example 2: Both the USA and Britain have similar rates of about 69%.  4. Reason: The reasons for this variation appear to be more cultural and historic than economics, since high rates are found in both rich and poorer countries.  5. Summary: There appears to be no conclusive link between national prosperity and numbers of home owners. (Bailey, 2001: 72)

Adapting formulas
• These formulas can be adapted, such as:
– Introducing paragraph topic – Case study – Academic critique / scholarly references – Your analysis and reflection – Summarise paragraph – Link to next paragraph to continue argument

Developing an argument
• grant a balance of opinion: look at both sides of the argument, write about what each side says and then offer a critical opinion of your own • draw on a range of sources, not just those which back your opinion • when you use a source make sure you discuss it • opinions must be supported by evidence

Formal and informal discussion
+ Benefit Advantage A positive aspect drawback disadvantage A negative feature

Pro (informal)
Plus (informal)

Con (informal)
Minus (informal)

One major advantage is …. A serious drawback is…

impersonal or objective style
• avoid (personal) “I read an article by John Smith and didn’t agree with it…” • adopt (academic) “It has been suggested by Smith (2006)…. However, this opinion has been challenged by Jones (2007).

cautious or tentative…
• grey areas and shifting paradigms: it is wise to use a cautious tone in your writing, because very often you are discussing issues in which there is no absolutely right answer • avoid claims: it's usually better to 'suggest', rather than 'state.'

Shorter, more diverse than introductions. Summarises final arguments and clear that the original questions has been answered.  Statement how aim has been achieved  Discussion of the implications of your research  Some new information on the topic not mentioned before  Short review of the main points of your study  Some suggestions for further research  The limitations of your study  Comparison with the results of similar studies  A quotation which appears to sum up your work (Bailey, 2011: 83)

Final advice
• proof reading – swap draft with a friend? • use active / direct language, not passive; remove extraneous language • develop your ‘voice’ – grows with experience • start research as soon as possible • plan a monthly schedule to concentrate on assignments (1 week – 1 essay, etc)

Learning Development
Learning Development@Lincoln Learning Development Library Guide opment Library offers 1-1 sessions as well as workshops through the year.