I will walk you through the process of academic essay writing. My intention is to help you to develop your essay writing skills from start to finish. This includes identifying the essay type, planning the structure, honing your research and time management.
Hopefully, the information I will share will be informative to help master how you can write an essay. Part of the secret lies in having a full grasp of the topic at hand and this is an important element to writing a good academic essay.
I also hope that you will be able to pick your own thread of the argument to be able to lead your readers carefully so that they follow your essay thread throughout.
Writing an essay is a process that requires you to employ many skills. Most importantly, having organisational skills that allow you to do all your tasks in good timing and not forgetting skills for researching, reading, writing and revising your work.
What is an essay?
An essay is a short piece of writing centred around the main thesis. This is where you express your own point of view based on the evidence that you gather.
What is an essay for?
An essay develops a concise argument to convince the reader.
An essay is, generally, a piece of writing that gives the author’s own argument.
From a learning perspective, an essay gives students the platform to demonstrate to the examiner their understanding of the subject at hand.
An essay also gives the examiner a platform to test and explore where the student’s strengths and weaknesses lie.
To experience a smooth process of writing your essay, tackle one step at a time.
Before you start writing your essay you need to analyse the topic by reading every single word so that you identify the exact things you are required to address in your essay.
Then, sketch out a plan. A plan helps you to stick to your line of argument. That is, work out a logical structure for your essay.
Every essay should start off with an introduction. A good introduction has the power to introduce the topic and capture the reader’s attention.
An introduction is a right place to define the keywords and explain their meaning. Also, explain why this topic is important.
Then, move on to the plan which will help you to stick to your line of argument. That is, work out a logical structure for your essay. State your main thesis and write it down in one sentence.
Misunderstandings are the major causes of divorce among London couples.
Make sure throughout your essay, you remain within the confines of your title so that you answer the question and avoid going off topic.
(2) Main Body
The next stage is the gathering of facts through research, brainstorming, making reference to lecture notes and reviewing your literature.
When you are done you should list all arguments to support your thesis. Each idea should be in its own paragraph with a structure similar to this.
State Argument number 1
Hectic lifestyles among celebrities create misunderstandings leading to divorce.
Then add supporting details, for example, cite case studies and statistics to support Argument 1.
Wrapping up Argument 1
Therefore, this shows that …..
You repeat this process in the next paragraph for Argument Number 2 until you exhaust all your arguments that support your thesis.
The next step is focusing on the arguments that challenge your thesis. Please note that you must only make a list of the most important arguments.
In this section you do a brief recap of what you have covered in relation to your essay title, then evaluate the main arguments and highlight the most important aspects.
A conclusion is a summary of your arguments and evidence. You need to create a synthesis, revisit the thesis and draw connections.
(4) Plagiarism and Referencing
Let me explain a bit about referencing because it’s an area that most students have serious problems with. In the academic field, whenever you quote, paraphrase or get an idea from a source either a book, article or website, you need to reference it.
Referencing is acknowledging that you did not originate with the information and you are showing the reader where you have used someone else’s ideas or words.
Failure to properly reference may make your tutor or examiner think that you are cheating. It will obviously come across as if you are claiming someone else’s work as yours.
This is often referred to as plagiarism. Plagiarism is perceived as a serious offence.
To avoid plagiarism, you must reference your essay. Try your best to make sure your essay is 100 per cent plagiarism free. To achieve that you can use a plagiarism checker free online.
Referencing styles differ, depending on your area of study. Some institutions use the Harvard way of referencing. Other institutions of learning use the MLA style of referencing.
A reference list is the detailed list of references that are cited in your work. The title of a book can be italicised or underlined.
A section of a written work containing citations, not quotations, to all the books referenced in the work.
A list of books or documents relevant to a particular subject or author.
Whatever referencing style you decide to use, the most important thing to remember is to remain consistent throughout your essay.
Always check with your tutor or supervisor if the method of citation you have chosen is the right one.
I can’t overemphasise the importance of getting acquainted with the right style suitable for your department or faculty.
Please see the example given below of the Harvard referencing style used by DeMontfort University.
Example of a Reference List
(1) Ashton, F . (1948) Cinderella. (Royal Opera House, London, 13th January 2004).
(2) Chan, T .M. (2011) Three problems about
dynamic convex hulls. In: Proceedings of the 27th Annual Symposium on Computational Geometry, Paris, June 2011. New York: ACM, pp. 27-37.
(3) Maimon, D. and Browning, C .R. (2012) Adolescents’ violent victimization in the neighbourhood: situational and contextual determinants.British journal of criminology, 52 (4), pp. 808-833.
(4) Maltzman, R. and Shirley, D. (c .2011) Green Project Management. London:CRC Press.
Proofreading is the final thing you need to do as part of the process of writing your essay. This is where you read your essay to spot any grammatical errors and spelling mistakes and then correct them.
For best results, it’s advisable to leave a day between finishing your essay and proofreading it.
Proofreading can be done at the same time as you format your document. Formatting is checking your document to make sure you use the same style throughout your document.
Most preferable fonts are Aerial 2 and Times New Roman 12. In terms of spacing, it ranges from 1.5 – 2 (double) spacing.
All essays, whether academic or generic essays, should carry an introduction, body, and a conclusion.
Making use of a mind mapping process is an effective way to plan your essay structure. The Body, which is the middle part of the essay, must fulfil everything that you have spelt out in your essay structure. It is the section where you build a large amount of content through ideas, explanations and evidence that you gather from various sources.
You need to get to grips with the skill of gathering information and you must focus on relevant information only. A process referred to as reviewing the relevant literature.
Proofreading is the last thing to do but not the least important. Undeniably, time management is a key skill that every student should have.
Without time management, students will struggle to meet their deadlines for submitting their essays.
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