Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Introduction to essay writing Dr Claudine Provencher.

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "Introduction to essay writing Dr Claudine Provencher."— Presentation transcript:

1 Introduction to essay writing Dr Claudine Provencher

2 Why essays? Link between how we write and how we think Different codes for different professions: developing your identity as an expert in your discipline Specific way of writing/thinking in social sciences: –An attempt to answer

3 Why only an attempt to answer? ‘essay’ – from latin ‘exagium (to examine, to weigh, to judge) This is because accounting for human behaviour is hard The correct answer at the LSE is always ‘It’s complex, it depends on…’

4 Why are you wearing the socks you are wearing today? Different explanations are possible and equally valid: –Physical necessity / comfort –Culture / gender representations / identity –Social psychological theories None of the research methods available will produce absolute knowledge: –Interviews: honesty? –Questionnaires: sample bias, social desirability

5 Writing in the social sciences Given the complexity and limits of knowing… –Writing is making an argument on the basis of the evidence available –These arguments reflect multiple causal influences; there is almost never one sole cause –Writing is qualified – ‘seems / appears / suggests’ –Writing integrates theory and empirical evidence

6 Writing at LSE A game called ‘essay’: –Show you can think: answer the question, show judgement (critical from ‘kritos’ – judge) –Show you have read: integration of literature –Show real world knowledge: illustration

7 What is criticality? Academic study involves reading particular sources and writing in a particular way, which requires thinking in a particular way Mainly done through questioning your readings and the material covered in your lectures Typical questions will include: –Expertise question: How credible is expert E? –Field question: Is E an expert in the field A is in? –Opinion question: What did expert E assert that implies A? –Trustworthiness question: Is E personally reliable as a source? –Consistency question: Is A consistent with what other experts assert? –Backup evidence question: Is A’s assertion based on evidence?

8 How to approach this form of writing/thinking Analyse the question Plan a reasoned argument Read, review the plan, write Review the strength of your argument

9 Analyse the question Answering a question first requires you to analyse the question ‘Non-monetary measures of poverty are better than monetary measures.’ Do you agree? The ‘correct’ essay answer at the LSE is ‘it depends / it’s complex’. Any statement that is absolute, as this is, should be questioned What questions could you ask from this question?

10 Analyse the question ‘ Non-monetary measures of poverty are better than monetary measures.’ Do you agree? What are monetary and non-monetary measures? How and why are they used? How will I define poverty? How will I define ‘better’? –For measuring poverty –For guiding policy making One possible answer: ‘Since poverty is multi-dimensional, a multi-dimensional approach to its measurement seems appropriate. Monetary and non-monetary measures are thus complementary.’

11 How to approach this form of writing/thinking Analyse the question Plan a reasoned argument Read, review the plan, write Review the strength of your argument

12 Plan a reasoned argument Win the game called essay through… Thesis – state the main idea / your opinion Justification – explain your reasons / convince the reader as informed by literature Support – back your reasons up with evidence

13 Thesis Provides the ‘spine’ of your essay –Introduction: your answer and argument –First sentences: the idea each paragraph will argue The rest of each paragraph argues for the idea in the first sentence (justification + support) –Conclusion: your argument and answer (+ ‘so what?’)

14 Thesis - Introduction Establish the context – why is the question important? Clarify / reframe the question if needed but beware! Set the limits of your essay Answer the question – your thesis Give the reasons for your answer – these reasons will be the paragraphs, so follow the same order (signposting)

15 Thesis – Development In this model, the first line sentence of each paragraph gives the topic and the main idea of the paragraph. Good practice is to … –Ensure all topic sentences directly address the question / forward your argument –That the topic sentence is you – not ‘Habermas argues that…’ –Keep topic sentences clear (+ probably short)

16 Thesis - Conclusion Summarise the argument Restate your answer (sense of ‘therefore…’) ‘So what?’

17 Justification The justification of your thesis is the place where you demonstrate your reading and grasp of the discipline Therefore: –include a range of references –concentrate on the detail of the differences between positions / schools of thought

18 Planning a reasoned argument ‘Non-monetary measures of poverty are better than monetary measures.’ Do you agree? Poverty is complex – income / human development approaches Non-monetary measures may capture less tangible aspects (participation, social capital, etc.), but income is an essential element of human development and autonomy approaches to poverty Monetary measures capture income and consumption aspects of poverty, but the struggle to contextualise these, e.g. within households / may create arbitrary divisions between ‘the poor’ Case – HPI combines income and development indicators to provide a more holistic measure, but limitations remain (reporting)

19 Introduction The complexity involved in measuring poverty is derived from the inherent complexity of the concept itself. Definitions current in academia and government point to both monetary and more social aspects of poverty, with the latter typically captured by non-monetary measures, such as literacy rates and life expectancy figures. Given the interaction between income and individual capacity, measuring poverty would seem to require mixed methods approaches that allow for a more holistic understanding of the phenomenon. Relying on a purely non-monetary measure will offer just as partial a set of results as just relying on purely monetary measures. While not perfect, the UNDP’s Human Poverty Index represents such a multi-dimensional measure. 

20 Topic sentences 1.Poverty is inherently complex. This has inescapable consequences for its measurement. 2.While non-monetary measures may capture important aspects of human capability, an understanding of poverty that does not also measure income is necessarily partial. 3.Monetary measures address these shortcomings, however they themselves suffer from the inability to contextualise the consumption they measure. 4.A more satisfactory approach appears to be to combine monetary and non-monetary measures, as the UNDP does with the Human Poverty Index. 

21 Conclusion The case for a multi-dimensional approach to the measurement of poverty appears clear. Central to this is the simple fit between a multi- dimensional social phenomenon and the measures used to investigate its incidence, causes and solutions. The implementation of such an approach to measuring poverty remains though far from simple. Taking the case of the HPI, significant choices are required in the setting and use of each indicator. Literacy may, at first sight, appear a straightforward ability to measure. However, the interaction between contextual language use and overall competence is uneven and which level to set as the benchmark is problematic. At very least, such a choice requires considerable judgement and this will depend greatly on the approach to poverty taken and political considerations affecting alleviation efforts. This, though, brings us back to the basic problem of the inherently complex nature of poverty itself. 

22 How to approach this form of writing/thinking Analyse the question Plan a reasoned argument Read, review the plan, write Review the strength of your argument

23 Reviewing the strength of an argument Aristotelian rhetoric – reasoning involves three proofs (pisteis): –Ethos: credibility of message and sender –Pathos: empathy, appeal to readers’ interests –Logos: internal logic, flow of argument

24 Good academic writing Ethos (credibility) –Form of argument – balanced and informed –Writer’s voice / perspective – indirect, detailed and specific –Recourse to appropriate sources / detailed examples and cases –Disciplinary / formal language

25 Good academic writing Pathos (effect on your reader) –Originality of thought, comparison or expression –Reference to key questions / debates / questions showing wider understanding –Clarity and completeness of argument –New information / analysis relevant to the reader’s interests

26 Good academic writing Logos (logic and flow) –Answer the question –Structure and form of the argument –Clarity of basic plan + specificity of support for the points made –Flow of argument (narrative + links)

27 Conclusion The correct answer is – ‘it’s complex, it depends on…’ Know why you are writing – demonstrate judgement –Analyse the question and answer it –Plan your reasoning and evidence to support this answer –Read to develop your plan, don’t read to make a plan –Review your argument – is it convincing?

28 Plagiarism LSE statement “Work submitted by a candidate for assessment must be his/her own alone. The passing off of the work of others as the work of the candidate is plagiarism. It refers to any work by others, whether published or not, and can include the work of other candidates. Any quotation from the published or unpublished works of other persons including other candidates must be duly acknowledged.”

29 Plagiarism includes: Quoting without quotation marks or references Paraphrasing without referencing Summarising without referencing Taking an image, source, diagram without referencing Collaborating on what should be individual work Taking another student’s ideas and passing them off as your own Re-cycling your own work which has been submitted for assessment elsewhere

30 LSE penalties for plagiarism Record placed on file (esp. for coursework) Mark of zero on particular piece of work Mark of zero on complete paper (awarded in 50% of cases) Mark of zero for ALL papers that year Denying right of candidate to re-register. JISC plagiarism advice and detection service LSE uses TURNITIN.COM “similarity index” and checks work against: A database of previously submitted material (i.e. other students essays and assignments) Over 1.8 billion web-sites Essays from cheat sites Selected subscription services

31 Disciplinary context is key! Department of Social Psychology Distinction (70 – 100): Work of exceptional quality, demonstrating a high level of conceptual ability and a thorough and consistent approach – typically, excellent critical judgement, presentation and content. It is distinguished by a pattern of: A thorough understanding of the topic and its implications A clearly expressed and convincing argument which is used to develop a coherent and logical framework within which to answer the question or address the topic, and which is well grounded in existing theory and research Excellent and appropriate grammar, punctuation, spelling and sentence construction. Clear, and often imaginative, structure Evidence of independent research or reading, going beyond lecture and seminar handouts. The absence of irrelevant or extraneous material An insightful argument showing signs of originality (Where relevant) Skilled use of referencing and/or appropriate stylistic conventions (e.g., APA) (Where relevant) Mastery of analytic techniques or research methods.

32 Department of International History 70 – 79%: Work which shows both broad and deep knowledge of the historical evidence as well as conceptual command of the subject matter, and the ability - based on a close engagement with the question and informed analysis of the historical period and issues raised - to go beyond paraphrasing the work of other scholars and demonstrate some independent critical discussion and insight.

Download ppt "Introduction to essay writing Dr Claudine Provencher."

Similar presentations

Ads by Google