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How to write an essay, how to write an essay-report Elena Pierazzo 1.

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Presentation on theme: "How to write an essay, how to write an essay-report Elena Pierazzo 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 How to write an essay, how to write an essay-report Elena Pierazzo 1

2 Essays Most common type of assessment Given topic Given length –Word counts: exactly the required length –5% grace, after than 2 points for each 5% up to 50%, then 3 points for each further 5% –Bibliography excluded –Notes (foot, end) included –Title included 2

3 Essay Present a topic Discuss literature Adopt a particular point of view Present some conclusions 3

4 School A&H marking criteria Parameters Understanding: the topic, the point of view Selection and coverage: the references, the bibliography Structure: the organisation of the argument 4

5 Understanding A: Authoritative, full understanding of all the issues with originality in analysis B: Independent, critical evaluation of full range of theories with some evidence of originality C: Some capacity to reflect critically but with no significant evidence of originality. F+: Lack of understanding and focus F: Shows almost no insight into the problem or topic 5

6 Selection and Coverage A: Full range of sources used selectively to support argument B: Complex work and concepts presented, key texts used effectively C: Sound knowledge base of primary and secondary sources F+: Limited sources F: Irrelevant sources and/or out of date sources 6

7 Structure A: Coherent and compelling argument well presented B: Argument concise and explicit C: The argument is developed but lacks fluency F+: Argument not fully developed and lacks structure F: Argument not developed, confused and incoherent 7

8 More details: The A range A++ (90-100) Strikingly insightful, displaying, for example: publishable quality, outstanding research potential, highest originality and independent thought, outstanding ability to make informed judgement, highest professional standards of writing and presentation. A+ (80-89) Insightful, displays, for example, excellent research potential, very high originality, possibly of publishable quality, professional standards of writing and presentation. A (70-79) Excellent; displays, for example, high levels of originality, accuracy, evidence of the potential to undertake research, the ability to analyse primary sources critically, very good standards of writing and presentation 8

9 More details: the B range B+ (65-69) Approaching excellence in some areas, evidence of the potential to undertake research B (60-64) Well developed relevant argument, good degree of accuracy and technical competence 9

10 More details: the C range (55-59) approaching merit, sound degree of competency but incomplete argument, contains some inaccuracies (50-54) broadly satisfactory, narrow argument, contains inaccuracies 10

11 More details: the Fail range F+ (40-49) patchy overall knowledge, presentational weakness, little evidence of independent thought F (0-39) fundamental mistakes, poor/unacceptable presentation 11

12 What makes a good essay? Critical thinking/analysis Cogency of argument Quality of written style Clarity of layout and argument Component parts link together Explore further than the obvious – push boundaries Focus on what is really important Need for effective communication Something that YOU are interested in

13 Finding information Reading books and articles, and taking notes Searching catalogues in libraries –Subjects, keywords, authors that have written something interesting –Google scholars/books In the library, shelves are often organised by topic –So always check the books on the same shelf as the one you were looking for Skimming books for information –Enables you to cover much more ground

14 Collecting and managing notes, quotations, references Volume of notes does NOT = quality of notes Develop easy shorthand for common words Notebooks Software –Desktop Endnote BiblDesk Pliny –Web based Zotero … and many others

15 Skimming books Try to make your reading effective –Most of the time you don’t need to read every word Look in: –TOC –Titles of chapters –Indices –Subtitles –Images and tables –Few words at the beginning of a paragraph…

16 Time management Check the deadline When applicable: agree the topic with your teacher Distribute time for reading and collecting materials and notes, writing, proofreading 16

17 1 month = 7 working days What??? 1 month = 7 working days What???

18 Writing Limitations of space Concise writing What is central to my argument? What can be omitted? Check word limits

19 Writing: your Outline Literature Review Methodology A set of interrelated questions Clear structure –Divide into sections and sub-sections –Aids clarity and readability Make the direction clear from start

20 Footnotes Avoid multiplication: if you have more than one quotation from the same page try to group them Be concise! Footnotes are difficult to read and are often ignored Use inline reference (Smith 2009:34) and reserve footnotes for digression 1 1. A similar approach has been discussed by Tupman 2009, p. 34, with the difference that here Tupman suggests that…

21 Outline Divide your essays into sections and assign a given number of words to each section The largest part of the essay (50% or more) should discuss the main topic of the essay Leave space for conclusions You don’t need to include the outline in your essay, but a description of the methodology is appropriate 21

22 4000 words’ essay: an example breakdown Introduction: 400 words (10%) Methodology: 400 words (10%) Central argument: 2600 words (65%) –Sub argument 1: 500 words –Sub argument 2: 800 words –Sub argument 3: 1400 words Conclusions: 600 words (15%) 22

23 Title Read the title and the rubric carefully: that will avoid ‘rubric infringement’ When you think you have finished, read the title again: does the content respond to the title? –Can help to check every paragraph and think ‘how does this respond to the title?’ –If it doesn’t, then delete it! 23

24 Writing a report Document and Reflect Description of a practical piece of work: software development, survey, interview, mock-up, internship Reflections on your choices, reflections on the methodology, reflections on the results 24

25 Structure Introduction: what you have done, what was requested Methodology: How you have done it Results: what have you obtained Discussion: critical evaluation of the methodology and of the results, limits of your work Conclusions: what you have learned, what would you do differently next time 25

26 Example: Internship Introduction I have done my internship at the National Theatre from 23-10-2012 until the 4-12- 2012. The National Theatre is a cultural institution that… 26

27 Methodology My role in during the internship was to digitise and store videos of past plays. To do that I had to use a software called…. Then I had to add metadata, which where similar the the standard NISO (Library of Congress 2009)… 27

28 Results At the end of my internship I had managed to digitise 3,500 videos, all of which have been uploaded to the internet. These videos have been made available to the public to download, and in particular to schools, fulfilling the mission of the National Theatre to produce a wide impact in the society 28

29 Discussion Digitised content plays a fundamental role in the mandate of public cultural institutions. Involving the general public by making this material available is fundamental, as remarked by Branson 2007… Working in a team has been a rewarding experience, though with some drawbacks due to the difficulty of having regular meetings… 29

30 Conclusions The experience at the National Theatre has been extremely useful, not only because I have been able to see in practice the issues we have discussed in class, but also because I felt that my contribution, reenforced by the knowledge acquired in class, has been valuable. 30


32 Grammar and spelling Avoid using contracted forms: academic writing is formal You can use the first person (I think, my opinion is), when you really want to make a statement, otherwise use the impersonal/passive form Use UK or US spelling, but don’t mix them Use –ize or –ise but not mix them “Its” and “it’s” are not the same thing! 32

33 Gender issues A “user” is not “he” Use “his/her” “he/she” “him/her” Or use the plural “their” “them” –But, if you do this then make sure everything that goes with it is plural as well! ‘The user finds it very effective to do their job’ ‘The users find it very effective to do their jobs’ 33

34 Watch your language! No matter what, ask someone to re-read it, in particular if this person does not know the argument Make sure your proof-reader is a native speaker READ ALOUD 34

35 Think! 35

36 Format Help us to read you! Use at least a 12pt font 1.5 or double spacing Give a title and a progressive number to any image, graphs, table 36

37 Copyright Most images on the web are protected by copyright: be careful! Declare the source of your images and check the terms of use If you are the owner of the copyright, then declare it and add to it a licence or copyright statement (Creative Commons, for instance) 37

38 Exercise Read the contributions from the issue of 2001 of Nature (411, 521) Outline an essay of 2500 words on the following topic : “The role of freely available scientific articles in the advancement of science” 38

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