Presentation on theme: "Approaching a Question & Research"— Presentation transcript:
1 Approaching a Question & Research The first step to writing a good essay
2 APPROACHING THE QUESTION Step 1: Begin by reading the question carefully.Step 2: Cautiously examine and underline the key words and concepts in the question.Step 3: Explain the question to yourself to make sure you fully understand: paraphrasing the question then checking to see if the paraphrased version and the original question match up is a good way to do this.
3 Instruction/action words Describe: give a detailed and comprehensive account of (something).How: entails the need to find the origins and history (background) behind your topic.Compare: examine the characteristics of the objects in question to demonstrate their similarities and differences; make a list of the similarities and differences that you can discuss in detail.Contrast: examine the characteristics of the objects in question to demonstrate their differences.
4 Instruction/action words Analyse: requires you to consider the various components of the whole and explain the relationships among them; look for underlying assumptions and question their validity (legitimacy).Discuss: present the different aspects (sides) of a question and problem.Evaluate: examine the various sides of a question. To evaluate asks you to present opinion and to apply your judgement in response to the topic. Here your point of view (thesis) must be supported by clearly stated evidence. Phrases such as to what extent or in what way also ask for an evaluation.Argue (meaning to agree or disagree) also asks you to state your opinion based on your analysis of the evidence. The major difference here is that you will need to consider other possible opinions or viewpoints (counter-argument), and defend your own position in comparison to those other viewpoints (rebuttal).
5 What is this question asking you to do? Explain the origins and characters of ‘nationalism’. What is its significance for the politics of contemporary states?
6 What is research?Research refers to looking for information on a particular topic or field. This search involves looking at what others have written on this topic or field (called secondary research), which you will then use to form and support your argument/response to a question.
7 The Research Process1) First you must break down the question into its different parts/ sections.2) Then you must determine if it is a closed/open- ended question.3) Refer back to your paraphrased & original essay question.4) Start searching.
8 Where should you look for information? The Library: You can access a great deal of books, journals, articles and other resources at the library.The UCT Library Website ( )For how to find journal articles online:For how to find books online:
9 Reliability of sources online The printed resources in the library have almost always been thoroughly evaluated by experts before they are published.Anyone can have a website, which means that they can put up whatever they want on it –whether credible or not. Be aware that what goes on a website is often not reviewed by anyone and may be very opinionated and misleading or even completely false.
10 Clearly stating your argument Thesis StatementsClearly stating your argument
11 What is a thesis statement? A thesis statement is a single sentence that distils the central argument of an academic paper.It is first stated in the introduction of the paper.The body of the essay then goes about illustrating the merits of this statement, or why it is that the author has taken that particular stance .The conclusion of the paper then refers back to the thesis statement and briefly highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the central argument as outlined in the body of the paper (summary of the key points that built the argument).
12 What is a thesis statement? Presents your argument to the readerAnswers the essay questionIs an interpretation of a question or subjectStates how you will interpret the significance of the subject under discussionIs a road map for the paper: it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paperMust take a stance; do not simply restate the question
13 repeating the question Question: Compare and contrast reading for pleasure and academic reading. Which in your opinion is better?Common mistake =This paper will compare and contrast reading for pleasure and academic reading, and will state which is better.A thesis statement MUST express a position
14 What is a thesis statement? Presents your argument to the readerAnswers the essay questionIs an interpretation of a question or subjectStates how you will interpret the significance of the subject under discussionIs a road map for the paper: it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paperMust take a stance; do not simply restate the question
15 Essay Structure and Outlining Writing a Well-Structured Essay
16 Introduction Significance of the topic background & context clarity on the purpose of the paper- thesis statementthe methods that will be used to support the argument/roadmap of the essay.Remember:•Do NOT just repeat the topic/question.•You may need to briefly define any key terms in the essay.
17 bodyCheck-list:Develop your argument with the necessary ideas, facts, evidence.Put it in a logical order; what needs to be addressed first, second, last; follow your introduction.Build the argument with paragraphs that cover one clear idea and help support your main argument.Link the ideas being presented together; tell the reader why you are defining/discussing/explaining the concepts and theories that you are covering.Include counter-arguments: illustrate knowledge of both sides of the argument.
18 CONCLUSIONA good conclusion should offer a summary of the findings of the paper, repeating the thesis statement, and include any criticisms or shortcomings that were present in the argument.Avoid bringing up a new idea/concept in your conclusion.Emphasize what you have shown by using phrases like:- Thus it is clear that......- This essay has illustrated that
19 A ANALYSE THE QUESTION The outlining process Essay Question:What are some of the factors that led to the democratic transition in South Africa?
20 B The outlining process Brainstorm: The next step is to generate ideas from the course material which are relevant to the topic.Some ideas on where to start:What theories and concepts are relevant in discussing and/or understanding this topic?Who are the main authors (and their arguments on the theme/question)?What do I need to find out to answer this question?
22 C The outlining process Choose the ideas most relevant to the question and its central issue.It is impossible to cover everything in an essay, and your markers will be looking for evidence of your ability to choose material and put it in order.You should be able to link each idea to your thesis statement, and clearly explain the link between the point and the essay question.
23 D Defend The outlining process There is no right or wrong answer to most questions posed in the social sciences, there are simply good or bad arguments.Support your argument with evidence!
24 The Outline Introduction Body Conclusion The purpose of the essay, context and background, thesis statement, the methods used/roadmap of the essay.BodyI. Domestic political figuresa. Key parties and stancesi. ANCii. NPiii. IFPb. Political calculations and decision-makingII. Economic factorsa. Decreasing economic productivity and outputb. Costs of continued fightingIII. International pressurea. Sanctions and lost prestigeb. Democracy/human rights group pressureConclusionSummary of content discussed in body: how economic and international pressure came to bear on political decision making and the main political actors (must show how this content has supported the thesis statement)
25 English troubles?Book a consultation – bring in a copy of a previous essay so they can see what you are struggling with