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Essays IACT 918 July 2004 Gene Awyzio SITACS University of Wollongong.

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Presentation on theme: "Essays IACT 918 July 2004 Gene Awyzio SITACS University of Wollongong."— Presentation transcript:

1 Essays IACT 918 July 2004 Gene Awyzio SITACS University of Wollongong

2 2 Essays Overview What is an essay? Writing reports & Essays –Introduction –The intent of the report –Basic report structure –The body of the report –Presentation –Conclusions –Recommendations –References and Bibliography

3 3 What an Essay is NOT A memory dump –Of everything you know –Presented in jumbled order –Bit of a conclusion somewhere near the end A random rambling discussion of points vaguely related to the question A series of repetitions of the same answer expressed in different ways

4 4 What an Essay IS “A sustained argument, developing from, or weighing the evidence about an idea or question and creating a full and satisfying conclusion” –Stephen McClaren, Easy Writer: A Students Guide to writing Essays and Reports

5 5 What an Essay IS “A sustained argument, developing from, or weighing the evidence about an idea or question and creating a full and satisfying conclusion” –Stephen McClaren, easy writer: A students guide to writing essays and reports

6 6 What an Essay IS An argument is a proposition –The main line of thought, backbone of the essay –When supported by detailed discussion and logic in support this is called an argument

7 7 What an Essay IS Any discussion in an essay must be DIRECTLY related to the argument Discussion is sustained by reference to –Facts –Examples –Interpretations –Analysis –Critical thinking Which serve to support your argument You should periodically sum up showing how the point you are currently discussing relates to your argument

8 8 What an Essay IS Within each paragraph of an argumentative type essay, facts (pertinent data) are not sufficient on their own –Facts used to support your thesis must be specifically linked back to the thesis –The reader should not have to perform 'mental gymnastics' to make the link between your thesis and the point being discussed

9 9 What an Essay IS The information presented must be relevant to the point you are making and it must be convincing –To be relevant the writer has to be ruthless in rejecting any ideas and facts which do not directly help to build the credibility of the thesis –To be convincing, the writer needs to report on research undertaken by reputable experts and which supports the validity of the thesis

10 10 What an Essay IS In an academic essay, the format for sustaining an argument is –State your thesis in the introduction and provide the main reasons for the support of the thesis –In the body of the essay you take each reason in turn, explain the significance of the reason and then show how it supports your thesis –The conclusion is the place for you to provide the reader with the big picture and remind the reader of the significance of your thesis

11 11 What an Essay IS Full Conclusions should go beyond a summary of the main points in the essay They should look at the implications and significance of the main points in light of your main argument

12 12 Basic Report Structure The following components are present in almost all reports: 1.Title page (including Authors) 2.Table of contents 3.Summary or Executive Summary 4.Introduction 5.Chapters of detail 6.Conclusions and Recommendations 7.List of References or Bibliography 8.Appendices

13 13 Abstracts, Summaries or Executive Summaries Abstracts –Typically, an informative abstract answers these questions in about 100-250 words: Why did you do this study or project? What did you do, and how? What did you find? What do your findings mean?

14 14 Abstracts, Summaries or Executive Summaries Executive summaries –Provide an overview or preview to an audience who may or may not have time to read the whole report carefully –Explain why you wrote the report –Emphasize your conclusions or recommendation –Include only the essential or most significant information to support those conclusions –Accuracy is essential because decisions will be made based on your summary by people who have not read the original

15 15 Introduction Any report needs some clear guidelines: –Why are you writing the report? (The purpose) –Who will read the report? (The audience) –What will it cover? (The scope) –How will this be conveyed? (Clear language, logical progression of topics, use of figures, tables, equations, appendices, references, etc) –When is it required? (Time management) –Where is it required? (Physical location)

16 16 Introduction Your introduction serves three (3) main functions –To prepare the way ahead for your essay –To demonstrate that you have understood the question, and what that understanding is –To indicate your argument in response The introduction covers the following issues: –What was the problem and its context, –Why was it a problem, –How was the problem solved (briefly)

17 17 Introduction There are two stages in an introduction that are essential: –Thesis statement –Summary of main points to be discussed In addition sometimes the following stages are also required: –Orientation to the topic –Stating the scope of the discussion –Defining your term

18 18 Introduction The thesis statement –The thesis statement of the introduction functions the same as the controlling idea of the paragraph –It states the writer’s basic perspective on the topic of the essay or assignment Summary of main points to be discussed –The main points that the essay is going to raise can be mentioned either before or after the thesis statement

19 19 Introduction Orientation to the topic –Sometimes the writer needs to provide the reader with brief background information or a context for the writing such as a historical perspective –This stage is not always present in an introduction

20 20 Introduction Stating the scope of the discussion –Sometimes the writer feels that topic of an assignment is too extensive to cover in a limited number of words, so will choose to limit the discussion –You need to provide reasons why you are limiting the scope. It is not enough to simply declare that you are doing so

21 21 Introduction Defining your terms –Some topics require you to define what you understand by certain terms in the essay question –This is particularly so if the words are highly technical or are ‘common’ words used by the community but have a specialised meaning within your discipline –Definitions also make sure that the reader (marker) understands what you mean by the term

22 22 The Body The body of the report or essay contains the main thrust of your argument –It is normally made up of an Introduction, a number of chapters, plus Conclusions and possibly Recommendations.

23 23 Body of an Essay In a sustained essay the body MUST continue along the lines established in the introduction Other hints to writing a good body –Use topic sentences –Treat each point in turn (not each source) Convention: discuss points in the same order you introduced them –Use transition words and phrases between points or topics –Refer to your argument –Give specific proof –Qualify your statements

24 24 Body of the Report The body of the report must address: –Why was the study necessary? (the purpose) –When, where, how and by whom the study was conducted? –What were the findings? –What conclusions were drawn? –What recommendations were made? A report is someone’s (yours) account of their primary research –An event witnesses –Information collated

25 25 Conclusions and Recommendations Your report or essay will typically describe some findings which have been derived from –Observation –Experiment –Calculation –Literature review From these findings, you should draw some conclusions

26 26 Conclusions and Recommendations The insights that you can extract from your basic findings are a key part of your report or essay You may also be expected to make some recommendations based on your conclusions The findings are the foundations on which the conclusions rest, while the conclusions, in turn, support the recommendation

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