Study Skills Workshops 2014 Essays/ Assignments Structuring
Session Aims To discuss: Planning and structuring essays The writing process/ developing your writing Academic writing Reading, note-taking and referencing
Planning and structuring Answering the ‘question’ (Essay Title) Is the question open-ended or closed? Underline key words Try breaking the question down into sub-questions Top tip: Set the question in context – how does it fit with the key issues, debates and controversies in your module and your subject as a whole? An essay question often asks about a specific angle or aspect of one of these key debates. If you understand the context it makes your understanding of the question clearer.
Planning and structuring Before reading – generate some ideas.. - What do you already know about the topic – from lectures, seminars, general knowledge? - What things don't you know about the topic, but need to find out in order to answer the question? - What are your initial responses or answers to the question – what you think your conclusion might possibly be? After reading – summarise your findings.. – Use 1 A4 page – Mind map or list points – Bring together key points – use colour or symbols to group ideas/themes together – Begin mapping an essay structure for your main points
Planning and structuring Introduction: Address the question, show why it's interesting and how you will answer it. Main Body: Build your argument. Put your groups of ideas in a sequence to make a persuasive argument. One main point in each paragraph. Conclusion: Summarise your arguments and evidence, and show how they answer the original question.
Academic writing Avoid shortened forms: Shouldn't, it's for it is Avoid popular phrases or cliches such as: at the end of the day; in a nutshell; when it comes to the crunch Replace with: finally, in summary, in a crisis Avoid: subjective descriptions ("this beautiful sculpture") phrases that sound like speech ("well, this bit is really fascinating") casual everyday words such as really, okay, maybe. Where possible use the third person (“it can be argued” rather than “I think”)
Academic writing – including evidence and your own ideas A suggestion on how you can construct a paragraph that includes evidence and your own ideas: Introduce your point (your own words) Add the evidence to support your point (quoted or paraphrased evidence that needs to be referenced) Explain how and why this evidence supports your point and what you think of it (your own interpretation and critical thinking) Explain how the point helps answer the question (your own argument)
Some ways to get more critical analysis into your essays Avoid unnecessary description Don’t just summarise what you have read Interpret your evidence – preferable from more that one source Be specific Use counter-arguments to your advantage
Referencing Referencing includes: Citations (direct quotes, paraphrases, reference to other peoples ideas or work) Bibliography/ reference list – alphabetical list of sources Find out which style your subject area uses. Harvard? Chicago? Use referencing software e.g. Endnote or Zotero
Editing and proofreading Are your points in the right order and relevant to the question? Be ruthless – irrelevant? Cut it out!! Are your points clear? Any gaps? Leave at least a day before re-reading Read your essay aloud or use text reading software Check your references are complete and accurate
Useful links Free software and handouts - https://www.dnamatters.co.uk/resources/ https://www.dnamatters.co.uk/resources/ For sessions on Endnote and mindmapping software go to:- http://about.brighton.ac.uk/is/studentloco/lo co.php http://about.brighton.ac.uk/is/studentloco/lo co.php