Definition of an Essay
The basic intention of an academic essay is to portray a structured, informed narrative via a set of coherent ideas that are presented in linear fashion. This may include weighing up different viewpoints on your subject on route to reaching a cohesive contextual conclusion that is ultimately unique to your perspective.
Rather than being an overly casual piece of writing, academic essays tend to be personal to the writer, requiring true knowledge of the subject. Therefore, preparation through further research around the central topic and related sub-topics is essential, which should be evidenced and referenced where necessary within the essay itself.
Bearing the reader in mind, it can be helpful to put yourself in their position. It is they who will determine the overall value of your argument; ask yourself what they may be wondering about the subject, how to answer their problems, and ultimately why they should care about what you have to say.
Yes! Regardless of the type of essay that you’re writing, you always need to follow the main essay structure. Every essay will begin with an introduction, end with a conclusion, and have body paragraphs in the middle. Each body paragraph should represent a different argument.
There are four main types of essays and they are:
- Argumentative essays
- Persuasive essays
- Compare and contrast essays
- Descriptive Essays
Each one of these essay types will follow the basic essay structure with an introduction, the body paragraphs and a conclusion. However, the process for writing an essay differs with each different type, so be sure to research the requirements before you start writing.
A good essay introduction needs to start with an attention grabber to draw in the reader. Depending on which type of essay you’re writing, the attention grabber could be a rhetorical question, an anecdote or even a quote. Then, you lead the reader from your opening sentences to the thesis statement which should be towards the end of the introduction.
First, you will need to conduct some preliminary research to discover the most suitable research topic for your essay. Once you’ve chosen a topic to focus on, you write your thesis statement, conduct some further research and then outline your essay plan. The next step is to start writing!
Find Your Research Question
Every research project starts with a question. Your question will allow you to select, evaluate and interpret your sources systematically. The question you start with isn’t set in stone, but will almost certainly be revisited and revised as you read.
A research question helps you narrow your research and write a clear, arguable thesis. Your research question needs to be concise, arguable, and focused on your particular topic. Before writing your research question, narrow down your topic and brainstorm possible questions. Then, select the best question and craft it into a good research question. As another option, choose the type of research question that fits your purpose and format your question to fit that style.
Here is the general way with an example from a broad topic to your research question:
1. Broad Topic: Pollution
2. Restricted Topic: Acid rain
3. Narrowed Topic: Acid rain in the United States
4. Research Question: What can the United States do to prevent acid rain?
It is also important that you take your time to find a good research question. There are some things you should do and some you shouldn´t.
Would you like to know more about finding your research question? The following article gives you more information about research questions. This way:
Referencing & Citation Styles
Referencing and citation is an essential part of academic writing. Its purpose is to acknowledge the original source of ideas and work that is not the author’s own, and to point the reader to the original documents so that they can determine independently whether the attributed sources support the author’s argument as written.
There are many different ways of citing resources from your research. The citation style sometimes depends on the academic discipline involved. For example:
- APA/Harvard (American Psychological Association) is used by Education, Psychology, and Sciences
- MLA (Modern Language Association) style is used by the Humanities
- Chicago style is generally used by Business, History, and the Fine Arts
This article shows you the most important things you need to know about referencing & citation styles. This way:
Writing an Introduction
In the beginning of every academic paper you have to draw the reader´s attention to the topic. Therefore you are writing an introduction, which gives an first overview about the aim of your essay.
There are 8 steps of how to write an introduction:
1. Leading to the topic
2. Justification of the topic’s relevance
3. Subject of your research paper or essay
4. Objectives of your research paper
5. Outline of Methods
6. Dissociations and limitations of your research questions and their reasons
7. Differentiation and disambiguation of terms
8. Structure of your research paper or essay
Your introduction has to guarantee that the reader will keep reading your essay with interest. In addition to that it shouldn´t be too long. The introduction paragraph should account between 5-15% of your paper.
You would like to know more about the steps of how to write an introduction? This article gives you more information about how to write an introduction. This way: