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I teach many first year, second year and third year students so if you come into the Psychology department I'm sure I'll see lots of you while you're here.
Today I'm going to be talking a little bit about guidelines for writing essays. Now I'm sure that when you've got essays to write you'll find lots of different instructions to follow for the different assignments that you've got, and of course you'll have to pay attention to them. But what I'm going to give you today are some helpful guidelines which I hope will be useful to you as you set about the task of writing an essay.
Come up with a clear line of argument Well, my first guideline for writing an essay is to make sure that you have a clear line of argument. Although it seems like an obvious point, I've read many essays where student simply don't answer the question.
They'll talk about lots of things that relate to the question but they don't actually give you an answer to the question. So if the title is in the form of a question, make sure you answer the question. And even if the essay title isn't in the form of a question, make sure that you have something clear that you want to say.
Don't just talk in general terms about the subject area. Make sure you have a clear point that you want to communicate in your essay. Make it clear where you are going All right, so my second major guideline for writing an essay is to make it clear where you are going.
The reader needs to know what you're saying and needs to be aware of the path that you are taking in the essay. So don't wait until the very end of the essay to reveal the main point that you're trying to communicate. As I've said before the most important thing in an essay is to come up with a clear line of argument and it's important to tell the reader about that right at the beginning.
So set out your plan for the essay at the outset and then use the rest of the essay to actually build up your argument. Use examples and evidence to support the points that you're making.
Don't run through a whole range of different examples and pieces of evidence and theories and then at the end say the point that you want to make about it. Make the point first and then use the evidence to support it. Plan your essay Express your key points in complete sentences My third guideline for writing an essay is to use a plan.
Once you've done all your reading, once you've done all your research you need to step back from it and decide what you're going to say. Come up with your main line of argument, but plan your essay before you launch into the actual writing of the essay.
That means that you need to decide exactly what your key points are. So you need a logical sequence of key points that actually build up your argument. One of the mistakes that I often see students doing, and one of the things that makes plans a bit problematic for a lot of students, is that when they're coming up with their outline for their essay they just have a list of subject headings: First I'm going to be talking about this, then I'm going to be talking about that, and then last of all I'm going to talk about that.
And actually that's not a very good plan, because when you go down to write something you don't know what you're going to say. You know what you're going to talk about, but you don't know what you're going to say about it. So the most important thing about the plan is to decide what your main points are and to express them in complete sentences -- not just what are you going to talk about but what are you going to say about it?
Once you've got that sequence of key points expressed in complete sentences you should have a pretty good summary of your essay. And that should be able to stand alone as an answer to your essay question. Select your evidence Once you've decided on your sequence of key points, then you can start to flesh out your plan by listing the evidence that you're going to include for each key point.
What examples are you going to draw on? What pieces of evidence or empirical work or theoretical work are you going to use to actually support each of those key points? Once you've actually done that you've got a really good framework for writing your essay: Review your choice of key points and evidence One final point about the plans.
If you look at your plan and you find that you've got nine, ten or even more key points then think again about whether they really need to stand separate from each other as different points. In an essay, and even in longer essays like 4, word essays, you'll usually only need to have a handful of key points.
Remember the main objective is to support the main line of argument that you want to present to the reader. That doesn't mean that you have to cover absolutely everything that you've read. Ask someone else to read your essay My next guideline for writing an essay is to make sure that you give it to someone else to read.
It's really important to get a second opinion on your essay and sometimes when you've been working on an essay for a long time it can be really hard to adopt a fresh objective stance and look at your essay.
So find someone, maybe a friend that you can bribe to read your essay, maybe a family member, long suffering flat mates - whoever you can. Get someone else to read the essay and to try and extract the main points.Reflective writing: a basic introduction - University of Portsmouth (PDF, KB; opens in a new window) Provides a useful introduction to reflective writing; a suggested structure, with an example; it includes vocabulary and phrases you could use.
Reflective writing assignment uni of portsmouth (creative writing holidays in spain) I feel like this essay is never ending.
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Enter a word (or two) above and you'll get back a bunch of portmanteaux created by jamming together words that are conceptually related to your inputs.. For example, enter "giraffe" and you'll .