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    The Parts and Structure of the Academic Essay

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    An academic essay has the following parts: An introductory paragraph oft sub-parts – general to specific statements leading to the specific topic, and the thesis statement. Body paragraphs, which either present (1) information in a logical sequence, or (2) a supported argument to convince the reader of your opinion or answer to the essay question. A concluding paragraph of two sub-parts – either a conclusion or summary of the essay in the first sub-part, and then your opinion and/or final comments.

    I . 2 Most academic essays have the following Structure: Within the structure are three components: the thesis, the argument and the support. The thesis is your answer to the essay question. It is also called the claim or the main idea Of the essay. The argument is your method Of convincing the reader that your thesis is true. The support is the evidence, information, data, examples, illustrations, etc. That are used to prove the claims you use in your argument. 1. The aim of the essay Essays are written either to describe or explain something, or to convince the reader of any claim you put forward. 2. 0 THE INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPH 2. 1 The introductory paragraph has four purposes: . It introduces the topic of the essay. 2. It gives a general background Of the topic. 3. It should arouse the reader’s interest in the topic. 4. It often indicates the overall “plan” Of the essay. 2. 2 The structure of the introductory paragraph: The introductory paragraph has two sub-parts: (a) general to specific statements and (b) a thesis statement. A) General to specific statements: should introduce the topic of the essay should give background information on the topic should start with a very general comment about the subject to attract the reader’s attention and indicate the area or field tooth topic tooth essay should come more specific with each subsequent sentence and finally lead into the specific topic of the essay N.B.: Add only add the information that is necessary for the reader to know before he or she starts reading the body of the essay. B) A thesis statement: should state the specific topic and what you are going to write about it should be contestable should list the subdivisions of the specific topic may indicate the method of organization of the entire paper is usually the last sentence in the introductory paragraph An introductory paragraph is like a funnel: very Wide at the top, increasingly arrow in the middle, and very small at the neck or bottom. 2. 3 Model Introductory Paragraph General to Specific Statements: Specific Topic: Thesis Statement: South African students finish high school when they are 18 to 19 years old.

    If they have passed their matrix, they can enter university immediately or they can take a year or two off. If they do not pass matrix, they can wait until they do and then enter. In either case, students can choose between entering university directly or taking some time off beforehand. Those students who do take some time off before entering university seem to be better prepared, perform better, enjoy heir university life more and make better employees once they start working. For these reasons, there has been a suggestion that all students should be made to take at least one year off after high school before entering university.

    This would be a good idea for many students because it means they would enter university with more maturity and a greater sense of responsibility, they would be clearer about what they want to study and therefore less likely to give up, and be more able to deal with the different learning styles and expectations of university study. However, the year off should not be compulsory for all students. . 0 THESIS, ARGUMENT AND SUPPORT 3. 1 Thesis All essays need a thesis, which is expressed in the thesis statement and is your answer to the essay question.

    If you do not have an answer, it is going to be very difficult to write the essay. Once you have decided on a thesis, you then need to set about convincing your reader that your answer is correct – or at least feasible. You will need an argument for this. Arguments need support. You will need to use the appropriate evidence, examples, facts, illustrations, research, etc. To support each Step (claim) of your argument. 3. 2 Argument a. Introduction The only way you can convince your reader that your thesis is correct is to support it with an argument that is valid and that has evidence for the premises you put forward.

    If you don’t have at least some idea of how to argue for a thesis, you probably don’t really understand what the thesis is. Your argument defines the structure of your paper so that if you have a clear argument you already have a good essay plan and clear style should follow relatively easily. B. Putting the essay argument together You need to put your argument together before you do any writing. Base it n what you know and the intimation you have at hand. If you get any more information or have second thoughts, change or modify the argument. Make sure you have an argument you are happy with.

    When writing an argument, PU already know what you want your conclusion to be: your thesis, The question is where to start. Your argument needs to start with an opening claim, which should be both general and readily acceptable by the reader, prom this first general claim, you move, step-by-step, adding new claims that are true and are connected to the ones before, until you reach the conclusion. It takes practice to earn to write good arguments. You cannot expect to come up with a good argument the first time Practice putting together simple arguments until you master the process, and then follow the same procedure for your essay arguments. . 3 Support All logical arguments consist of premises leading to a conclusion. Essay arguments are a little different in that they consist Of claims leading to a final claim, which is your answer to the essay question, your thesis. You need evidence for your claims so they Will not be taken as unfounded. Don’t just make assertions without backing them up; if you present the evidence that led o to form your point Of view, then your reader Will not be as quick to dismiss your interpretation. The type of evidence required (statistical data, graphs. Empirical data, paraphrased textual evidence, quotations, analogies, anecdotes, etc. Is determined by your thesis and the claims you present. Make sure you know the difference between good and poor support. All evidence must include source notes! Make sure that you know the difference between evidence and the argument, and that it is evident in your essay. A compelling discussion of your thesis does not constitute evidence for it. Without strong evidence an essay urns into an opinion piece rather than a well-structured argument. Evidence is much more effective when you use it to support your argument, rather than just “throwing” it into the essay without the proper connections to what you are trying to prove, 4. BODY PARAGRAPHS 4. 1 Proper academic paragraphs The body paragraphs need to be in a clear and logical sequence. They also need to be well-written paragraphs that follow the guidelines for presenting ideas in order and for the parts, Structure and patterns Of academic paragraphs. 4. 2 Body paragraphs present the argument for the thesis With the support The odd paragraphs should contain the argument of the essay and the support. The argument will determine the order, the content, and the pattern of the paragraphs. 4. Follow your essay plan If you have a clear essay plan, it should be fairly easy to write the body paragraphs. The parts of the plan will tell you what the main idea of each body paragraph is, the pattern to follow, and what information to include. The plan below is based on the introductory paragraph above: Essay Argument Support LIZ students finish high school when they are about 18 years old Who are they? How old are they? What do they study? Introductory paragraph Some then enter university directly; others take a year or so off How do they enter directly?

    How do they take time off? Why do they take time Off’students who take a year or so off get better results What are the results? Thesis statement: Taking a year off means students would enter university with more maturity and a greater sense of responsibility, would be clearer about what they want to study and therefore less likely to give up, and be more able to deal with the different learning styles and expectations of university study, For these seasons it is a good idea; although, it should not be compulsory tort all students.

    Reason 1 – enter university with more maturity and a greater sense of responsibility Why? What is the advantage of this? Body paragraphs Reason 2 – clearer about What they want to study and therefore less likely to give up What is the advantage Of this? Reason 3 ; more able to deal with the different learning styles and expectations of university study However, taking a year off should not be compulsory for all students Why not? 5. 0 THE CONCLUDING PARAGRAPH 5. 1 .

    The concluding paragraph consists of: a) A summary of the main points, or (b) a conclusion that is a restatement of your thesis in different words, or (c) both, and (d) your opinion and/or final comments on the subject, based on the information you have provided. Be sure to introduce the concluding paragraph with a transition signal. (a) Summary Of the main points: If your essay is not an argument, you could summaries the main points in the concluding paragraph. TO do this, go back over the essay and highlight the main points. Then restate them as a summary. B) Conclusion: If your essay is an argument, you will state the conclusion in the concluding arcograph, The conclusion should match the thesis statement. You could either restate the thesis and then briefly summaries the support or reasons given in the body, or you could summaries the main points first and then state the conclusion. Do not add any new information in the concluding paragraph. (c) Both a summary of the main points and a conclusion: Sometimes it is better to briefly restate your main points to remind your reader of your argument and then state your conclusion.

    Or, you could state your conclusion first and then briefly restate your main points. You will need to decide f this is better for the reader than just a summary or conclusion on its own. (d) Opinion and/or Final comments: This can be your opinions, suggestions, recommendations, proposals, etc. Since the concluding paragraph is the last opportunity to present opinions, you should write a strong, effective message that your reader will remember. 5. 2 Model concluding paragraph: Conclusion: Opinion: In conclusion, students (and universities) would benefit from a break after high school.

    Students would develop maturity and responsibility, they would be more likely to choose to study those subjects they enjoy and that lead to the type of rarer they want, and they would be more able to see the differences between studying at high school and at university and adapt, It is a good idea to have a year’s break, but it is probably not a good idea to make this compulsory. Some high school students are mature, they have a clear idea of what they enjoy studying and what career they would like. They are also able to adapt to the differences in learning styles and expectations.

    They should not be made to wait. However, for those high school students who have not reached maturity, or who are not sure of what they want to do, a year off should be encouraged, C USEFUL STEPS TO WRITING THE ACADEMIC ESSAY STEP 1: RESEARCH Assuming you’ve been given a topic, or have narrowed it sufficiently down, your first task is to research this topic. To discover worthwhile insights, you’ll have to do some patient reading. When you conduct research, move from light to thorough resources to make sure you’re moving in the right direction.

    Begin by doing searches on the Internet about your topic to familiarize yourself with the basic issues; then move to more thorough research on the Academic Databases; finally, probe the depths of the issue by burying yourself in the library. Make sure hat despite beginning on the Internet, you don’t simply end there. An academic essay using only Internet sources puts you ATA disadvantage for not utilizing better information from more academic sources. STEP 2: ANALYSIS As you research your topic, you will naturally be analyzing the arguments of different authors.

    In the academic world, authors must supply copious amounts of evidence and nuanced reasoning in order to persuade other scholars of their ideas. To enter the scholar’s “arena,” you will need to understand the principles of argument as well as come up with your own. An argument consists of two main components: a claim, and reasons tort that claim. Neither a claim without reasons, nor reasons without a claim, is an argument, Only when one leverages particular reasons to make a claim from those reasons do we say that an “argument” is taking place.

    STEP 3: BRAINSTORMING Find an original idea Brainstorming is the art of thinking critically to discover original, hidden insights about a topic. Assuming you’ve done a fair amount of research, you should now have a solid base of concepts to play around with for an essay. The task is now to stand on the shoulders of the scholars you’ve read and find something original o say about the topic. It is not enough to regurgitate What they have said. You must go beyond them to propose an original idea.

    Your paper should expose some new idea or insight about the topic, not just be 3 collage Of Other scholars’ thoughts and research although you will definitely rely upon these scholars as you move toward your point. STEP 4: THESIS After researching, analyzing, and brainstorming, PU should have worthwhile insight to write about. Now it’s time to convert that worthwhile insight into a polished thesis statement, which will then guide and shape the rest of the essay. The thesis acts as the main claim of your essay, and typically appears near the end of the introduction. Unless you have a compelling reason to relocate the thesis from the traditional place, put it at the end of your introductory paragraph, Readers anticipate and read closely your thesis, and they want to find a polished statement there. The thesis expresses in one concise sentence the point and purpose of your essay, The thesis must also be specific. Avoid broad, vague generalizations. Your thesis should include detail and specificity, offering the reader the why behind your reasoning, STEP S: OUTLINE Use an outline to plan Can you imagine a construction manager working on a skyscraper without a set of blueprints?

    No way! Similarly, writers construct essays using sets of blueprints or outlines to guide them in the writing process Drawing up an outline allows you to think before you write. What use is there in writing the entire essay only to realize that, had you done a little more planning beforehand, you would hue organized it in an entirely different way? What if you realize later, after free- writing the essay, that you should have omitted some paragraphs, restructured he progression of your logic, and used more examples and other evidence?

    The outline allows you to think beforehand What you’re going to Mite so that when you do write it, if you’ve done your planning right, you won’t have to do as much rewriting. You Will still, Of course, need to revise. Make your points brief When you construct your outline, keep it brief. The titles, headings, and points in your outline should be about one line each. Keep each line under twelve words. If you can’t compress your point into a one-liner, you probably don’t have a clear grasp of what you’re trying to say. Choose an appropriate arrangement

    Drawing up an outline allows you to see at a glance how each of the paragraphs fits into the larger picture. When looking at your paragraphs from this perspective, you can easily shift around the order to see how reorganization might be better. Remember that each paragraph in the essay should support the position or argument of your paper, Some writers urge a climactic arrangement, one that works up to your strongest point, which is delivered as a kind of grand finale, Another successful arrangement is the inductive argument, in which you build up the evidence first, and then draw conclusions.

    A problem-solution aroma involves presenting the problem first and then outlining the solution -? this works well for some topics because it is a soft version of the scientific method. Whatever your choice, choose an arrangement that presents a clear, logical argument. STEP 6: THE INTRODUCTION Get the reader’s attention The first goal in your introduction is to grab the reader’s attention. Wake him or her up and generate some interest about the topic. Don’t tire your reader with long introductions that fail to get quickly to the point and issue.

    Begin with specifics and jump right into the problem or conflict you are addressing. When readers see a good conflict, they are likely to take an interest in it. To grab the reader’s attention, you might present an interesting fact a surprising piece of information an exciting quotation an intriguing paradox an explanation of an odd term a short narrative/anecdote (not fiction) a provocative question Introductions to avoid: Dictionary definitions of words your reader should know. “Did you know? ” or “Have you ever wondered? Rhetorical questions WV his paper will be about “In this paper I will prove” Present your thesis The entire introduction should lead toward the presentation four thesis, hereby you take a stand on the issue you are discussing. Deliver your thesis at the end of the introduction so that your reader knows what general position you will take in your essay. You don’t need to spell out all the details of your thesis in the introduction, particularly if it would be bulky and unintelligible to the reader who lacks all the ensuing reference and context, but you should give the reader a good idea Of What your argument is.

    As you do this, avoid saying “I Will discuss or “l intend to argue . STEP 7: PARAGRAPHS Choose a singular focus Each paragraph should have a clear, singular focus to it. Avoid shifting topics thin the same paragraph- rather continue to develop the same idea you began with. Someone once compared the beginning of a new paragraph to the changing angle of a wall: when the angle of the wall changes, a new wall begins.

    Let your paragraphs be like that wall: running straight along a certain angle, and beginning anew when the angle changes, Begin with a topic sentence A topic sentence is generally the first sentence to the paragraph, and it describes the claim or point of the paragraph, thus orienting the reader to the purpose of the paragraph. When you use topic sentences, your reader will invariably find it easier to follow your thoughts and argument. Develop the idea A paragraph should be at least half a page long but usually no more than one page.

    How, then, do you fill that paragraph length? Try implementing some of the following techniques for development: illustrate your idea with examples give an authoritative quotation anticipate and respond to counterarguments back your ideas With more evidence offer another perspective to the idea brainstorm more insights about the idea elaborate on causes/effects, definitions, comparison/contrasts Use transitions Transitions are words that help the audience follow your train bethought. Transitions help the reader connect new information to what he or she has just read.

    Transition words can be used to Show location: Show time: above, across, near, between, inside, below, throughout after, as soon as, finally, during, then, when, next Compare: also, likewise, as, similarly Contrast: although, however, but, even though, yet Emphasize: this reason, especially, in fact, in particular Draw conclusions: as a result, finally, therefore, in conclusion, thus Add information: additionally, tort example, besides, moreover, also Clarify: instance STEP 8: THE CONCLUSION Recap your main idea that is, in other words, for

    In the conclusion you need to recap your ideas in a clear, summarizing manner. You want your readers to understand the message you intended to communicate. Leave a memorable impression It’s not enough just to restate your main ideas if you only did that and then ended your essay, your conclusion would be flat and boring. You’ve got to make a graceful exit from your essay by leaving a memorable impression on the reader. You need to say something that will continue to simmer in the reader’s minds long after he or she has put down your essay.

    TO leave this memorable impression, try … Giving a thought-provoking quotation scribing a powerful image talking about consequences or implications stating what action needs to be done ending on an interesting twist of thought explaining why the topic is important Keep it short Keep your conclusion short, probably ten lines or less, and avoid fluff. You’re just trying to make an interesting exit, and presumably all the really important points have been made previously in your essay.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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