Tim Fergien is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, and is teaching for the first time this coming year. When he was asked to deliver sessions on the art of essay-writing, he decided to publish a comprehensive (and brilliant) blog on the topic, offering wisdom gleaned from turning out 2 or 3 essays per week for his own undergraduate degree.
“There is actually a knack into it,” he says. “It took me until my second or third year at Cambridge to operate it out. Nobody informs you how to create an argument and push yourself from the 60 to some 70, but once you to get grips with how you’re designed to construct them, it’s simple.”
The aim of How To Write An Essay Introduction would be to show that you can think critically concerning the material available (whatever it might be). This means going beyond regurgitating what you’ve read; if you’re just repeating other people’s arguments, you’re not going to trouble the upper end of the marking scale.
“You need to be making use of your higher cognitive abilities,” says Bryan Greetham, author in the bestselling Creating Better Essays. “You’re not simply showing understanding and recall, but analysing and synthesising ideas from different sources, then critically evaluating them. That’s where the marks lie.”
But what does critical evaluation actually seem like? In accordance with Fergien, it’s simple: you have to “poke holes” inside the texts you’re exploring and work out the ways in which “the authors aren’t perfect”.
“That is surely an intimidating idea,” he says. “You’re reading something which someone has probably spent their career studying, so how can you, as an undergraduate, critique it? “The answer is that you’re not going to discover some gaping flaw in Foucault’s Background of Se-xuality Volume 3, but you are likely to have the capacity to say: ‘There are issues with these certain accounts, is how you might resolve those’. That’s the main difference between a 60-something essay along with a 70-something essay.”
Once you’ve cast a vital eye within the texts, you ought to change it back by yourself arguments. This could feel like going against the grain of the things you’ve learned about writing academic essays, but it’s the real key to drawing out developed points.
“We’re taught with an young age to provide either side in the argument,” Fergien continues. “Then you can university and you’re told to provide one side of the argument and sustain it through the piece. But that’s not quite it: you should determine what the strongest objections for your own argument will be. Write them and try to react to them, so that you discover flaws in your reasoning. Every argument does have its limits and whenever you can attempt to explore those, the markers will frequently reward that.”
“I genuinely disagree,” says Fergien. “Those on the other part state that you can’t know who has written it, the things they had under consideration, what their biases are. However, if you’re just trying to get a handle on a subject, or you want to locate a scattering of secondary sources, it could be quite useful. I might only recommend it as a either a primer or even a final option, however it has its place.”
Reading lists can be a hindrance as well as a help. They must be the initial port of require guidance, nevertheless they aren’t to-do lists. A book may be listed, but that doesn’t mean you need to absorb everything. Fergien advises reading the introduction and conclusion and a relevant chapter but no more. “Otherwise you won’t actually get anything out of it because you’re seeking to plough the right path via a 300-page monograph,” he says. You also need to store the information you’re gathering in a helpful, systematic way. Bryan Greetham recommends an electronic update of his old-school “project box” approach.
“I possess a box to capture all those small things – a figure, a quotation, something interesting someone says – I’ll write them down and place them in the box therefore i don’t lose them. When I come to write, I have all of my material.” You can find a plenty of online offerings to help with this particular, like the project management app Scrivener and referencing tool Zotero, and, for that procrastinators, you will find productivity programmes like Self Control, which permit users to block certain websites off their computers for any set period.
“This is fairly very easy to do,” says Fergien. “Look in the citations used in the words, put them in Google Scholar, browse the abstracts and determine whether they’re worth reading. Then you can look on Google Scholar at other papers that have cited the task you’re talking about – some of those will be useful. But quality matters more than quantity.”
The previous trick of dealing with your introduction last is typical knowledge, nevertheless it seems few have really mastered the ability of writing a highly effective opener. “Introductions are the easiest things on the planet to get right and nobody does it properly,” Squirrel says. “It should be ‘Here is definitely the argument I will make, I will substantiate this with 3 or 4 strands of argumentation, drawing upon these theorists, who say this stuff, and i also will conclude with a few thoughts on this area and just how it may clarify our comprehension of this phenomenon.’ You must be able to encapsulate it in 100 words roughly. That’s literally it.”