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All what you need to know about writing Academic essay

Academic Writing

Good academic writing is clearly structured. It must have a beginning, middle and an end. In essays, reports, dissertations and presentations, these parts are:

  • Introduction

  • Main body

  • Conclusion

1- Introductions are usually less than 10% of the essay.

There are two main sections, a general part, and an organising part, sometimes called a thesis statement, though it has other names too.

The general part is just that, something general about the overall subject. There are various ways to build up this part, for example referring to key words in the title, using a quote or a statistic. You could also give some background or give a definition, though these might be better as your first body paragraphs, depending on the length of your essay. Next, the organising part tells your reader what your particular approach will be, so describes the main parts of your essay.

2- Body part of the essay, which is about 85% of the total.

The content is a combination of your reading and your comments/analysis, so the quality depends on the quality of your reading and note taking. The body is made up of several paragraphs which have the following; a topic sentence, details and proof, sometimes a concluding sentence, and sometimes a linking sentence.

Starting with the last, a linking sentence can open a paragraph by referring back to previous paragraphs, and can make the essay flow better. A topic sentence is more important; it introduces the main theme of the whole paragraph, so should come early on and should be relevant to the essay title. It often uses something called an abstract noun.

You will then develop this main theme with details and proof, so you will often include quotes and paraphrases, and references to say where you found this research. A concluding sentence can be added every few paragraphs to remind the reader why that section is directly relevant to the title. It often uses similar words to the title to make this link clear.

One word of advice; don’t forget to include your own analysis throughout, as an essay is your opinion based on research, not just a description of other people’s research.

3- Conclusion is like introductions, conclusions are only about 10% of your essay.

You often, but not always, start with a very brief response to the title. Then you summarise your whole essay, and this in fact is most of the conclusion. In terms of content, this part is quite similar to the organising part of the introduction, but often more opinionated. It should really show your reader how all the sections of your essay are relevant to the title. The last, very brief, part of the conclusion is a future reference or suggestion, something to slowly wind down and give your reader something to think about.

Some words of advice; don’t start putting in new information or introducing new arguments into the conclusion; don’t think this is the only place where you put your opinion. Your opinion should be throughout the essay; it is reflected in the information you choose to include; it is in your analysis of this information, for example if it is useful, accurate, out-of-date etc.; it is in the conclusions you draw from this information.

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