Film and Television Studies it may be useful to begin by suggesting that an essay is just as much of a performance and production as stageplays, films and videos are. The same level of attention needs to be given to ‘production values’, to narrative structure and the needs of the ‘audience’. You should aim to get your essays as close to publishable status as you can. Similarly the task of writing an academic essay is no less a ‘creative’ enterprise, and there is plenty of scope for variations in approach. General approaches
The first rule concerning how students should set about writing academic essays is that there are no general rules, since what works well for one writer may not suit another person (or another kind of essay).
You may have been told in school that ‘you should always begin with a plan’ or that ‘you should develop your essay through successive drafts’, but even such general guidelines suit only some people, some of the time, and may even be counter-productive for others. You need to try to find approaches which work for you – and which earn you the grades you deserve. Several general strategies have been identified amongst effective writers.
These can be broadly characterized as follows. Do you recognize yourself in any of these descriptions? The Watercolourist: A few people seem to be habitually able, after appropriate reading and reflection, to dash off an entire and effective essay with minimal editing. Students need to learn to do this for exams, of course. People who are good at this are lucky, but: it is a strategy which works well only for a small minority; it might not work with every essay; and perhaps some of these writers could sometimes produce better essays if they planned and/or revised their essays more.
The World of Work There are many types of jobs in the world. People work for various reasons. Many people enjoy their careers. Some people are dissatisfied with their jobs, but continue to work to support themselves and their family. My family has various types of jobs; ranging from government jobs to working in the steel mill. My mom is a probation officer. She enjoys her job because she works ...
Re-reading what you have written remains essential – at least to avoid careless slips. You may like to show what you have written to a friend to read with a critical eye. The Architect: Many people make extensive use of the very practical strategy of developing a workable plan, executing that plan and then minimally editing what they’ve written. If you have a very clear idea of what you want to write this can be an effective use of limited time and if it suits you or your task, that’s fine. However, essays written in this way can sometimes feel rather lifeless: try to exhibit some enthusiasm for your subject!
Some users of this strategy might at least occasionally gain from more radical and extensive reworking of their ideas on paper. The Bricklayer: With or without a plan, some writers develop their essays by starting at the beginning and polishing each ‘chunk’ of text (usually a sentence or a paragraph) before moving onto the next. When they reach the end they typically edit very little. If this strategy works for you, use it. The greatest disadvantage is that it’s slow: it takes a long while to write an essay like this. And it is possible that sometimes more planning and/or reorganization might help to improve your essays.
The structural organization of your essay, in particular, can suffer. Re-read what you have written with this in mind. You are welcome to show your essay to someone else who may make helpful comments before you submit it to your tutor. The Oil Painter: This approach involves sorting out your ideas in the act of writing with very little conscious planning. Those who write like this jot down lots of ideas and rework them gradually through major revision and reorganization into an essay. People who habitually write like this will agree with and understand the writer who said: ‘How do I know what I think until I see what I say? , and they may add – ‘… or until I’ve revised it’. People who feel that writing is a way of thinking for them may make effective use of this approach. It can be useful as a way of generating initial ideas and dealing with the more manageable points within an essay before you have a clear picture of the whole issue (the links between such points can come later).
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However, one disadvantage is that it is very slow (and essays may tend to feel ‘unfinished’ even to the writer).
‘Oil-Painters’ may also tend to neglect the convenience of the reader in making sense of what they have written.
Re-read what you have written with critical readers in mind: show your draft to someone else before submission if you wish. Even if you do not plan in advance the essay should always be worked up into a coherent whole. Sometimes more planning and/or less revision may also be possible and appropriate. Most students will find it useful to draw on more than one of these approaches, depending on the nature of the writing task (though some approaches may not suit you at all).
The best guides to using an unfamiliar approach are probably other people you know who already use this approach effectively.
Relevance and coherence So much for general approaches to writing – now for issues more specific to student essays. To tutors, probably the most important shortcomings in students’ essays are when they include material which is not relevant to the specific question set, or even worse, when they are not coherent. Regarding relevance – if you don’t understand the question or its scope (what it’s meant to include and what it is not meant to include), ask your tutor for advice on the specific essay title rather than write irrelevant waffle.
Irrelevant points will gain no marks at all: tutors want your essays to be closely ‘focused’ on the precise topic of the assignment. Many people find that it helps them to focus if they begin by assembling all their sources and then ‘brainstorming’ – generating a list of all the relevant points they can think of (not necessarily at this stage in any particular order).
You can work this list into a more coherent form later (starting by grouping related points together).
Question Paper Design SA 2 English Communicative Classes IX & X Code No. 101 The design of the question papers in English Communicative for classes IX & X has undergone a few changes. They are as under: Section A –Reading: 20 marks (Question 1-4) In the existing scheme of the question paper Students answer questions based on four unseen passages carrying five marks each –all the ...
As you plan, write, re-read or revise your essay, ask yourself whether each point is clearly relevant and whether you have omitted any relevant points.
Sometimes you may merely need to make the relevance of a point clearer – its relevance may not be immediately obvious to a reader. By all means ask a friend – ‘Have I left out anything important? ’. All parts of the set assignment must be covered (note in particular where a question has more than one part).
All of the content must be relevant to the set question and the relevance of each point must be clearly established. Get to the topic immediately: long introductions which are not closely related to the exact topic are a waste of space.
Waffle, in particular, is guaranteed to lose marks. Make sure that you cover all of the key issues but on the other hand don’t try to cover too much territory. If space limits your focus, explain what you are not trying to cover. Make up for this in the detail which you go into about the aspects that you are covering. Coherence has two dimensions: whether your text makes sense to a reader and whether it ‘flows’ and holds together well (cohesion).
With respect to sense, re-read your essay with the eye of a critical reader.
And again, if you like, ask someone else to check it for sense – from this point of view it may be an advantage if they aren’t doing the same assignment because they are more likely to need what you write to be very clear and explicit. On the other hand, don’t write about a topic as if the tutor who is going to read your essay knows nothing about it: write in a way that assumes familiarity with the issues. You may be new to the issues, but your tutor is not: what you must demonstrate to your tutor in your essay is that you have some understanding of the issues.
When you make a point, try to think of some good examples to illustrate it, and discuss these to show your understanding. As for cohesion, some commentators say that essays should ‘tell a story’ in the sense that you should ‘set the scene’ (and grab the reader’s attention) at the start, then try to lead the reader as smoothly as possible from point to point, working up to some genuine conclusions at the end. Not many of us can write like this at the first attempt, but an essay can be gradually edited into this form. Check in particular that there are no sudden jumps from one point to another. Use of material in different assignments
In many instances, students cringe when the words “reading” and “school” are said concurrently. Fear immediately arises in most children at the sound of their teacher’s announcement that they will be reading a book in class. There are two main reasons why children dread a reading assignment: knowing that they must answer tedious questions and knowing it might be a ...
Occasionally you may encounter what may seem to be virtually the same assignment in different modules or courses in which you are involved within the same institution. Some students might be tempted to minimise their workload by undertaking both of them. If you ever feel tempted to do so, bear these general observations in mind. Your lecturers are educators and they are trying to teach you something about their subject. For understandable reasons they would be shocked if they discovered that you had presented essentially the same material for more than one assignment inside or outside a module.
There might even be serious institutional consequences in such instances. Most lecturers would probably go along with the following general advice. You may draw on similar resources for two different assignments but at your own risk. You may only do so where the questions and angles expected are different (where they are not and you don’t have a choice of assignments you should alert the relevant lecturers).
Usually, even where topic areas are similar the questions, assumptions and approaches required are less so.
We mark for relevance and therefore you should ensure that the way that the material is used relates very closely indeed to the specific question asked. It should also indicate that you have understood and are applying relevant concepts learnt within that module. You must make the relevance of all material used explicit. If the marker can’t see why some of your material is relevant to the question set then they will ignore such material and it’s therefore a waste of space. You need to show that your mind is in gear and that you are aware of what the relevance is.
The best assignment invariably show clearly that the student knows what’s relevant to the question and what isn’t. Students who use vaguely-related material but don’t make the relevance clear in the way they handle it are doing what has been called ‘knowledge telling’ (this is common in exams where you blank out and you may feel forced to spew out anything even vaguely relevant without really explaining why it is).
... or quotation. (a) Summary: You reduce a source text to its main point and aspects, using your own words but sometimes including quoted words or ... (Smith’s emphasis). (3) To add or change a word in a quotation to make it ﬁt into the grammar of your own ... views. Intermittent, casual, sloppy, or vague citing raises suspicion and makes your readers skeptical; ready and consistent citing puts your ...
What we want – and what we get from those who do well – is ‘knowledge transformation’ – you do something with the material that indicates you have a mind and you know how to use it.
Don’t forget that you pass a sign saying ‘university’ as you come in! So, yes, you may in some cases use some of the same books in two assignments (although be careful).
Yes, you may employ some concepts, theories and findings from other modules (though bear in mind that different modules involve different priorities, approaches and so on and you must work within the general framework of the module concerned).
But you must always avoid submitting two assignments with substantial overlaps in content. Many students will decide that it’s safer to avoid assignments which are too similar in topic. Use of sources
You are expected to show evidence in your essay of having read widely but also critically. The cardinal sin in academia is plagiarism, which we may define as the presentation as one’s own of ideas or phraseology knowingly derived from other writers. For students, there are very serious penalties for this: it may be treated as an act of fraud. One may, of course, make use of the ideas of others, since as one wit has observed, ‘when you take stuff from one writer, it’s plagiarism; but when you take it from many writers, it’s research’! However, academic writing does require such ‘borrowed’ ideas to be formally acknowledged.
Lectures, lecture notes and general student textbooks should not be used in the references: these are merely a guide to study. You are welcome to read essays by other students but do not cite them. Where sources are specified for the assignment, focus on these but go beyond them. Use bibliographic searches to extend your reading. Your essays need to demonstrate not only that you’ve read widely but that you can think for yourself. Many essays will offer some scope for drawing in at least a modest way on your own personal experience (often for everyday examples of the issue under discussion).
This does not mean that you should present your personal observations as if they had greater authority than the research evidence of experienced researchers in the field, of course. However, you may perhaps be able to show that you are aware of the work of other experienced researchers whose findings may differ. You may sometimes be able to refer to published criticisms of the work from textbook commentaries on the topic (even with basic textbooks try to find several rather than relying on one alone).
The most striking feature of this short story is the way in which it is told. It is not a story in the classical sense with an introduction, a development of the story and an end, but we just get some time in the life of two people, as if it were just a piece of a film where we have a lot to deduce, This story doesn't give everything done for the reader, we only see the surface of what is going ...
You should seek to present a well-organized synthesis of relevant research in the field in which you show that you are at least aware of questions which are still open. Nobody will expect you in a student essay to extend the boundaries of knowledge in the field but they will expect you to show that you can reflect critically on what you have learned. One way in which you may do so is by showing appropriate caution in interpreting the available evidence: in particular, do not over-generalize from limited evidence or offer monocausal models of complex social and psychological phenomena. Show that you are aware of the ‘ifs… ’ and ‘buts… . And do not write in the polemical style of the soap-box or tabloid editorial! If you really need to use the exact words of a source, you must put the words used within inverted commas and you must cite your source. In the main body of the essay you should include a reference at the end of the quotation thus: (Chandler 1995: p. 10).
Secondary references should be cited thus: (Smith 1990 cited in Jones 1999, p. 62).
Unless otherwise instructed, reference films within the text thus: Cruising (Friedkin 1980).
In the references listed (alphabetically) at the end you should include the full source details of all items cited within the text.
We prefer the style used at the end of this document (don’t just imitate whatever referencing style your various sources or other departments in the university happen to use).
Avoid footnotes and numbered references. Do not use italics to indicate quotes. If you include a long quotation (of four lines or more) you should indent it from the left-hand margin (in which case you should drop the inverted commas).
You should avoid using too many quotations, however: it may give the impression that you have no ideas of your own and that you accept too uncritically what others have said on the topic.
If you are discussing, for instance, how people feel about something, direct quotations may be appropriate in social science essays. But someone else’s bald assertion is certainly not to be taken as adequate evidence of the truth of what they are saying: just because the statement appears in print doesn’t of itself make it any more reliable than remarks in the pub! You should consider the adequacy of your source as evidence. Normally, you should use a direct quotation only when the writer has put the point particularly well, and generally a paraphrase is preferable.
However, note that the source of any original ideas expressed in this way must still be given. If you find that you seem to be too dependent on the views and/or words of your sources note that it helps if you use several sources. Since complete agreement between different commentators is rare, it may be easier to find words of your own to express the issues. Also, it may perhaps help you to use your own words if you first make relevant notes on your sources and then rely on your notes rather than too closely on the sources themselves (though don’t forget to record full details of any direct quotations you make).
Note: please do not make marks on library copies of the books you consult. Presentation Present your essay or mini-dissertation in as tidy and well-organized a way as you can. ‘Signpost’ the structure of your text for the reader-for instance, by including section heads (in bold).
Occasional lists of short items can help to break up the text: use plain ‘bullets’ for such lists unless there is a good reason to number them. You are advised to use a word processor with a good-quality printer (not pale printouts) since there is a known ‘halo- effect’ in grading word-processed as opposed to handwritten essays.
The use of a word processor also enables you to revise your work more easily and to produce additional copies for security or circulation (always keep a copy on disk).
You should double-space your text and use wide margins so that tutors have space to comment. The text should be printed clearly in black (except where colour is needed for illustrations).
Choose a font size of 12-13 points, and avoid san-serif fonts (Univers, Arial, Helvetica etc. ) since these are hard to read in large blocks of text; serif fonts (such as Times Roman) are more readable in bulk.
Use italics only for occasional emphasis and for the titles of books, journals, newspapers, television programmes etc. Do not use underlining (an old typewriter convention).
Check that you have indented long quotations (and dropped the inverted commas for these).
Check that you have included the author, date of publication and page numbers immediately after quotations in the main body of the text and full references at the end. And check that you have included your alphabetical list of references, in the preferred form, at the end. The essay pages should all be numbered.
Do not forget to put at the top of the essay your name, the date, the name and code of the module and the module tutor’s name. Copy-edit your text (e. g. for spelling, grammar and style) as carefully as is expected for published work. Essays should be submitted before the deadline to the departmental office in a transparent folder or sleeve (for protection) but don’t slow up marking by putting each separate sheet of your essay into a transparent cover. Your argument may be considerably strengthened by your inclusion of appropriate illustrations. Ask yourself how you could usefully visualise some of the key concepts which you are exploring.
Carefully thought-out diagrams can sometimes help to make a point. If your topic is a visual one (e. g. film, television, the internet) it is particularly important to consider using carefully selected illustrations (such as screenshots).
These should never be purely decorative: they should be discussed in appropriate detail in the text. Indeed, doing so is often a very productive way to anchor your argument in concrete details. The internet is a very useful source for such illustrations – images can be downloaded and then pasted into Word documents.
Note that you should at the very least record their sources and include full details of these in your text. Depending on your topic it may also be useful to take some photographs with a stills camera. If you are lucky enough to have access to a digital camera you can of course upload these into your document. The incorporation of images which are already in print can best be accomplished by using a scanner (once again pasting the image files into your text).
Cropping may be used to good effect, focusing the reader’s attention on key details.
All illustrations must be properly labelled (e. g. Fig. 1: Close-up of Coca-Cola bottle).
If the text is to be published in any form it is of course essential to obtain copyright permission for any images which you reproduce. Any material not used in the essay but useful to the reader can usually be provided as an Appendix, although in many universities there may be no obligation on the marker to read or mark such Appendices since they are normally regarded as outside the word count. Nevertheless, proper Appendices can reflect a professional approach and are not usually discouraged.
Check with your own tutors, but it is not normally necessary to include as Appendices such material as full transcripts of interviews or completed survey sheets. However, where surveys or questionnaires have been employed you should normally provide a copy of the questions or a blank form as an Appendix. You are encouraged to include in the main body of your text brief extracts or quotations from surveys, interviews or open-ended responses from questionnaires you have conducted. Once again, such items should be used to make specific points which contribute to your argument.
You are also strongly encouraged to include within the main text any charts, tables etc. to which you directly refer (as Figure 1 etc. ).
As noted already, any such Figures must be directly commented on in the text and be used to make points which contribute to your argument. Where these are merely extracts from or summaries of a fuller chart you can relegate the full chart or table to an Appendix. If you make any statistical claims, you must include the relevant raw data in order for the marker to verify such claims by repeating your statistical procedures on the original data.
For further information on the presentation of your own research data see the separate notes on Dissertations at http://www. aber. ac. uk/media/Modules/dissertation. html#K. Usage and style Always check your spelling, punctuation and grammar very carefully. If you use a word processor you can use the spelling checker (but don’t rely on it to suggest appropriate corrections to uncommon words or names).
Check in particular the spelling of all the key words associated with the topic (especially those used in the question! , and the names of your published sources. Where there are optional spellings (e. g. -ise/-ize endings), be consistent. As for punctuation, pay particular attention to the use of the apostrophe (both for abbreviation and possession).
Note especially that it’s means only it is. If you are not sure how to use apostrophes correctly don’t just sprinkle them around hopefully or leave them out completely: consult a friend who knows or an appropriate reference book. Accuracy in spelling and punctuation is also known to have a ‘halo-effect’ when essays are graded.
If you are not writing in your mother-tongue or if you know or suspect that you are dyslexic you should consult a support unit such as our own Language and Learning Centre. Traditionally, academic essays avoided references to the author as ‘I’. Although this convention is in the process of change it would be wise to check on your own tutor’s attitude to this issue. However, most tutors are likely to encourage you to avoid the traditional academic convention of the passive voice (e. g. ‘a survey was carried out… ’) in favour of an active form (e. g. Roger Brown carried out a survey… ’).
On the other hand, don’t write essays in a very casual conversational style. It is sometimes useful to define any key terms early on in your essay. In such cases many students simply quote the definitions found in non-specialist dictionaries. This is usually unwise – especially where academics use such terms in ways which differ from their everyday usage (as they often do).
If you need a working definition refer to a relevant specialist academic dictionary. For instance, see my own glossary of terms used in semiotics. Reference Formats
In-text references to sources should be at the end of sentences in this form: (Smith 1990: 25-9), omitting page numbers when the reference is to on-line sources. Note the avoidance of ‘page’, ‘p. ‘ or ‘pp. ‘ here. You are normally expected to include a list of references at the end of your text. These are works actually cited in the main body of the text (unlike a bibliography).
All of the in-text citations must appear in this list. Follow the following format closely unless otherwise specified (noting in particular that the titles of books and journals should always be in italics).