Tim Fergien is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, and is teaching the very first time this year. When he was asked to deliver sessions on the art of essay-writing, he decided to publish an extensive (and brilliant) blog on the topic, offering wisdom gleaned from turning out two or three essays per week for his own undergraduate degree.
“There is really a knack into it,” he says. “It took me until my second or third year at Cambridge to operate it. No one tells you how to put together a disagreement and push yourself from the 60 to a 70, but when one to get grips with how you’re intended to construct them, it’s simple.”
The aim of How To Write An Essay Introduction is to show that one could think critically regarding the material at hand (whatever it might be). What this means is going beyond regurgitating what you’ve read; if you’re just repeating other people’s arguments, you’re not going to trouble top of the end from the marking scale.
“You must be using your higher cognitive abilities,” says Bryan Greetham, author in the bestselling Creating Better Essays. “You’re not just showing understanding and recall, but analysing and synthesising ideas from different sources, then critically evaluating them. That’s where the marks lie.”
But precisely what does critical evaluation actually seem like? Based on Fergien, it’s simple: you have to “poke holes” inside the texts you’re exploring and work out the ways that “the authors aren’t perfect”.
“That can be an intimidating idea,” he says. “You’re reading something which someone has probably spent their career studying, so how could you, being an undergraduate, critique it? “The response is that you’re not going to discover some gaping flaw in Foucault’s Background of Se-xuality Volume 3, but you are going to have the ability to say: ‘There are problems with these certain accounts, is the way you might resolve those’. That’s the real difference between a 60-something essay as well as a 70-something essay.”
Once you’ve cast a critical eye on the texts, you need to turn it back by yourself arguments. This may think that going from the grain of the items you’ve found out about writing academic essays, but it’s the key to drawing out developed points.
“We’re taught with an young age to present both sides from the argument,” Fergien continues. “Then you get to university and you’re told to provide one side in the argument and sustain it throughout the piece. But that’s not quite it: you should figure out what the strongest objections for your own argument could be. Write them and attempt to reply to them, which means you start seeing flaws within your reasoning. Every argument has 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 side say that you can’t know who has written it, the things they had under consideration, what their biases are. But when you’re just hoping to get a handle on the subject, or you want to look for a scattering of secondary sources, it may be quite useful. I would personally only recommend it as a either a primer or a last option, but it does have its place.”
Reading lists can be a hindrance and also a help. They should be the first port of require guidance, however they aren’t to-do lists. A novel could be listed, but that doesn’t mean you have to absorb everything. Fergien advises reading the introduction and conclusion and a relevant chapter but no more. “Otherwise you won’t actually get anything from it because you’re seeking to plough your path via a 300-page monograph,” he says. You also have to keep the information you’re gathering in a helpful, systematic way. Bryan Greetham recommends an electronic digital update of his old-school “project box” approach.
“I use 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 and so i don’t lose them. Then when I visit write, I actually have most of my material.” You will find a a lot of online offerings to assist with this particular, such as the project management app Scrivener and referencing tool Zotero, and, for that procrastinators, you can find productivity programmes like Self Control, which permit users to block certain websites using their computers for a set period.
“This is comparatively simple to do,” says Fergien. “Look in the citations found in the text, put them in Google Scholar, browse the abstracts and decide whether they’re worth reading. Then you could look on the search engines Scholar at other papers who have cited the job you’re writing about – a few of these will likely be useful. But quality matters greater than quantity.”
The old trick of working with your introduction last is normal knowledge, however it seems few have really mastered the skill of writing a powerful opener. “Introductions are definitely the easiest things in the world to have right and nobody will it properly,” Squirrel says. “It should be ‘Here is definitely the argument I will make, I am going to substantiate this with 3 or 4 strands of argumentation, drawing upon these theorists, who say these items, and that i will conclude with some ideas on this area and how it may clarify our understanding of this phenomenon.’ You should be able to encapsulate it in 100 words or so. That’s literally it.”