How to Write an Effective Essay at Postgraduate Level
The first step that I will undertake will be the identification and development of my topic. This will entail posing some research questions that will guide me during the process of searching relevant information. Since I am interested in writing an essay on “Effective Essay Writing at Postgraduate Level”, my research question will be “how do you write an effective essay at postgraduate level?” This will also involve identifying keywords or concepts. In this topic keywords include “essay writing”, “effective essay writing”, “essay writing at postgraduate level” and “effective essay writing at postgraduate level”. Table 1 below illustrates some of the concepts and keywords that will be used for searching relevant information for an essay on “Effective Essay Writing at Postgraduate Level”.
Table 1: concepts and keywords
|Essay writing||Prose writing, academic writing|
|Postgraduate level||Masters, doctorate, post-doctorate, graduate|
|Effective essay writing||Good essay, best essay, good academic essay,|
The concepts will be combined using Boolean operators such as “AND”, “OR”, and “NOT”. The Boolean operator “AND” will be used to narrow down and locate all articles or books that have all search terms. For instance, masters AND doctorate AND post-doctorate will search for articles or books with all these terms. The Boolean operator “OR” will be used to broaden the search and locate articles or books that have any of the items searched. For example, masters OR doctorate OR post-doctorate OR graduate will return results of articles or books with any of the four terms. The Boolean operator “NOT” will be used to exclude some items from the search. For example, postgraduate NOT undergraduate will exclude articles with undergraduate and return results with post-graduate.
The second step that I will undertake will entail finding background information on my topic of interest. I will look for my keywords in general encyclopedias such as Britannica Online; dictionaries; and course textbook. This will enable me get some essential overview information on the topic. In order to set the context of my essay, I will read the articles that I get in the encyclopedias. I will also note any relevant articles cited in the encyclopedia’s articles. Moreover, I will try to read books and other reserve readings in the library to get relevant background information on my topic of interest.
In order to find relevant books, I will use catalogs. I will connect to library catalogs and search for my keywords identified above in the following order “essay writing”, “effective essay writing”, “essay writing at postgraduate level” and “effective essay writing at postgraduate level”. This will enable me get books covering the essay writing topics broadly and then narrow down my search to specifics in this case “effective essay writing at postgraduate level”. I will use the books and annual reviews to obtain additional material by scanning the bibliographies provided. During the scanning I will identify articles with titles that cover my topic of interest.
The next step will involve getting periodical articles. To get the articles I will use indexes and abstracts. I will use both electronic and print indexes and abstracts. To obtain the best indexes and abstracts I will use those indexes and abstracts which cover effective writing. I will use electronic resources to access full text articles on essay writing. I will also be using internet resources to write my essay on “Effective Essay Writing at Postgraduate Level”. Thus, I will try to access databases and electronic journals on my subject of interest.
To ensure that the resources I will be using are reliable, credible and useful, I will evaluate them critically. This will involve comparing the information I obtain from these resources with the information found in books and journals. I will evaluate the relevancy of the materials to my topic. I will also consider the date of publication to ensure that it is recent. During evaluation process, I will also evaluate the author’s qualification in terms of experiences and educational background. Moreover, I will scrutinize the purpose of the author. I will also seek to establish the publisher of the article and whether the article is scholarly or popular. I will mainly seek to use scholarly articles since they are more credible, reliable and valid than popular articles. I will then embark on writing, editing and formatting my essay.
List of Activities and Project Plan
Table 2 provides the plan that I will use to write an essay on “effective essay writing at postgraduate level”.
|Critical analysis of the essay topic||Develop a research question
Identify keywords and concepts
Formulate thesis statement
|Research and reference compilation||Read main texts covering the topic and making notes.
Scan through the bibliographies of the main text to discover other relevant materials and searching for them.
Further reading and note-taking as I prepare reference list based on the quotes noted.
Ensure the referencing style I use adheres to what is required by the school
|Prepare an outline for my essay||Structure material gathered on whether they will be used in the introduction or the body of the essay.
Determine what will be covered in each paragraph.
Determine supportive material for each main idea in each paragraph
Determine how I will conclude my essay.
|Plan my reference list||Ensure that each cited material is well referenced in the bibliography|
|Write and edit my essay||Use the outline to write the introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion|
|Write bibliography||Compile bibliography as I write the essay|
The analysis of the topic will enable me develop a precise research question which will be essential during the research stage. In addition, it will enable me identify keywords to aid me during information search on my topic. The identified question will help me formulate a thesis statement after gathering relevant information for writing my essay. All these activities are essential in providing me with an approach that I need to construct an effective essay.
The next activity will be research and compilation of reference list. This will entail reading main texts from books and general sources such as articles in encyclopedias that are related to my topic. This will give me broad information about my topic. From the articles in these sources I will scan through their bibliographies to identify articles which are more related to my topic. This will enable me widen my research as I narrow down materials that are more relevant to my research. To ensure that I gather the most important information to use in my essay writing I will be taking notes and compiling the reference list based on the sources of the information. To ensure that I adhere to the Oxford style of referencing, I will be recording all information needed to compile the final bibliography for my essay.
Once I complete gathering important information that can enable me write a good essay, I will prepare an outline for my essay. The outline will consist of an introduction, main body and a conclusion. I will introduce my topic in the introduction section by stating why it is important to write on my topic “Effective Essay Writing at Postgraduate Level”. I will also state why the topic is important to my audience and why I am writing about it. I will close my introduction paragraph by stating the thesis statement of my essay. This will be followed by body paragraphs which will be structured in the following ways. The first sentence of each body paragraph will state the main idea which supports my thesis statement. This will be followed by specific detail about the idea. Each body paragraph will end with logical reasoning that relates the supporting idea to the thesis statement. Once I am done with all body paragraphs that support my thesis statement, I will write body paragraphs which oppose to the thesis statement. These paragraphs will begin with topic sentence followed by evidence that support the topic sentence. Details about the evidence will then be provided. Finally, I will provide logical reasoning that connects the provided evidence to the counterargument. This will then be followed by a conclusion which will provide a summary of all issues covered in the essay.
The final stage of my essay will be writing a bibliography. As I will be writing my essay, I will take note of all those sources I use from the notes taken during information search. This will ensure that all information that I cite in-text is reflected in the bibliography. This implies that I will be compiling my bibliography as I construct my essay. To ensure my essay is well written I will proofread to edit any grammar or typographical errors.
Essay Writing at Postgraduate Level
The purpose of an essay is to provide readers with evidence that support an idea. To attain this, an academic essay has three important features. First, an academic essay has a thesis statement which provides answers to the question at hand. Second, the essay tries to discuss something through logical reasoning and provision of evidence. Finally, an academic essay contains relevant illustrations to support the argument and has information from other sources that are credible. While essays at high school are often descriptive in nature, essays at postgraduate are analytical in nature. This essay explores ways of writing an effective essay at postgraduate level.
The first step toward writing an effective essay at postgraduate level is a careful examination of the question. This step allows a person to identify keywords and concepts in the question. It is advisable to pay particular attention to terms such as “compare”, “contrast”, “analyze”, “discuss” and “evaluate. These words are important in essay writing because they often provide the writer with the approach to be followed when writing the essay. For instance, a term such as “compare” requires the writer to demonstrate similarities and differences between the objects. This implies that examination of the question provides clarity about the topic and hence enables the writer to write an effective essay at postgraduate level.
The second step in effective essay writing at postgraduate level is the question analysis. This entails breaking down the topic into subcomponents. In our case the question is “How to write an effective essay at postgraduate level”. This question was broken into characteristics of an effectively written question and steps followed to ensure an effective essay is written. It is apparent that the introduction of this essay has dwelt on the features of a well written essay that answers the first component of the question while the body is answering the second component of the question. Therefore, breaking down the topic provides the writer with the structure to be followed when writing an essay.
The third step is the organization of the subcomponents to form an essay plan (outline). This is important in giving the essay a coherent and logical structure. For instance, our essay began by outlining the key features of an essay followed by the steps that can help in writing an effective essay. It is worthy noting that the plan is essential during research process to guide the writer on what to read, take notes and write. In addition, the outline is essential when determining which points are central to answering the question and which ones are peripheral. Therefore, for one to write an effective essay he/she needs an outline to guide him/her during information search and writing process.
The next step is information search. Based on the outline one needs to brainstorm what information best fits each part of the essay. This acts as a guide during information search process. It is important to note that one ought to read widely in order to be able to write a good essay. This allows one to evaluate the worthiness of materials at hand and place their themes into the topic context. The reading should start with general readings and narrow down to specific articles that are related to the writer’s topic. As the writer reads, he/she need to take notes based on the outline and keep details of the articles referred to. This is important for the writing stage where the writer will need the notes to write the essay and compile a bibliography. Therefore, to write an effective essay at graduate level one need to read widely, take notes and keep reference information about the sources used.
The next step is writing the essay. The essay should be written in a coherent and logical manner. In addition, the essay needs to carefully document, cogently argue and to clearly express the writer’s case. To attain this, the writer needs to introduce his/her topic and to summarise the general argument or theme of the essay in the introduction. The argument should then be presented in the body paragraphs providing supporting ideas and associated evidence. Finally the writer needs to provide a conclusion which summarises key points in the essay and their implications. The reference material collected should be incorporated in the essay in the form of either direct quotation or paraphrased form. This should be accompanied by correct in-text citation and compilation of a bibliography. Therefore, to ensure coherent, conciseness and clarity of the essay, the writer needs to have an introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion that incorporates information gathered during information search stage.
The final stage is formatting, revising and editing of the essay. This ensures that common grammar and typographical errors are corrected. In addition, it ensures that the essay is well presented.
In conclusion, effective essay writing at postgraduate level involves various interrelated steps. The process begins with careful examination of the question followed by question analysis. The next step is the construction of the essay outline. The outline is then used to search for information. The information gathered is utilized in the writing of the essay. Finally the essay is formatted, revised, and edited.
To large extent my strategy was effective. The first step which required me to identify and develop my topic was useful when I was searching for information to write my essay. The keywords and concepts identified at this stage helped me access relevant information especially when I wanted to access internet resources. Just like Kisting argue, the development of a thesis statement was not easy in my case because the question was much of a descriptive essay than an analytical essay. Therefore I just had to state my thesis bluntly. Even though the thesis developed for my essay was not analytical in nature it effectively guided me throughout information search and the writing of my essay. Therefore, one of the most important lessons that I learnt in this exercise was that a thesis statement is essential for writing an effective essay since it acts as guide for information search and the final writing of the essay.
The step concerning background information search was not that useful to me. Despite spending much time in looking at general textbooks and encyclopedias, I did not get much information that was related to my topic. I therefore had to rely much on internet sources to access information that was relevant to my topic. However, it must be noted that the knowledge I gained on background information search concerning how to expand material search was useful to me. It enabled me look at the bibliographies of articles and hence to narrow down my search. Catalogs were useful when I was searching for books with articles related to my topic. The skills pertaining information search was useful since it enabled me to begin from broad perspective of my topic and then narrow down the search.
My strategy also required me to evaluate my sources. This was useful on the choice of sources that I employed in writing my essay. Most of the sources that I used were reliable and credible because they included books, journal articles and works published by universities. Moreover, the authors had experiences and educational background on writing essays.
My project plan was also effective in guiding during the essay writing process. However, I realized that time management is not easy when preparing to write an essay. For instance, I found out that I had allocated much time to the critical analysis of the topic. Therefore, I had to use the remaining for the next step of collecting research materials. Moreover, I realized that research and reference compilation consumes almost eighty percent of the time needed to write an effective essay. I spend much time reading texts and making notes. Sometimes I was almost overcome by the temptation of reading everything about my topic but I came to realize that the more I read the more I discovered new articles that covered my topic. I therefore realized that one ought to be careful and be selective in reading to avoid wasting much time. Just as discussed under my project plan the information search stage was important in defining my final essay. This is because it helped me write an outline for my essay, plan my reference list and write my final essay. I also discovered that less time is spent on writing the final essay ones one has an outline and the necessary information. In conclusion, a writing strategy and project plan are essential tools for writing an effective essay.