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Advice on academic writing || University of toronto


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Advice on academic writing || University of toronto

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Advice on academic writing || University of toronto

  1. 1. Contreras, Abigail LEEIV, ISFD 18 2017
  2. 2. GENERAL ADVICE ON ACADEMIC ESSAY-WRITING • An essay should have an argument. It should try to prove something by reasoning and evidence. • It should formulate a thesis or hypothesis. • The organization should be designed to present your argument clearly and persuasively.
  3. 3. ORGANIZING AN ESSAY The best time to think about how to organize your paper is during the pre-writing stage, not the writing or revising stage. A well-thought-out plan can save you from having to do a lot of reorganizing when the first draft is completed. Moreover, it allows you to pay more attention to sentence-level issues when you sit down to write your paper. When you begin planning, ask the following questions: What type of essay am I going to be writing? Does it belong to a specific genre? Knowing the patterns of reasoning associated with a genre can help you to structure your essay. Understanding genre can take you only so far. Most university essays are argumentative, and there is no set pattern for the shape of an argumentative essay. You must be ready to come up with whatever essay structure helps you to convince your reader of the validity of your position. In other words, you must be flexible, and you must rely on your wits. Each essay presents a fresh problem.
  4. 4. AVOIDING A COMMON PITFALL The structure of an essay should not be determined by the structure of its source material. If your essay is not well structured, then its overall weaknesses will show through in the individual paragraphs.
  5. 5. WHAT IS A REVERSEOUTLINE? When you have completed your first draft, and you think your paper can be better organized, consider using a reverse outline. Reverse outlines are simple to create. Just read through your essay, and every time you make a new point, summarize it in the margin. If the essay is reasonably well- organized, you should have one point in the margin for each paragraph, and your points read out in order should form a coherent argument.
  6. 6. HOW MUCH OF MYTIME SHOULD I PUT INTO PLANNING? Planning provides the following advantages: • It helps you to produce a logical and orderly argument that your readers can follow. • It helps you to produce an economical paper by allowing you to spot repetition. • It helps you to produce a thorough paper by making it easier for you to notice whether you have left anything out. • It makes drafting the paper easier by allowing you to concentrate on writing issues such as grammar, word choice, and clarity.
  7. 7. USING THESISSTATEMENTS When you are asked to write an essay that creates an argument, your reader will probably expect a clear statement of your position. Here are some characteristics of good thesis statements: • It makes a definite and limited assertion that needs to be explained and supported by further discussion. • It shows the emphasis and indicates the methodology of your argument. • It shows awareness of difficulties and disagreements.
  8. 8. INTRODUCTIONS AND CONCLUSIONS A good introduction should identify your topic, provide essential context, and indicate your particular focus in the essay. It also needs to engage your readers’ interest. A strong conclusion will provide a sense of closure to the essay while again placing your concepts in a somewhat wider context. It will also, in some instances, add a stimulus to further thought.
  9. 9. SOME GENERAL ADVICE ABOUT INTRODUCTIONS • Some students cannot begin writing the body of the essay until they feel they have the perfect introduction. Be aware of the dangers of sinking too much time into the introduction. Some of that time can be more usefully channeled into planning and writing. • You may be the kind of writer who writes an introduction first in order to explore your own thinking on the topic. If so, remember that you may at a later stage need to compress your introduction. • It can be fine to leave the writing of the introduction for a later stage in the essay-writing process. Some people write their introduction only after they have completed the rest of the essay. Others write the introduction first but rewrite it significantly in light of what they end up saying in the body of their paper.
  10. 10. SOME GENERAL ADVICE ABOUT INTRODUCTIONS • The introductions for most papers can be effectively written in one paragraph occupying half to three-quarters of the first page. Your introduction may be longer than that, and it may take more than one paragraph, but be sure you know why. The size of your introduction should bear some relationship to the length and complexity of your paper. • Get to the point as soon as possible. Generally, you want to raise your topic in your very first sentences. Avoid sweeping generalizations. • If your essay has a thesis, your thesis statement will typically appear at the end of your introduction, even though that is not a hard-and-fast rule. You may, for example, follow your thesis with a brief road map to your essay that sketches the basic structure of your argument. The longer the paper, the more useful a road map becomes.
  11. 11. SOME GENERAL ADVICE ABOUT CONCLUSIONS • A conclusion is not merely a summary of your points or a re-statement of your thesis. If you wish to summarize—and often you must—do so in fresh language. Remind the reader of how the evidence you’ve presented has contributed to your thesis. • The conclusion, like much of the rest of the paper, involves critical thinking. Reflect upon the significance of what you’ve written. Try to convey some closing thoughts about the larger implications of your argument. • Broaden your focus a bit at the end of the essay. A good last sentence leaves your reader with something to think about, a concept in some way illuminated by what you’ve written in the paper. • For most essays, one well-developed paragraph is sufficient for a conclusion. In some cases, a two-or-three paragraph conclusion may be appropriate. As with introductions, the length of the conclusion should reflect the length of the essay.
  12. 12. WHAT IS A PARAGRAPH? A paragraph is a series of related sentences developing a central idea, called the topic. Try to think about paragraphs in terms of thematic unity: a paragraph is a sentence or a group of sentences that supports one central, unified idea. Paragraphs add one idea at a time to your broader argument.
  13. 13. HOW DO I UNIFY MY IDEAS INA PARAGRAPH? Probably the most effective way to achieve paragraph unity is to express the central idea of the paragraph in a topic sentence. Topic sentences are similar to mini thesis statements. Like a thesis statement, a topic sentence has a specific main point. Whereas the thesis is the main point of the essay, the topic sentence is the main point of the paragraph. Like the thesis statement, a topic sentence has a unifying function. An essay is unified if all the paragraphs relate to the thesis, whereas a paragraph is unified if all the sentences relate to the topic sentence.
  14. 14. HOW DO I DEVELOP MY IDEAS IN A PARAGRAPH? Often, the body paragraph demonstrates and develops your topic sentence through an ordered, logical progression of ideas. There are a number of useful techniques for expanding on topic sentences and developing your ideas in a paragraph: • Illustration in a paragraph supports a general statement by means of examples, details, or relevant quotations (with your comments). • The definition paragraph does exactly what you would expect: it defines a term, often by drawing distinctions between the term and other related ones. The definition that you provide will often be specific to your subject area. • The analysis or classification paragraph develops a topic by distinguishing its component parts and discussing each of these parts separately.
  15. 15. HOW DO I DEVELOP MY IDEAS IN A PARAGRAPH? • A comparison or a contrast paragraph zeroes in on a key similarity or difference between, for instance, two sources, positions, or ideas. Decide whether to deal only with similarities or only with differences, or to cover both. Also, keep in mind that a single comparison can be spread out over two separate paragraphs. • A qualification paragraph acknowledges that what you previously asserted is not absolutely true or always applicable. • The process paragraph involves a straightforward step-by-step description. Process description often follows a chronological sequence. Very often, a single paragraph will develop by a combination of these methods.
  16. 16. HOW DO I MAKE MY IDEAS FLOW INA PARAGRAPH? The best overall strategy to enhance flow within a paragraph is to show connections. A variety of simple techniques can help you to clarify those connections and thereby communicate your intended logic. Deliberate repetition of key words helps. Reiterating the focus of your analysis by repeating key words or synonyms for key words enhances the overall flow of the paragraph. While the deliberate repetition of a key word is a useful tool, you generally want to avoid repeating an entire idea. Strategic use of pronouns such as it, they, and this keeps the focus on the ideas announced at the beginning of the paragraph—as long as they are clearly linked to specific nouns. Specialized linking words can also be powerful tools for pulling ideas together.
  17. 17. USING QUOTATIONS The focus of your essay should be on your understanding of the topic. If you include too much quotation in your essay, you will crowd out your own ideas. Consider quoting a passage from one of your sources if any of the following conditions holds: • The language of the passage is particularly elegant or powerful or memorable. • You wish to confirm the credibility of your argument by enlisting the support of an authority on your topic. • The passage is worthy of further analysis. • You wish to argue with someone else’s position in considerable detail.
  18. 18. USING TOPIC SENTENCES A topic sentence states the main point of a paragraph: it serves as a mini-thesis for the paragraph. When read in sequence, your essay’s topic sentences will provide a sketch of the essay’s argument. Thus topics sentences help protect your readers from confusion by guiding them through the argument. But topic sentences can also help you to improve your essay by making it easier for you to recognize gaps or weaknesses in your argument.
  19. 19. PARAPHRASE AND SUMMARY To paraphrase means to restate someone else’s ideas in your own language at roughly the same level of detail. To summarize means to reduce the most essential points of someone else’s work into a shorter form. Along with quotation, paraphrase and summary provide the main tools for integrating your sources into your papers. When choosing which to use, consider first your discipline and the type of writing in which you are engaged.
  20. 20. HOW DO I PARAPHRASE? Whenever you paraphrase, remember these two points: • You must provide a reference. • The paraphrase must be in your own words. You must do more than merely substitute phrases here and there. You must also create your own sentence structures.
  21. 21. BASIC PRINCIPLES THAT CAN HELP YOU TO PARAPHRASE MORE EFFECTIVELY • Refer explicitly to the author in your paraphrase. • Don’t just paraphrase. Analyze. • Not all of the details from the original passage need to be included in the paraphrase. • You don’t need to change every word. For the sake of clarity, keep essential terms the same .However, avoid borrowing entire phrases (unless they are part of the discourse of your field).
  22. 22. HOW DO I SUMMARIZE? Summary moves much further than paraphrase from point-by-point translation. When you summarize a passage, you need first to absorb the meaning and then to capture in your own words the most important elements from the original passage. A summary is necessarily shorter than a paraphrase.
  23. 23. BIBLIOGRAPHY • Prof. C. A. Silber.(n.d). “Some General Advice on Academic Essay-Writing “from University of Toronto website: • Jerry Plotnick. (n.d). “Organizing an Essay” from University of Toronto website: • Margaret Procter. (n.d). “Using Thesis Statements” from University of Toronto website: • Leora Freedman and Jerry Plotnick. (n.d). “Introductions and Conclusions” from University of Toronto website:
  24. 24. BIBLIOGRAPHY • Margaret Procter, Writing Support, and Vikki Visvis. (n.d). “Paragraphs” from University of Toronto website: • Jerry Plotnick. (n.d). “Using Quotations” from University of Toronto website: • Jenny Hall and Jerry Plotnick. (n.d). “Using Topic Sentences” from University of Toronto website: • Jerry Plotnick. (n.d). “Paraphrase and Summary” from University of Toronto website: