The following are some basic essay writing hints. They are presented as a guide only. Other approaches and/or structures can be equally as effective, or even better!
Introduction = Paragraph 1
Define the question (as you interpret it).
Define any important terms needed to understand the question.
Specify your position/stance.
List the broad ideas that you will use to give support to you position.
Do not be very long.
Body = Paragraph 2, 3, 4, ….n
Each paragraph (or sequence of paragraphs) picks up one of the main ideas listed in the introduction.
Define and/or describe the important features of the idea.
Provide an example of how that idea operates in practice.
Perhaps a Para break
Perhaps provide an example of how computer technology is associated with use of that idea.
Identify any limitations and/or weaknesses in the idea.
Provide an example of when use of the idea breaks down.
Argue for the overall benefits of the idea…provided that it is used appropriately.
Next idea from introduction, then do as above.
……continue until all ideas of argument are exhausted.
Conclusion = Last paragraph
Restate your position.
Specify again the main points that support your position.
Indicate how justified your position is.
Do not be very long.
1. In sequencing the ideas in the essay, seek a structure that enables you to build a logical argument.
2. Other structures are also valid and viable. The above is just an example.
If you read through your essay only looking at the first and last sentence of each paragraph, then the entire essay should still make sense and flow.
Be succinct - Avoid padding!
Keep to the point - Avoid side tracks!
Do your best to make it readable!
Check for excessively long sentences. - break them into two.
Check for excessively long paragraphs - break them into two.
Check for poor linking of idea – insert a clear link.
Check for material that does not say what you mean – rewrite it so that it does.
Check for repeated material and ideas – rewrite so that each is addressed once, but thoroughly.
Make sure to omit technical jargon unless it has first been defined.
Make sure to omit offensive or sexist language.
Make sure to omit slang or loose language.
NEVER plagiarise (present someone else's words or ideas to be your own). This is simple to fix – just specify who wrote them and where they came from (this is referencing, see section below).
Read your essay again when you think that you are finished - make sure that it reads well.
You are allowed to use headings, subheadings and graphics, but if you do, do so sparingly and with a purpose!
Referencing within body of essay
If you are presenting an idea that can be credited to someone then after the idea provide the following information…(surname, year)
e.g., working memory can be equated to consciousness (Sweller, 1999)
If you are providing a direct quote, then place the quote inside quotations, and after the quote provide the following information…(surname, year, page)
e.g., "rehearsal and repetition, so crucial for STM, seem much less critical for LTM" (Bruning, Schraw & Ronning, 1995, p53)
NOTE - in the above example there are three authors of the book, so all three names are provided. If, after providing all three names you again reference the same book, you may choose to reference as follows…(Brunning et al, 1995, p53)
Reference List (Bibliography)
At the end of your essay, on a separate page, list all materials that you referred to in alphabetical sequence, based on the surname of the first author. You need to provide details of:
- title (italics)
Bruning, R. H., Schraw, G. J., & Ronning, R. R. (1995). Cognitive Psychology and Instruction. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
If you are referencing a web site, then do what you can to indicate clearly where (and when) you sighted the information.
Chandler, P., Cooper, G., Pollock, E. & Tindall-Ford, S. (1998). Applying Cognitive Psychology Principles to Education and Training. (accessed 28th July 2010) http://www.aare.edu.au/98pap/cha98030.htm
Please refer to a text book (see the back of it) for examples on how to present a Bibliography.
Good References for Essay Writing
O'Shea, Robert Paul. (2000). Writing for psychology : an introductory guide for students. 3rd ed. Sydney : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich..
Detailed web site to assist students in general for all things reading and writing.
(accessed 28th July 2010)