The process of writing a university-level essay - A presentation and discussion of the stages
Anastasiya Semenova Student no 120053
Newbold College, Binfield 2013
University assignments can either be seen as frightful, impossible tasks or a chance for further academic development. In order for the last mentioned to happen, a myriad of books, web-pages and guides have been published to help students accomplish this obligatory task of any education. Even so, it seems as if the required , investigative type of writing has, for many, become an obstacle and subject for confusion. In particular, it is, most commonly, not understood how to tackle the project and, eventually, reach the purpose of the exercise - critical thinking, appropriate formulation and development of a personal voice. For this reason, it is meaningful for an unfamiliar student to get acquainted with the course of action before putting it into practice. This way, understanding comes before proceeding, which avoids further difficulties. In this assignment I intend to untangle the stages of accomplishing a well-written university essay by both describing and discussing the process of each stage. A number of published writing guides from various British universities will be used as sources, as well as articles, books and brochures.
According to several essay writing guides, an essay is a written presentation, discussion and/or analysis of certain topic in a comprehensible, holistic and logical way (Studyhood Ltd, 2007), (CSU, 2013). Most often, it has a clear thesis - written by the student or given already - which is compared and analyzed (Silber, 1995). It is also an assessment of understanding of the topic given, and how well the student can communicate ideas of other writers and his own to the reader, leading to a coherent conclusion. An adequately written essay is evidence of good understanding and communication skills (CSU, 2013). It also communicated the student’s unique thoughts concerning the subject (Queen’s University, n.d.).
The purpose of the essay process is to accomplish organization of thoughts and information obtained through research in a logical manner in order for the reader to understand the various arguments existing on the topic (Studyhood Ltd, 2007). It is also a practice of critical thinking and formation of a unique approach to a subject, showing independent thinking (Queen’s University, n.d.) and focusing on a narrow thought throughout the process (Connelly, n.d.). Hurton-Eddison suggests that this is, as a whole, a crucial skill to develop before getting an undergraduate degree.
According to various sources, the essay-writing process is quite similar. The step-by-step guide by Tom Johnson (Johnson, 2004) suggests eight main stages of producing an essay, which are: research, analysis, brainstorming, thesis, outline, introduction, writing of paragraphs and conclusion. It is essential to embrace each one of them, with no reluctance to reviewing and, many times, re-writing.
The research stage is, essentially, the development of the student’s awareness and knowledge, where a variety of sources are searched and picked out for relevant information. Knowledge of what to look for, and where, is fundamental for efficiency (Greetham, 2008). A similar claim is found in the CSU guide (2013) through presenting analysis of question as a stage in itself, suggesting a great emphasis on the importance od a well-angled search. On the other hand, a great amount of time should be invested in order to obtain a holistic comprehension of the subject (Kennard, 2006). Topic awareness should be the starting point in every case, which is easily done by a quick Google-search (Procter, n.d.). When the topic is understood, books need to be skimmed through and relevant chapters found for further, deeper reading (Greetham, 2008). Academic databases are also very useful, providing