18.01.2018

Academic writing

Essay instructions

An essay is a piece of writing where the you aim to discuss the given topic from different perspectives, presenting a critical view and using versatile scientific argumentation, leaning also on the required and relevant reference material.  Hence, you are able to convince the reader of what and how you have learnt of the topic. Most course assignments are essays.

An essay is less restricted than a scientific article both in style and structure. However, the text should proceed in a systematic manner, placing emphasis on different entities. An essay is outlined in sections that are headed. The following division is the most common way to structure an essay:

  1. Introduction, which introduces the subject or the problem, briefly puts the subject in context, demonstrates the viewpoint, and defines the boundaries of the discussion
  2. Discussion, the structure of which depends on the chosen viewpoint (e.g. comparative structure, thesis statement and argumentation, moving from broad scale phenomena to narrow, or from theory to practice)
  3. Conclusion, in which you can draw together the central concepts of the text, further develop their thoughts, deliberate on the (practical) implications of the results, etc. A conclusion also gives you the opportunity to reflect on what they learned during the writing process.

Be aware that essays should have a clear and coherent structure. They should be written in proper academic language, the references should be marked in the text and on the last page there should be a list of references. If no other course specific instruction is given, you can follow the APA guidelines for citing in the text and making the list of references.

When writing an essay, you should consider the three general categories:

Ideas

  • Do you answer the assignment given?
  • Do you understand the reading materials?
  • Do your explanations of concepts, ideas and examples demonstrate an ability to gather the main points, paraphrase them and apply them?
  • Do you have original interpretations?
  • Does your writing demonstrate an understanding of the subject, or does it wander from one subject to the next offering only superficial remarks?

Argumentation

  • Can the reader easily see what your main point is?
  • Does the essay provide a series of points that add up to an argumentation supporting the main point?
  • Does the essay continue logically from point to point?
  • Do you give examples and explanations to support your generalizations?
  • Does the essay contain contradictions?

Structure and style

  • Is the paragraph structure logical?
  • Is your point of view clear?
  • Do the citations and the bibliography follow the scientific standards?

Layout of an essay

  • On the top of the cover page of you essay you should mark:
    • name of the author
    • title of the essay
    • name and code of the course
    • date
  • The second page includes Table of content
  • Your essay should begin on the 3rd page
  • Use font size 12 and spacing 1,5.
  • On the last page there should be a List of References including all the references you have used (books, articles, statistics, on-line material etc., also unpublished material should be listed).

Teachers may have different instructions for some assignments. Please follow the instructions given by the teacher.

You can find further instructions for academic writing e.g. at the University Language Centre material bank at: https://kielikompassi.jyu.fi/opetus/englanti/xen060/materiaali.shtml