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Writing Guide: Sample Essay

This guide covers: understanding the essay question; searching databases and organising research; the writing process: critical thinking and note-taking; referencing and citing in text, and using academic language.

Instructions: Mouse over the text below to see annotations giving explanations and information on the writing process, parts of an essay, in-text citations and referencing.

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The Big Fake EssayA cleverly crafted title. Topic is the general subject or issue that is to be written about.

Essays are one of the most common forms of academic writing and can be quite easy to construct once the basic form is understoodFirst sentence within the introduction is designed to introduce the topic that will be discussed in a general way, orientate the reader towards your topic and provide background information. Statements should be kept brief.. When writing essays one must pay attention to overall essay structure, paragraph structure and sentence structure. While these may seem complicated at first, the patterns involved are easy to learn and provide a useful checklist for ensuring a well-crafted essay. This does not, however, ensure that the essay is actually good, as the content is also importantThe following sentences within the introduction follow a funnel shape and provide more details and aspects of the topic being covered in the essay. Here, it clearly outlines the fundamental aspects of writing essays. Such sentences within an introduction will indicate what subtopics will follow in the body paragraphs of the essay. Typically, if we look at these sentences the body paragraphs should be centred on the structure of an essay and the content of an essay having considerable impact on creating one of quality.. The combination of carefully considered research and attention to structure are vital for creating a quality essayAll essays should have clear thesis statements. A thesis statement identifies your position on the chosen topic e.g. ‘it is the combination of carefully considered research and attention to structure that are vital to creating a quality essay..
The essay structure is very formulaic, which makes it easy to produceBody Paragraphs should also hold a particular structure of a topic sentence. This is usually the first sentence of a paragraph. This topic sentence indicates that what will follow is information about the structure of essays.. While there are various essay formats that are acceptable, the five-paragraph structure is one of the most common taught in high schools, and is still frequently used at an undergraduate level (Cismas, 2010; Vardi, 1999)After a topic sentence the next move within a paragraph includes a series of explanatory sentences directly relating to the subtopic of essay structure.

Notice the first use of an in-text citation. You will see examples of these throughout the essay.

You will also notice that the author has used a semicolon to separate the 2 citations referred to in this instance.
. This style of essay consists of an introductory paragraph, three paragraphs that flesh out the ideas raised in the introduction and a concluding paragraph, which summarises the main points of the essay and reaffirms the thesis that was established in the introduction (Turner, Krenus, Ireland & Pointon, 2011). The paragraphs also follow a particular structure.  Each paragraph consists of a topic sentence, several points to explore the topic (and the references to support those points) and a clinching or concluding sentence, which is designed to tie the paragraph to the rest of the essay (Oshima & Hogue, 2007).  For a well-written essay, it is important for the paragraphs to be coherent – not only in terms of making sense within themselves, but also by fitting coherently with the other paragraphs in the essay (Barnet, Bellanca, & Stubbs, 2013)Explanatory sentences should support, expand, explain, examine and justify the points made in the topic sentence. (Evidence, examples and quotes that support your position). It is usually where the scholarly publications from journals and peer reviewed work is integrated to validate and justify your position.

For 3-5 authors cite all surnames the first time you use this source. In subsequent citations only cite the first author and then et al.
. A good writer should also ensure that each sentence follows a clear and correct sentence structure, with a clear subject and verb in every sentence. There is a clear and simple structure at the heart of every sentence, paragraph and essay, and good writers must be aware of these structures in order to create well-written essaysThe last sentence within each body paragraph is designed to conclude and summarise the topic discussed in the paragraph and relate back to the overall thesis or position being presented. Sometimes the concluding sentence can link to the next paragraph by pointing to additional aspects that are important to consider.
These structures can act as a checklist to assist writers with basic editingTopic Sentence. If the writer knows every essay must contain an introduction, a body and a conclusion, he or she can quickly check to make sure the essay has a proper introduction or a complete conclusion. The knowledge that each paragraph must contain a topic sentence and a clincher sentence, and that each sentence within the paragraph should logically and coherently relate to the topic and clincher sentences, gives the author a framework to ensure that each paragraph is complete and makes sense. Since each complete sentence must make sense on its own and contain at least one verb and a clear subject for each verb, the writer can easily check each sentence to make sure it is following a correct structure (Oshima & Hogue, 2007; Rose, 2007).This section of the second body paragraph again provides examples from scholarly publications about the topic.
You must reference every idea or piece of information that you did not invent yourself. It doesn't matter if you write it in your own words, if you did not invent that idea, then you must acknowledge the people responsible for it.This is an example of an in-text citation using the APA author date style
Therefore, writers can use these structures to keep control over the mechanics of writing an essay. However, it is important to note that a perfectly structured essay can still be poorly written if equal care is not given to the contentWithin the body paragraphs, good writers vary sentence beginnings and structure. Academic words for reporting and connecting one idea with another.
The purpose of an essay is to explore a given topic or answer a question, so the content must adequately fulfil this purposeThe introduction indicates that the second subtopic to be discussed in the essay relates to the content of the essay impacting on the quality of the essay.. The writer needs to consider the audience for the paper, the task that has been set and the topic that needs to be covered (Soles & Soles, 2005). He or she needs to understand the topic well, through reading widely and critically, in order to write clearly and comfortably in an academic style (Caron, 2008). For a research essay, it is important to find a wide variety of information from various sources and to use it effectively in the body of the essay – as well an ensuring it has been cited correctly (Barnet et al., 2013; Drew & Bingham, 2010). The author has used this citation before, therefore it is only necessary to state the first author and then et al.

Also note that when multiple authors are cited in parentheses the & is used. If the author details are part of the sentence then and is used.
Appropriate and correct referencing is important for avoiding plagiarism, which is a concern for undergraduate students and their markers (Löfström, 2011). Löfström (2011) goes on to state that “students’ conceptions of plagiarism were characterized by anxiety and fear, concerns about academic and legal consequences, and perceived sanctions” (p. 259). This sentence includes a direct quote from the Löfström text. Note the author details are part of the sentence. Therefore the page number appears at the end of the quote. A good writer must be critical and thoughtful in regards to the research presented in his or her essay and present the best information that could be found. While some essays may require the author to provide their own experiences and opinions, for most academic essays it is normally expected that the writer will consider the topic objectively (H. Hooper, personal communication, February 14, 2013). Because they don't provide recoverable data, personal communications are not included in the reference list. Cite in text only. Examples of personal communications include emails, interviews, private letters, telephone conversations.
Speeches that you have heard "live" and are not uploaded as web content also fall into this category. Basically, when there is no retrievable source document, one may use an in-text "personal communication" citation
One can conclude that Using hedging expressions can create an objective distance in the language choosing appropriate academic language, as well as offering a well-researched and carefully considered argument, is important. The composition of the essay relies as much on the content as it does on the structureConcluding sentence links back to overall position of how it is the combination of content and structure that form effective essays.
A good essay is the combination of content and structureThe final paragraph of an essay is the conclusion. It should open with a sentence that clearly and concisely restates the overall position.. It should consist of a reasoned and considered argument that is supported by research and answers the question posed by the task.  By following simple, formulaic structures at the sentence, paragraph and essay level, a writer can stay in control of the style and make sure the content is presented wellThe conclusion should have a number of sentences that summarise the key points/arguments put forward in the essay to support the overall position.. A writer must pay careful consideration to the structure of the essay and the appropriateness of the content to ensure that the essay is well-written, well-composed and worth reading.Final sentences within a conclusion should indicate the significance of the findings – drawing some conclusions of why it is important to explore content and structure when writing essays – specific implications can be presented and often the writer leaves the reader with an idea of what might occur as a result of the research or what might need to follow on … gaps in research or make a connection back to the broader field or discipline.

 ReferencesFor APA the reference list is arranged in alphabetical order of authors' surnames.If a reference has no author, list it alphabetically according to the title.

Ignore the words 'A' and 'The' at the beginning of a title. If there are two references by the same author, list them in order of publication date with the older one first.
If references by the same author have been published in the same year, list them alphabetically by title. Letters a, b, etc. are placed after the year, e.g. (2001a), (2001b)

Cismas, S. C. (2010). Educating academic writing skills in engineering. In P. Dondon & O. Martin (Eds.), Latest trends on engineering education (pp. 225-247). Corfu Island, Greece: WSEAS Press. Retrieved from
Caron, T. (2008). Teaching writing as a con-artist: When is a writing problem not? College Teaching, 56(3), 137-139. doi:10.3200/CTCH.56.3.137-139
Drew, S., & Bingham, R. (2010). The guide to learning and study skills: For higher education and at work. Burlington, VT: Gower.
Löfström, E. (2011). "Does plagiarism mean anything? LOL.” Students’ conceptions of writing and citing. Journal of Academic Ethics, 9(4), 257-275. doi:10.1007/s10805-011-9145-0For journal articles only the TITLE of the JOURNAL and the VOLUME NUMBER are italicised. Also note that the journal title is in "title case" (i.e. the first letter of each word is capitalised)

Note that the article title is in sentence case and is not italicised. Include the issue number in brackets followed by a comma and the page number range for journal articles and chapters from edited books.
Note that p. is only included for in-text citations and is omitted from pagination in the reference list

doi:10.1016/j.clindermatol.2005.11.009A DOI (digital object identifier) is a unique string of letters and numbers that provides a persistent link to content online.

The APA referencing style specifies that if you can find one, a DOI should be used for resources like online journal articles.
Oshima, A., & Hogue, A. (2007). Introduction to academic writing. White Plains, NY: Pearson/Longman.
Rose, J. (2007). The mature student's guide to writing. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan.
Soles, D., & Soles, D. (2005). The academic essay: How to plan, draft, revise, and write essays. Somerset, UK: Studymates.
This essay is formatted using APA style.  Elements of this style include double line spacing throughout and the indenting of the first line of each paragraph.
The reference list and in-text citations are also formatted using APA style. This is an author-date system.

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