Essay Writing Guide and Template

Topics: Citation, Essay, Parenthetical referencing Pages: 9 (3618 words) Published: January 19, 2015
Global Social Policy - Assessment and Essay Writing Guidance

I have had several students contact me regarding the assignment, hence here is some useful guidance on writing essays.

Use Plain English
Keep your writing style simple by using plain English. Avoid using long, complex or technical words unless you need to use such words for reasons of technical precision. Avoid overlong sentences because they are difficult to read. You can engage the attention of the reader by using active verbs. For example, it is usually better to write the committee decided to..., than a decision was made by the committee to.... You can use ‘I’ but …

It is perfectly fine to use ‘I’ in an academic essay but only to describe what you are doing as a writer e.g. “In this essay I argue…” or “I go on to conclude that ….”. It is not acceptable practice to use I to present the content of your argument e.g. “I think that ….” or “I believe that ..” or “In this instance I feel X is on the right track ….” Contractions

It is good academic practice to avoid contractions. An example of a contraction is the word don’t, in an essay you would use the full two words - do not. Apostrophes
Please remember that apostrophes are used to denote the possessive and not plurals. Incorrectly placed apostrophes do have the power to enrage even the most mild-mannered academic so it pays to check your work for them. It is correct to write ‘It is in this government’s power to legislate against banking fraud’ (the apostrophe denotes that the power belongs to the government) but it is not correct to write ‘Many government’s today are worried by banking fraud’ (in this sentence we are talking about more than one government and ‘governments’ denotes the plural). Answering the question

If you are writing an essay or assignment it is very important that answer the specific question you have been set. University essays rarely have ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers as they are testing your ability to organise and present your own position on the question asked. That is why you will lose marks if you ignore the specific question asked of you or answer one that you wished you had been asked instead. Use of quotations and paraphrasing

You may want to support your argument with a direct quotation, for example: If management in a workplace negotiate with trade unions, the empirical evidence suggests that the workplace would be more likely to close compared to a workplace where management do not negotiate with trade unions. “However, the size and statistical significance of union effects differ across dimensions of unionization and type of workplace” (Bryson 2004: 283). When you include a longer direct quote (a good rule of thumb is if the quote is more than 20 words long) then you should indent it from the margin. Direct quotes must always be surrounded by quotation marks and a page number of the original source provided. In general, you should only use direct quotations if the specific quotation is necessary to support the point you are making. It is often better to paraphrase the argument being made, e.g.: According to Bryson (2004: 283) the effects of unions on the probability of a workplace closing depends on the type of workplace and the dimensions of unionization. This is a better way of making the point than using the direct quotation. If you include a direct quotation without using quotation marks to show that it is a quotation, or if you substantially paraphrase the work of someone else without providing a reference, you will be guilty of plagiarism and risk a penalty for academic misconduct. Secondary citation

Sometimes you will come across a point that you want to make, which is based on the author you are reading citing the work of someone else. This is known as secondary citation. You should reference this as follows: In text: Willman (1989, cited in Charlwood 2004:71).

Where 71 is the page number in the article by Charlwood in which Willman is cited. You should...
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