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Essay Writing Workshop 2

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Title: Essay Writing Workshop 2


1
Essay Writing Workshop 2
  • Lawrence Cleary, Íde OSullivan
  • Regional Writing Centre

2
Plan of workshops
  • Workshops Weeks 6, 7, 8 and 9 (D1054b)
  • Wednesday 1400 1500
  • Thursday 1500 1600
  • Drop-in/One-to-one sessions
  •    Mon                    24 pm
  •    Tues       1012    24 pm
  •    Wed       1012     24 pm 6-8 pm
  •    Thurs     1012     24 pm 6-8 pm
  •    Fri          1012     
  • Writing Centre www.ul.ie/rwc

3
Workshops
  • Session 1 Getting started Understanding the
    essay question. Planning and organising your
    essay.
  • Session 2 Developing an effective argument.
    Structuring your essay.
  • Session 3 Citing and writing a reference page.
    Strategies to develop writing.
  • Session 4 Academic writing style. Editing and
    proofreading your essay.

4
The thesis and the persuasive principle
  • The instruction word will indicate that a thesis
    is either called for, or not called for. For
    instance, instructions that ask you to summarise
    or outline something are not normally interpreted
    as calling for a thesis statement.
  • The method of development and organisation will
    suggest where the thesis will appear in your
    essay.

5
The thesis and the persuasive principle
  • Your thesis is the basic stand you take, the
    opinion you express, the point you make about
    your limited subject. Its your controlling idea,
    tying together and giving direction to all other
    separate elements in your paper. Your primary
    purpose is to persuade the reader that your
    thesis is a valid one (Skwire, 1976 3).

6
The thesis and persuasion Academic argument
  • In college, course assignments often ask you to
    make a persuasive case in writing. You are asked
    to convince your reader of your point of view.
    This form of persuasion, often called academic
    argument, follows a predictable pattern in
    writing. After a brief introduction of your
    topic, you state your point of view on the topic
    directly and often in one sentence. This sentence
    is the thesis statement and it serves as a
    summary of the argument you'll make in the rest
    of your paper (UNC-CH Writing Center, 2004
    Online).

7
What is an argument?
  • An argument is the case that someone makes, in a
    theory or in their writing you give reasons for
    saying what you do, and present evidence to
    support what you say (Ebert et al., 1997).
  • Arguments can be explicit or implicit.
  • Academic arguments require justifications for
    their claims.

8
Advancing the argument
  • Advance your argument by giving evidence which is
    valid and reliable.
  • Evidence can consist of facts or reliable
    statistics, examples, educated opinions in the
    form of quotations, or summaries and paraphrases
    of ideas, from knowledgeable sources.
  • When referring to the opinions of those you have
    read, be clear that you defer to the opinion, or
    that you object to it (be critical but polite).

9
Advancing the argument
  • Anticipate and address counterarguments or
    objections in order to strengthen your argument.
  • Present each argument fairly and objectively.
  • Show the reader that you have considered other
    sides of the argument.
  • Leave your reader with a sense that your argument
    is stronger than opposing arguments.

10
Advancing the argument
  • Present counterarguments and explain both the
    strengths and weaknesses of these arguments (they
    should be balanced).
  • Concede points, even when you know that such a
    concession weakens your argument. The goal is not
    to be right, but to honestly explore the
    question.
  • Qualify your statements.
  • Expose questions that your opinion begs
  • Your concluding argument should be strong and
    positive.

11
Persuasion and truth in academic writing
  • Because they are argumentative, academic writing
    tends to be persuasive.
  • An argument should be persuasive, but dont
    sacrifice truth in favour of persuasion.
  • Academic inquiry is a truth-seeking pursuit.
  • facts are distinguished from opinions.
  • subjective truths are distinguished from
    objective truths.
  • relative truths are distinguished from absolute
    truths.

12
Persuasion and truth in academic writing
  • The integrity of the conclusions reached in an
    academic essay or report is based on its honest
    pursuit of truth.
  • Its persuasive quality is based on the quality of
    its appeals.
  • Although largely dependent on logic, proof, and
    method, academic texts do appeal to the readers
    emotions and regard for authority as well as to
    reason.

13
Tips
  • Leedy (2001 183) cites Marius (1989) in
    highlighting 4 rules for an argument
  • state your arguments early in the game
    present and interpret data
  • provide examples to support any assertion you
    make
  • give the fairest possible treatment of any
    perspectives different from your own may
    support or disagree with them
  • point out the weaknesses of your own argument
    by doing this you show objectivity as a
    researcher.

14
Tips
  • Pursue your argument logically.
  • Do not only describe, but evaluate and interpret
    also.
  • Establish your argument in the introduction in
    a thesis statement.
  • Advance your argument by giving evidence.
  • Do not reiterate evidence already provided, but
    refer back to something you have already stated.
  • Lines of argument should flow linearly.
  • Paragraphs carry arguments.

15
Essay structure
  • Organise the essay so that the argument unfolds
    in a clearly stated, detailed, logical, linear
    progression and arrangement of ideas.
  • Introduction present the thesis, hypothesis, or
    question that you will try to defend, prove or
    disprove, or answer.
  • Sections to support the thesis
  • Conclusions

16
The introduction
  • In academic writing, an introduction, or opening,
    has four purposes
  • To introduce the topic of the essay
  • To indicate the context of the conversation
    through background information
  • To give some indication of the overall plan of
    the essay
  • To catch the readers attention, usually by
    convincing the reader of its relevance.

17
The introduction
  • The introduction has two parts
  • General statements.
  • General statements attract a readers attention,
    and give background information on the topic.
  • A thesis statement
  • States the main topic.
  • Sometimes indicates sub-topics.
  • Will sometimes indicate how the essay is to be
    organised.
  • Is usually the last sentence in the introduction.

18
The introduction
  • Example thesis statement
  • The status of women in Xanadu has improved
    remarkably in recent years in the areas of
    economic independence, political rights,
    educational opportunities, and social status
    yet, when compared to the status of women in
    developed countries, it is still pretty low
    (Oshima and Hogue, 1999 105).

19
What should I put into the introduction?
  • Identify the domain and the topic
  • State the problem - claim, hypothesis, or
    question - to be investigated
  • Gives the problem context and significance within
    the research community
  • State the objectives and outline the plan
  • Give a detailed description of what will follow
    in subsequent chapters

20
In brief.
  • The introduction should be funnel shaped
  • Begin with broad statements.
  • Make these statements more and more specific as
    the writer narrows the scope of the topic and
    comes to the problem.
  • Be sure that the question, hypothesis or claim is
    one that can be handled in a report of the length
    specified.
  • This question, hypothesis or claim is your thesis
    statement.

21
Paragraph structure
  • Essays are divided into paragraphs in a
    meaningful way.
  • What is a paragraph?
  • Series of sentences
  • Coherent (introduction, middle, end)
  • Common theme
  • Every sentence in a paragraph develops one topic
    or idea, and each paragraph in an argumentative
    essay, likewise, develops the line of argument
    that supports the thesis statement.

22
Paragraph structure
  • Paragraphs signal the logically organised
    progression of ideas.
  • When organising paragraphs, the main idea in one
    paragraph should flow logically into the next.
  • The flow of information should be organised
    around themes and comments.
  • Shifts in the argument or changes in direction
    should be accurately signalled using appropriate
    adverbials, conjunctions, and prepositions.

23
Paragraph structure
  • Just as an essay is guided by a thesis statement,
    a paragraph is organised around its topic
    sentence.
  • A topic sentence informs the reader of the topic
    to be discussed.
  • A topic sentence contains controlling ideas which
    limit the scope of the discussion to ideas that
    are manageable in a paragraph.

24
Paragraph structure Supporting sentences
  • The sentences that follow expand upon the topic,
    using controlling ideas to limit the discussion.
    The main idea is supported by
  • Evidence in the form of facts, statistics,
    theoretical probabilities, reputable, educated
    opinions,
  • Illustrations in the form of examples and
    extended examples, and
  • Argumentation based on the evidence presented.
  • Qualifying statements indicate the limitations of
    the support or argument.

25
Paragraph structure Concluding sentences
  • Not every paragraph needs a concluding sentence.
  • Concluding sentences can either comment on the
    information in the text, or
  • They can paraphrase the topic sentence.

26
Paragraph structure Unity
  • Paragraphs should be unified.
  • Unity means that only one main idea is discussed
    in a paragraph. The main idea is stated in the
    topic sentence, and then each and every
    supporting sentence develops that idea (Oshima
    and Hogue, 1999 18).

27
Paragraph structure Coherence
  • Coherence means that your paragraph is easy to
    read and understand because
  • your supporting sentences are in some kind of
    logical order
  • your ideas are connected by the use of
    appropriate transition signals
  • your pronoun references clearly point to the
    intended antecedent and is consistent
  • you have repeated or substituted key nouns.
  • (Oshima and Hogue, 2006 22)

28
Example (Meei-Fang et al. 2007, p.471)
  • People with dementia are particularly vulnerable
    to malnutrition they have a decreased ability to
    understand directions and to express their needs
    verbally, are easily distracted from eating,
    prone to become agitated, and may use utensils
    incorrectly. Inability to feed oneself (eating
    dependency) is a major risk factor for
    malnutrition among older people living in
    long-term care settings (Abbasi Rudman 1994,
    Durnbaugh et al. 1996). When people with dementia
    can no longer take food voluntarily, assistance
    is required although, as the disease progresses,
    even taking food with assistance can become
    difficult and, in some instances, tube-feeding
    may be required to supply nutrition. This form of
    feeding can, however, cause distress and anxiety,
    not only for the person being fed, but also for
    caregivers (Akerlund Norberg 1985, Burgener
    Shimer 1993).

29
Cohesive devices
  • References
  • Backwards (pronouns, demonstratives , definite
    article)
  • Forwards (the following, as follows,
    subsequently)
  • Substitution (so, one, ones)
  • Ellipsis (the remainder, another part)
  • Conjunction (however, for example, furthermore,
    firstly)
  • Lexical cohesion (Repetition, Synonyms)
  • Anaphoric nouns (this problem, this situation,
    this view, this process)

30
Examples Gillett (2005)
  • Some of the water which falls as rain flows on
    the surface as streams. Another part is
    evaporated. The remainder sinks into the ground
    and is known as ground water.
  • Ellipsis
  • Genetics deals with how genes are passed on from
    parents to their offspring. A great deal is known
    about the mechanisms governing this process.
  • Anaphoric nouns

31
Examples Gillett (2005)
  • This first example illustrates an impulsive
    overdose taken by a woman who had experienced a
    recent loss and had been unable to discuss her
    problems with her family. During the relatively
    short treatment, the therapist helped the patient
    to begin discussing her feelings with her
    family.
  • Lexical cohesion

32
Paragraph structure Transition signals
  • Transition signals do exactly what it says on the
    tin they signal. They can signal relationships
    between sentences, just as they can signal
    relationships between paragraphs.
  • Example Finally, there have been numerous women
    altogether outside the profession, who were
    reformers dedicated to creating alternatives
    (Gillet, 2005 Online).
  • The signal indicates the final point in a series
    of points.

33
Paragraph structure
  • Dos and Donts
  • Do not use pronouns to refer to an antecedent in
    the previous paragraph.
  • Lengthy paragraphs indicate a lack of structure.
  • Short paragraphs indicate a lack of detail or
    evidence to support the argument.
  • Do not end a paragraph with a quotation.
  • Use a variety of sentence patterns and lengths to
    give your paragraph a lively rhythm.
  • Signpost your paragraph organisation.

34
What is a conclusion?
  • A conclusion is a final result, a judgment
    reached by reasoning, or the summing up of an
    essay, book, or other piece of writing (ABC of
    Academic Writing).

35
The conclusion
  • How you conclude your paper, like everything else
    in writing, largely depends on your purpose.
    Generally, though, a conclusion ends by reminding
    the reader of the main points of the argument in
    support of your thesis.
  • Otherwise, you may end with a reflection, a call
    to action, an impact question (indicating,
    perhaps, that you see scope for future research),
    a quote, or advice.

36
Elements of a good conclusion
  • A conclusion should
  • Remind the reader of the main points of your
    argument
  • Bring closure to the interpretation of the data
    (Leedy, 2001 291)
  • Be clear
  • Be logical
  • Be credible

37
Elements of a good conclusion
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the limitations
  • Discuss the implications of the findings
  • Offer suggestions for future developments
    Remember A summary alone of what you have done
    is a weak conclusion
  • End on a positive note final sentence should be
    strong and positive

38
In brief
  • Whatever kind of conclusion you decide on, it
    should not introduce new topics, apologize for
    any real or perceived failings in the paper, or
    merely stop or trail off. Make sure your paper
    has a clear sense of closure (Ebert et al.,
    1997 129)

39
Sentence structure
  • Vary your rhythm by using a variety of sentence
    types and patterns. Use a combination of
  • Simple sentences
  • Compound sentences
  • Complex sentences
  • Compound-Complex sentences
  • Do not limit yourself to simple sentences or
    linking sentences using and/but.

40
Sentence structure
  • Simple sentences are single independent clauses.
    They have a subject, a verb, and express a
    complete thought
  • Jesus wept.
  • My aunt set her alarm and went to bed.
  • Trevor and Máiréad are too young to be out
    this late.
  • Im leaving at six and coming back at ten.

41
Sentence structure
  • Compound sentences consist of two independent
    clauses.
  • I told him not to buy that car, but he just
    couldnt resist.
  • I told him not to buy that car he bought it
    nonetheless.
  • I told him not to buy that car however, he was
    unable to resist.

42
Sentence structure
  • Complex sentences combine an independent clause
    with one or more dependent (subordinate) clauses.
  • Subordinate clauses contain a subject, a verb,
    but do not express a complete thought.
  • The relationship between the subordinate clause
    and the independent clause is expressed by a
    subordinating conjunction.

43
Sentence structure
  • There are three types of subordinate clauses
  • Noun clauses That I had stayed up all night
    working on it didnt seem to be important.
  • Adjective clauses The woman who is waving is my
    mother.
  • Adverb clauses After adding up all the sales,
    Mary discovered that the lemonade stand was 32
    cents short.

44
Sentence structure
  • Compound-Complex Clauses consist of two
    independent clauses combined with one or more
    subordinating clause.
  • While driving to the shop, I was thinking that we
    should reconsider our decision, and I told myself
    that I would talk to you about it when I got home.
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