Basic Elements for Organizing Your Essay

Basic Elements for Organizing Your Essay

 

Basic Elements for Organizing Your Essay

The essays are intended as a way for you to learn about researching and writing in a political
science style. First and foremost, your essay should be an analytical research paper. An essay is
meant to provide an analysis of a particular problem or question, based on research rather than
just an argument based on your own views. Your essay is not a platform for you to argue your
personal opinions on an issue. You may come to a strong conclusion, but it is essential that you
give serious consideration to different sides of an issue.
Remember that your conclusions should be determined by your research and analysis. Your
research and analysis should not be determined by the conclusion you want to reach. The broader
objective of essay writing is to expand your way of thinking about a problem, to keep an open
mind about the issues. There is little point to an education if it simply means your preconceived
ideas are better researched. Prejudice literally means “pre-judged” or predetermined. If you
approach an essay with your mind already made up about the issue, then you are simply being
prejudiced.

What are elements of the organization that are important to have in your essay?

Basic Elements for Organizing Your Essay

You will also fail to follow one of the most basic principles of scientific
investigation—that the researcher must let the evidence speak for itself. The researcher cannot
pick and choose evidence to suit his or her desired outcome. The outcome of the experiment or
analysis must be determined by the evidence.
There are two fatal responses your essay must not provoke in its readers: “So, what?” and “Yes,
but…” In the first case, your readers believe that your paper’s topic or conclusion did not deal
with anything interesting or substantive. In the second, your readers are left thinking that your
paper has not dealt with all the evidence or competing perspectives properly. You will not do
well if you write an uninteresting or superficial discussions of a topic—the “So what?”
weakness. Neither will you do well if your paper is one-sided or leaves out obvious
counterpoints that undermine your arguments—the “Yes, but…” weakness.
There are five general aspects of an essay that will be assessed:
Research: Since this is an essay, there has to be evidence of sufficient research. The research
provides the basis for your analysis, and you should strive to cover authors with different points
of view on the subject. Some essay topics are inherently more controversial than others, but it is
always important to try and dig out opposing points of view. Sometimes you will research a topic
where there is quite broad agreement among the sources you read, and it may be difficult to
discover truly opposing points of view. In those instances, you should try and identify which
authors are making unique points, or expressing less-widely held views. While you are
researching, you should try and keep track of the common points as well as the unique
contributions of your different authors; this will greatly help you when you come to write up the
analysis of the issues.
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You should make direct references to your researched material; it is not sufficient just to list
sources in the bibliography that are not used within the essay itself. An essay will be failed if less
than the minimum number of sources set for the course is directly referred to in the essay.
Analysis: It is important that your essay takes an analytic approach to its topic, rather than just a
descriptive one. There should be a clear organizational framework that sets up the inquiry to be
undertaken. It is crucial that a paper examines competing points of view; this is particularly
important with certain topics that are more controversial than others. A paper cannot be merely
an opinion piece that argues one point of view. Use your research to identify what points are
commonly held among your authors, and which points are unique to them. By approaching your
essay in this fashion you should begin to see the different positions that authors take on a
particular point. When you refer to a point supported by several authors, cite all of them rather
than just one. In doing so, you will more vividly portray the areas of consensus in the literature—
which in turn may help you highlight the distinctive or contrary positions of some other authors.
Give competing points of view serious attention in your analysis. Your essay’s conclusions will
be much stronger—and will avoid the “yes, but” objection— if you have taken your reader
through competing points of view and demonstrated which, if any, is stronger than the others.
You want to avoid constructing a “straw man” out of the arguments you oppose; don’t paint a
flimsy and inherently flawed version of an opposing point of view just because it’s easy to
demolish.
Articulation: Since scholarship is dependent upon the articulation of ideas, the manner in which
you express your thoughts is an essential aspect of the evaluation. Because you are writing an
analytical discussion you should write in a fairly formal manner, as you see in your textbook.
Avoid slang and excessively vivid phrases. You should always distinguish between fact and
opinion; a common mistake is to express an opinion as if it were a fact.
The quality of your grammar and choice of vocabulary also are very important aspects of
scholarship. Grammar becomes an issue for raising a paper’s mark because it is so well written,
on the one hand, and for penalizing those whose writing is as an obstacle to easy reading, on the
other. Always try to leave enough time for a “fresh” read through of your essay!
Originality: The originality of an essay can lift it from the ordinary into the realm of excellence.
At the most positive level, reward is given to students who take a novel approach to their topics,
either in the issues covered or in the mixing of personal observations and researched material.
Originality can also be seen in the way in which students choose to adapt and refine the essay
topic, in ways that more clearly present interesting analytical problems to be resolved.
At the other end of the scale, originality is conspicuously absent when a paper has simply
parroted one point after another from other authors. In the worst instances, a paper uses other
authors’ words without properly crediting them.

 

What are three ways to organize ideas in writing

Basic Elements for Organizing Your Essay
Organization: Essays must be clearly organized and each section of the discussion must
logically flow into the next. Your introduction should engage the readers’ interest as well as tell
them what the essay is about. The specific topic of the essay must be made clear. But you must
make clear more than just the topic; you must have a thesis statement that concisely describes the
question to be answered or problem to be resolved. As well, the introduction section should
provide a road map to the rest of the essay, so that the readers have a general idea about what
will be discussed when and why. You should also provide some context to your essay topic, so
your readers understand its importance and why your conclusions may matter. A common
weakness with introductions is to write as if they were a conclusion. While it is good idea to give
an indication of your ultimate position, you should phrase your introduction in a way that it acts
as an open door to your readers.
The body of the essay must be structured into distinct blocks of discussion that each relate to
specific portions of your analysis. The content of the sections should flow logically one after
another. You should consider using section headings to visually present your organization. If you
have any key terms that are not common words, then you should define them in your essay;
definitions can sometimes go in a footnote rather than in the body of the text.
The conclusion should provide a summary of the essay’s main points as well as state your final
thoughts. This is where you explicitly answer the question or resolve the problem raised in your
introduction’s thesis statement. An excellent conclusion will also illustrate the importance of the
paper’s findings. Avoid raising new information or arguments in your conclusion that should
have been discussed in the body of your essay.