Structure

Report
How to write an essay,
how to write an essay-report
Elena Pierazzo
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Essays
• Most common type of assessment
• Given topic
• Given length
– Word counts: exactly the required length
– 5% grace, after than 2 points for each 5% up
to 50%, then 3 points for each further 5%
– Bibliography excluded
– Notes (foot, end) included
– Title included
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Essay
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Present a topic
Discuss literature
Adopt a particular point of view
Present some conclusions
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School A&H marking criteria
Parameters
• Understanding: the topic, the point of view
• Selection and coverage: the references,
the bibliography
• Structure: the organisation of the
argument
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Understanding
• A: Authoritative, full understanding of all the
issues with originality in analysis
• B: Independent, critical evaluation of full
range of theories with some evidence of
originality
• C: Some capacity to reflect critically but with
no significant evidence of originality.
• F+: Lack of understanding and focus
• F: Shows almost no insight into the
• problem or topic
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Selection and Coverage
• A: Full range of sources used selectively to
support argument
• B: Complex work and concepts presented,
key texts used effectively
• C: Sound knowledge base of primary and
• secondary sources
• F+: Limited sources
• F: Irrelevant sources and/or out of date
sources
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Structure
• A: Coherent and compelling argument well
presented
• B: Argument concise and explicit
• C: The argument is developed but lacks
fluency
• F+: Argument not fully developed and lacks
structure
• F: Argument not developed, confused and
incoherent
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More details: The A range
• A++ (90-100) Strikingly insightful, displaying, for example:
publishable quality, outstanding research potential, highest
originality and independent thought, outstanding ability to
make informed judgement, highest professional standards of
writing and presentation.
• A+ (80-89) Insightful, displays, for example, excellent
research potential, very high originality, possibly of
publishable quality, professional standards of writing and
presentation.
• A (70-79) Excellent; displays, for example, high levels of
originality, accuracy, evidence of the potential to undertake
research, the ability to analyse primary sources critically, very
good standards of writing and presentation
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More details: the B range
• B+ (65-69) Approaching excellence in
some areas, evidence of the potential to
undertake research
• B (60-64) Well developed relevant
argument, good degree of accuracy and
technical competence
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More details: the C range
• (55-59) approaching merit, sound degree
of competency but incomplete argument,
contains some inaccuracies
• (50-54) broadly satisfactory, narrow
argument, contains inaccuracies
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More details: the Fail range
• F+ (40-49) patchy overall knowledge,
presentational weakness, little evidence of
independent thought
• F (0-39) fundamental mistakes,
poor/unacceptable presentation
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What makes a good essay?
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Critical thinking/analysis
Cogency of argument
Quality of written style
Clarity of layout and argument
Component parts link together
Explore further than the obvious – push
boundaries
• Focus on what is really important
• Need for effective communication
• Something that YOU are interested in
Finding information
• Reading books and articles, and taking notes
• Searching catalogues in libraries
– Subjects, keywords, authors that have written
something interesting
– Google scholars/books
• In the library, shelves are often organised by
topic
– So always check the books on the same shelf as
the one you were looking for
• Skimming books for information
– Enables you to cover much more ground
Collecting and managing notes,
quotations, references
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Volume of notes does NOT = quality of notes
Develop easy shorthand for common words
Notebooks
Software
– Desktop
• Endnote
• BiblDesk
• Pliny
– Web based
• Zotero
• … and many others
Skimming books
• Try to make your reading effective
– Most of the time you don’t need to read every
word
• Look in:
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–
–
–
–
–
TOC
Titles of chapters
Indices
Subtitles
Images and tables
Few words at the beginning of a paragraph…
Time management
• Check the deadline
• When applicable: agree the topic with your
teacher
• Distribute time for reading and collecting
materials and notes, writing, proofreading
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1 month = 7 working days
What???
Writing
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Limitations of space
Concise writing
What is central to my argument?
What can be omitted?
Check word limits
Writing: your Outline
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Literature Review
Methodology
A set of interrelated questions
Clear structure
– Divide into sections and sub-sections
– Aids clarity and readability
• Make the direction clear from start
Footnotes
• Avoid multiplication: if you have more than one
quotation from the same page try to group them
• Be concise! Footnotes are difficult to read and are
often ignored
• Use inline reference (Smith 2009:34) and reserve
footnotes for digression1
1.
A similar approach has been discussed by Tupman
2009, p. 34, with the difference that here Tupman
suggests that…
Outline
• Divide your essays into sections and assign a
given number of words to each section
• The largest part of the essay (50% or more)
should discuss the main topic of the essay
• Leave space for conclusions
• You don’t need to include the outline in your
essay, but a description of the methodology is
appropriate
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4000 words’ essay: an example
breakdown
• Introduction: 400 words (10%)
• Methodology: 400 words (10%)
• Central argument: 2600 words (65%)
– Sub argument 1: 500 words
– Sub argument 2: 800 words
– Sub argument 3: 1400 words
• Conclusions: 600 words (15%)
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Title
• Read the title and the rubric carefully: that
will avoid ‘rubric infringement’
• When you think you have finished, read
the title again: does the content respond to
the title?
– Can help to check every paragraph and think
‘how does this respond to the title?’
– If it doesn’t, then delete it!
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Writing a report
Document and Reflect
• Description of a practical piece of work:
software development, survey, interview,
mock-up, internship
• Reflections on your choices, reflections on
the methodology, reflections on the results
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Structure
• Introduction: what you have done, what
was requested
• Methodology: How you have done it
• Results: what have you obtained
• Discussion: critical evaluation of the
methodology and of the results, limits of
your work
• Conclusions: what you have learned, what
would you do differently next time
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Example: Internship
Introduction
I have done my internship at the National
Theatre from 23-10-2012 until the 4-122012.
The National Theatre is a cultural institution
that…
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Methodology
My role in during the internship was to
digitise and store videos of past plays. To do
that I had to use a software called…. Then I
had to add metadata, which where similar
the the standard NISO (Library of Congress
2009)…
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Results
At the end of my internship I had managed
to digitise 3,500 videos, all of which have
been uploaded to the internet. These videos
have been made available to the public to
download, and in particular to schools,
fulfilling the mission of the National Theatre
to produce a wide impact in the society
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Discussion
Digitised content plays a fundamental role in
the mandate of public cultural institutions.
Involving the general public by making this
material available is fundamental, as remarked
by Branson 2007…
Working in a team has been a rewarding
experience, though with some drawbacks due
to the difficulty of having regular meetings…
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Conclusions
The experience at the National Theatre has
been extremely useful, not only because I
have been able to see in practice the issues
we have discussed in class, but also
because I felt that my contribution,
reenforced by the knowledge acquired in
class, has been valuable.
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SOME GENERAL TIPS
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Grammar and spelling
• Avoid using contracted forms: academic
writing is formal
• You can use the first person (I think, my
opinion is), when you really want to make
a statement, otherwise use the
impersonal/passive form
• Use UK or US spelling, but don’t mix them
• Use –ize or –ise but not mix them
• “Its” and “it’s” are not the same thing!
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Gender issues
• A “user” is not “he”
• Use “his/her” “he/she” “him/her”
• Or use the plural “their” “them”
– But, if you do this then make sure everything
that goes with it is plural as well!
‘The user finds it very effective to do their job’
‘The users find it very effective to do their
jobs’
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Watch your language!
• No matter what, ask someone to re-read it,
in particular if this person does not know
the argument
• Make sure your proof-reader is a native
speaker
• READ ALOUD
• READ ALOUD
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Think!
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Format
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Help us to read you!
Use at least a 12pt font
1.5 or double spacing
Give a title and a progressive number to
any image, graphs, table
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Copyright
• Most images on the web are protected by
copyright: be careful!
• Declare the source of your images and
check the terms of use
• If you are the owner of the copyright, then
declare it and add to it a licence or
copyright statement (Creative Commons,
for instance)
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Exercise
• Read the contributions from the issue of
2001 of Nature (411, 521)
• Outline an essay of 2500 words on the
following topic : “The role of freely
available scientific articles in the
advancement of science”
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