WRITING POSTGRADUATE ESSAYS Horace Fletcher Before you start writing • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 1 Reading the question. 2 Interpretation of the question. 3 The significance of the question. 4 Planning the essay. 5 Format of the essay. 6 The introduction. 7 The body. 8 The conclusion. READING THE QUESTION. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • At the postgraduate level, the questions asked are very carefully worded to avoid any ambiguity. The answer required is therefore very specific and reading each question carefully is of utmost importance. Try to avoid jumping straight into a question you think you have seen before in the past papers, because invariably there is a slight change in the wording, with a totally different answer required. INTERPRETATION OF THE QUESTION • KEY WORDS • Write down the key words for each question, at the time you are going to attempt the answer • Discuss, Describe MANAGEMENT. • This is a very common key word. You must subdivide it into, • taking a history; physical examination; investigation and • definitive treatment. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE QUESTION • The question always has a significance or relevance to modern Obstetric and gynaecological teaching practices and also probably important medical and social implications topics are usually • Topics are chosen from subjects that are raging in the recent literature The medical and social importance of the topic must be looked for. In many obstetric questions certain factors are of importance because of their effecton maternal and foetal morbidity and mortality PLANNING THE ESSAY • The plan is very important and you must take enough time to do a very comprehensive outline of what you plan to write • The plan is a brief outline of the essay with an introduction, a body and a conclusion. The key words are written down first, beside each one write their meaning and also jot down any other important words as they come to mind The plan • The definition of one key word may be important to begin the essay. This word will be obvious, as it will that around which the discussion will revolve. • Next, write out what you think is the relevance of the question as outlined above. The Plan • Then write an outline of the introduction, the body and the conclusion. • The plan should have a format where an idea of each paragraph can already be seen. • Each key word may have subheadings that may come to mind, jot these down as soon as you think of them lest you forget to include them in the essay. THE FORMAT OF THE ESSAY • Each essay must have an introduction, a body and a conclusion. • The introduction and the conclusion are each written as one paragraph, while the body has several. THE INTRODUCTION • This is usually begun with a definition of the topic. • The incidence of the particular condition if known can then be mentioned. Introduction • The next thing to mention is the significance of the topic. • The next two or three sentences should make a statement or statements setting out the gist of the essay in brief • An outline may state the main points for and against an argument to be put forward Introduction • Lastly the end of the introduction is usually a statement outlining the consensus of the argument or a conclusion. • You may give a philosophical view as to what you think is the direction that future management should or may take THE BODY OF THE ESSAY. • • The points set out in the plan and the introduction are here further expanded. • Each point may be put in sub headings and • Each point is put in a different paragraph. THE CONCLUSION. • • The last paragraph should have a statement saying where the future lies for the factor being discussed. • Again you may give a philosophical but relevant viewpoint. OTHER FACTORS. • • The writing of a good essay requires a good grasp of the relevant subject and good essay writing technique as set out above. • • Penmanship. Your writing must be legible. • • Use of proper English. This should be impeccable. • Other Points • • • • • • • • • • • • • Abbreviations should not be used without prior explanation. Proper spelling and punctuation are also of value. Reading over the essay is very important. Timing yourself to ensure that enough time is given to each essay for planning writing and reading over. Practise writing essays from the past papers so that these points may be perfected.