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Writing an Academic Essay. The Purpose and Process of Academic Writing. Some Parameters. We will not exhaust every aspect of academic writing We will focus on the overall process of writing an academic paper We will not focus on rules We will instead focus on strategies.

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writing an academic essay

Writing an Academic Essay

The Purpose and Process of Academic Writing

some parameters
Some Parameters
  • We will not exhaust every aspect of academic writing
  • We will focus on the overall process of writing an academic paper
  • We will not focus on rules
  • We will instead focus on strategies
what is the purpose of the academic essay
What Is The Purpose of the Academic Essay?

The word “essay” is derived from the Latin verb “exigere”, which means to:

    • Examine
    • Test
    • Drive out
  • What could the purpose of an essay be given this definition?
other purposes
Other Purposes
  • Discover knowledge
  • Make a point
  • Persuade the reader
  • Share information
  • Synthesis Information
  • Analyze a topic
  • Document your observations
  • All of the above
think of writing as a step by step process
Think of Writing as a Step by Step Process
  • Read and Research
  • Brainstorm Ideas
  • Develop Working Thesis and Outline
  • Write Rough Draft
  • Review for Content
  • Revise Rough Draft
  • Review for Grammar and Mechanics
  • Revise Second Draft
  • Continue Reviewing and Revising as Needed
where do i get ideas to write about
Where Do I Get Ideas To Write About?
  • Read texts related to your topic
  • Use brainstorming techniques like:
    • Listing ideas
    • Clustering or mind mapping
    • Free writing
  • Discuss the issue with others
  • Research the topic
reading a text
Reading a Text

Compare these two images about Japanese Concentration camps during World War II. The first is by American photographer Ansel Adams. The second is a cartoon by Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel.

contrasting the two texts
Contrasting the Two Texts
  • Ansel Adams
    • Uses photograph
    • Creates sympathy
    • Documents history
    • Subtle
    • Politically motivated
    • Captures humanity
    • Shows us the suffering
    • Emphasizes helplessness
    • Focused on the individual
  • Dr. Seuss
    • Uses cartoon
    • Stirs animosity
    • Used for propaganda
    • Exaggerated
    • Politically motivated
    • Uses stereotypes
    • Makes characters look happy
    • Emphasizes danger
    • Focused on the larger view
  • Write your main point in the center of the page and circle it
  • As ideas come to you, branch off from the main point
  • Think of the cluster as a tree, each idea branching off a previous idea
  • Do not censor or edit yourself
develop a working thesis
Develop a Working Thesis
  • A thesis comes at the end of the introduction section of your paper
  • It lets the reader know exactly what overall point you are trying to make
  • It should be specific, not general
  • It can be used by the reader and the writer as a road map for the rest of the paper
  • It is not fixed; it can and should evolve as your ideas evolve
  • What you present in the paper should not deviate from what you promise in the thesis
  • Establishes expectations
thesis examples
Thesis Examples
  • Dr. Seuss’ propaganda cartoons during World War II reduced Japanese Americans to stereotypes, played on the fears of the American public during a time of war, and focused on a the broad, generalized issues of the situation rather than the individual circumstances of the people involved.
developing an outline
Developing an Outline
  • Once you establish a thesis, use it to help you develop an outline of the paper
  • An outline will:
    • Help you organize your ideas
    • Keep you focused
    • Save time
  • Keep in mind there are several ways to approach writing an outline
outline example
Outline Example
  • Thesis
  • Main Point
    • Supporting Point
      • Detail
      • Detail
    • Supporting Point
      • Detail
      • Detail
  • Main Point
    • Supporting Point
      • Detail
      • Detail
    • Supporting Point
      • Detail
      • Detail
    • Supporting Point
      • Detail
      • Detail
  • Main Point
    • Supporting Point
      • Detail
      • Detail
    • Supporting Point
      • Detail
      • Detail
  • Conclusion
writing the rough draft
Writing the Rough Draft
  • Now that you have a thesis and outline, you may begin writing your rough draft.
  • As you write this rough draft, keep the following strategies in mind:
    • Organize information in your body paragraphs
    • Hook the reader in the introduction
    • Keep your paper coherent with transition words and sentences
    • Wrap up your paper with a strong closing
    • Utilize academic writing conventions
    • Follow the writing process
  • The purpose of the introduction paragraph is to:
    • Bait the reader
    • Contextualize your argument or topic
    • Provide necessary background information about the topic
strategies to bait the reader
Strategies to Bait the Reader
  • Ask a question
  • Tell a story
  • Use a quote
  • Provide interesting statistics
  • Share an anecdote
  • Make a provocative statement
give context in the introduction
Give Context in the Introduction
  • What does the reader need to know to understand this paper?
    • Historical background
    • Issues relating to the topic
    • Important authors and texts you will be referring to
    • Cultural issues
    • Why this topic is important or relevant
start your body paragraphs with clear topic sentences
Start Your Body Paragraphs with Clear Topic Sentences

A topic sentence:

  • Comes at the beginning of a paragraph
  • Presents the most important point you want to make in that paragraph
  • Is specific (or not so broad it would require a full essay to explore)
use compelling supporting points to support your topic sentence
Use Compelling Supporting Points to Support Your Topic Sentence
  • Supporting points are examples or pieces of evidence that support the claim you have made in your topic sentence.
  • They can be:
    • Facts
    • Examples
    • Anecdotes (Stories)
    • Expert Testimony
    • Quotes
    • Observations
    • Statistics
make sure to elaborate with concrete details
Make Sure to Elaborate with Concrete Details
  • Once you have listed your supporting points, you can now elaborate on them by adding details or explaining what you mean further.

Topic Sentence: Dr. Seuss emphasized the danger posed by Japanese Americans during World War II.

Main Point: His pictures show a parade of smiling Japanese marching down the West Coast collecting explosives.

Detail: Each box of TNT these cartoon characters carry plays on the often irrational fears Americans felt toward Japanese Americans after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

an alternative using the pie formula
An Alternative: Using the PIE Formula
  • Another useful strategy to organize information is to use the PIE formula
  • PIE
    • P = Point = The main point you want to make
    • I = Illustration = A quote or paraphrase from the text
    • E = Explanation = Your explanation about what the quote or paraphrase means
use transitions to create coherence
Use Transitions to Create Coherence
  • Use transition words or sentences to bridge ideas so the reader does not get confused
  • First
  • Second
  • In addition
  • Nevertheless
  • In contrast
  • Furthermore
  • Therefore
  • Etc.
strategies for a conclusion
Strategies for a Conclusion
  • Re-state your thesis statement in a different way
  • Make a strong closing comment
  • Use any of the strategies for the introduction
  • Wrap up the paper with a neat bow tie
academic conventions things to avoid
Academic Conventions: Things to Avoid
  • Avoid use personal pronouns like “I”, “We”, and “You”.
  • Avoid not use contractions like “isn’t”, “they’re”, “wasn’t”, etc.
  • Avoid slang
  • Avoid a personal tone
  • Avoid vague ideas
  • Avoid plagiarism
academic conventions things to do
Academic Conventions: Things to Do
  • Do address both sides of an argument
  • Do cite your sources
  • Do use a formal tone
  • Do take a stand
  • Do use concrete details
  • Do give yourself time to develop your paper
remember writing is a process
Remember, Writing is a Process
  • Every writing assignment is practice for the next one
  • Writing takes time
  • Go through every step of the process
  • Focus on your ideas first
  • Focus on grammar and spelling last
  • Get feedback from a peer, instructor, or tutor