One of the most important elements in essay writing is the ability to be analytical and critical (developing your own arguments) rather than just descriptive (reporting other people’s ideas). You need to be able to show that you have read up on the topic to discover other people’s views, looked at the evidence supporting those views and made your own evidence-based conclusions; rather than just accepting and quoting someone else’s view.
Critical analysis is the key to maximum marks whereas descriptive writing, where you only present facts or other people’s views, will only gain minimal marks.
To be critical you need to:
Use of Quotations
Other authors’ viewpoints are useful to include as supporting evidence for your own opinions and conclusions.
Quotations can be used in your work as long as they are properly referenced (see Harvard Guide for advice on how
to put in quotations) and credit given to the original author. However, don’t be tempted to put in so many quotes that they outnumber your own personal contributions and opinions.
Please be aware that failure to give credit to the original author of a quotation or idea, like direct copying of any material and claiming it as your own, is known as Plagiarism. This will lead to the failure of your assignment
It is very important to stay focused on the question you have been given. Try to stick to information which only relates to the question and which supports your arguments.
• Have you actually answered the question?
• Have you included all the important points?
• Have you developed your arguments?
• Is everything that you have included really relevant
If you have any evidence that you would like to include supporting your arguments, these can be included in appendices at the end of your essay:
• Bibliography – a list of all the information sources that you have used (books, journals, websites)
• Surveys & questionnaires
The final version
Go through your final version again or ask a friend or family member to read through it for you to carry out a final check for:
• Statement of the question at the top of the first page of the essay
• Spelling errors
• Presentation – length and spacing of paragraphs. page numbers, headers & footers, etc.
• Have you answered the question?
• Have you included all the important points and are they clear?
• Have you credited all your quotations and do they link to your bibliography?
• Is everything that you have included really relevant?
A front cover
The front cover should state:
• your name
• your course
• Title of the assignment / essay
A contents page can be useful, especially where you may have lots of appendices.