Dissertation referencing

You need to reference all of your sources for your dissertation properly. Before we talk about referencing, let’s talk plagiarism. To “plagiarise”, according to the dictionary, means 1. to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own 2. to use (another’s production) without crediting the source 3. to commit literary theft … Read more

How to write a research proposal

A guide to writing effective research proposals This article explains how to write a research proposal, including the purpose of the proposal, what to include, the structure and common problems that are encountered by students as they research or write their proposal. Purpose of the research proposal A research proposal may have several purposes, including to receive … Read more

How to write an exploratory essay

Purpose The exploratory essay is designed to research a topic, and to present that research. This paper does not draw conclusions or make recommendations. Because the exploratory essay asks students to gather information about a topic without synthesizing the sources in a sophisticated manner, such as the traditional argumentative paper, instructors often assign this paper as … Read more

How to write a personal statement

Purpose The personal statement is usually used as part of the criteria for admission into a graduate program. There are often dozens of applications for one spot in a graduate program, and the personal statement helps the graduate school admissions counselors determine which students are most suitable for the program. Criteria Universities rarely offer concrete prompts or … Read more

How to write a thesis

A thesis is the final research project conducted as the capstone to a postgraduate degree. In the United States, a thesis refers to the final project for a master’s degree; only the final project for a doctoral degree is called a dissertation. In the United Kingdom, however, the term “thesis” is not widely used. The term “dissertation” is … Read more

How to write a simple essay

A routine or formula can make writing a simple essay relatively painless. There are many types of essay formats, such as narrative, analysis, argumentative, or comparison and contrast. Familiarizing yourself with these different conceptual frameworks can improve and enrich your writing. But for a simple essay, all you really need to know is the basic Five Paragraph Essay format. Pick a Topic It may sound … Read more

Breaking down the essay question

As well as understanding what type of essay you are being asked to write, sometimes, looking at the wording of the question helps you to understand more about the content of the essay that is expected.  These are terms commonly used in essay questions:

Account for

Your tutor is asking you to explain or  clarify an issue, or give reasons for something.

Analyse

Your tutor will expect you to resolve the essay question into component parts, examining the issues critically and minutely.  It is likely you are being asked to write an analytical essay.

Assess

For this type of essay, you are being asked to determine the value of or weigh up a particular piece of evidence, statement or fact.

Compare

When asked to compare, you are required to look for similarities and differences between issues, perhaps reaching some conclusions about which is preferable.  See compare and contrast essays.

Contrast

Your tutor here wants you to set different perspectives in opposition in order to bring out the differences.  See compare and contrast essays.

Criticise

In a critical essay, you are being asked to make judgments (backed by the discussion of the evidence or reasoning involved).  See critical essays.

Define

As you might expect, here you are expected to state the exact meaning of a word or phrase. In some cases it may be necessary or desirable to examine different possible meanings or often used definitions.  See definition essay.

Describe

When asked to describe, you are expected to give a detailed or graphic account of a particular issue.  See descriptive essay.

Discuss

If your tutor asks you to discuss an issue, you are expected to explain the issue, then give two or more sides of the issue and any implications

Evaluate

If asked to evaluate, you are expected to make an appraisal of the worth or validity or effectiveness of perhaps an issue, statement or piece of evidence in the light of its truth or usefulness (similar to assess).

Explain

When required to explain something, you need to make the meaning of it plain, interpret what is set out for you and account for it, i.e. give reasons why something is the case.

How far..?

Some essay questions begin ‘How far…?’.  These require that you determine to what extent something is true.  Usually this requires looking at evidence or arguments for or against, and weighing them up.

Illustrate

If your tutor asks you to illustrate something, you need to make the particular issue or point clear and explicit. It is a good idea to use carefully chosen examples.

Interpret

When required to interpret a particular statement, fact or issue, you need to explain the meaning of it, make everything clear and explicit, and usually giving a judgment or opinion on the issue in question.

Justify

When asked to justify something, you need to show adequate grounds for decisions or conclusions, and to answer the main objection likely to be made about them.

Outline

Students are often required to outline a particular issue.  This type of essay requires you to give the main features or general principles of the subject, omitting minor details and emphasising structure and argument (similar to summarise).

State…

This type of essay simply requires you to present a particular issue or fact in a brief, clear form.

Summarise…

An essay requiring you to summarise something needs to give a concise, clear explanation or account of the issue in hand, presenting the main factors and omitting any minor details and examples (similar to outline).