In An Essay Help You Guide My Path

SUMMARY:

  • The body paragraphs are where you present your paper’s main points.
  • Your body paragraphs should contain ample textual evidence, be correctly formatted, and have seamless transitions.

The body is the meat and potatoes of your essay. As such, it needs to contain lots of juicy textual evidence and meaty support, not fluff.

Each body paragraph contains one main idea, backed up by textual evidence and your own analysis. Your analysis should make up the majority of your paragraph.

Remember that (unless your teacher specifically says so), there’s nothing magic about having three body paragraphs. Have as many as you need to get your ideas across. The topic sentences of your body paragraphs should be determined by how you grouped your notes when you were outlining.

With your outline in hand, it’s time to draft your essay.

 

1) What makes a good quote

SUMMARY:

  • The best quotes contain in-depth analysis, opinion, or interpretation, not facts.

LINKS:

When choosing quotes to put in your final paper, keep in mind that some information works better in quote form and some is better as an indirect quote (paraphrased).

Take the following example: According to the CIA Factbook, “all of China falls within one time zone” (CIA Factbook).

How exciting of a quote is that? Not very.

The best quotes contain analysis, opinion, or interpretation. When quoting directly from a source, be sure that the quote is interesting. Take the following example:

According to Lina Song, a professor of economic sociology and social policy at the University of Nottingham, “Local government debt in China is a time bomb waiting to go off” (A Time Bomb, NY Times). In China, local government debt has swelled to 14 trillion yuan (People’s Bank of China).

The opinion part–that local debts in China are a time bomb–is a direct quotation from a credible source (a professor). This makes a good quote since her opinion paints an interesting picture of China’s current economic situation. The fact–that debt is now 14 trillion yuan–is not quoted, since it would be a boring quote. But it does provide substantial factual support to Song’s opinion.

When looking for quotes, look for the most concise parts of the text that explain the author’s points. You don’t want to devote too much of your paper’s length to quoting from your sources.

Try to embed quotes into your writing smoothly by placing them in a sentence of your own, rather than just plopping them in your paper. These ‘lead up’ sentences should contain transitions that give your reader the context behind the quote.

 

2) Making good points

SUMMARY:

  • Good points follow a formula: introduction of evidence + evidence + analysis.
  • The above structure can be modified based on the paper you are writing.

LINKS:

RESOURCES:

  • They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing – Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein

Your paper should contain a number of points that make your argument. These points should be substantiated by data–either in the form of direct quotes or paraphrasing. Good points are usually written with the following framework: introduction of evidence + evidence + analysis.
Let’s break down each part:

  1. Introduction of evidence

    – The first part of your point should be a sentence or two that transitions into your quote and explains the topic your quote addresses. Why are you citing this particular evidence? What is the quote adding to your paper?

    For humanities papers, you’ll probably be introducing the work you’re analyzing at the beginning (introductory paragraph) of your essay. Therefore, when you bring up quotes, your ‘introduction of evidence’ will usually contain a transition saying how your quote relates to the rest of your paper.

    Examples:
    “Another example of Healthcliff’s indifference is seen in…”
    “Also, Rowling uses scenic detail to add drama to the book. For example…”
    “Finally, Venus’ frustration comes to a crescendo when the goddess…”
    Notice how each of these examples contains transition words that prepare the reader to hear the quote.

    For social science papers and research papers, you’ll probably be using a lot of sources for support, and as such, you’ll want to introduce each before you quote directly from it. When you bring up a source for the first time, you will want to state its credentials to demonstrate that you are citing an authoritative source (and not just a random person).

    Examples:
    “Further insight into income inequality is provided by Dr. Delaney, an economist at Stanford, who is of the opinion that…” “Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, writes that our preconceived notions influence our perceptions…”

    Keep in mind that if you are paraphrasing from a source, it may not be necessary to introduce it. Use your own discretion.

    Example: It sounds funny to say, “The CIA World Factbook, an authority on world statistics, states that “Mali is a landlocked country highly dependent on gold mining and agricultural exports for revenue” (CIA World Factbook).

    Instead, you can just weave the facts about Mali into your essay and provide a parenthetical citation for the Factbook.

  2. Evidence

    – Here is where you substantiate your claim with a direct quote or text that is paraphrased. If you are quoting, be sure to transcribe from your source exactly, word-for-word. If you are paraphrasing, be sure you are doing the citations properly (See our guide to Parenthetical Citations).

  3. Analysis

    – It is important that your evidence isn’t just plopped in your paper. The quote’s relevance to the rest of your paper may seem obvious to you, but you cannot assume that your reader will make the connection. You need to make it explicit. Your analysis should explain why the stated quote helps further an idea promoted in your essay.

    “…This unique rhyming scheme, made famous by Shakespeare, makes the text lighthearted although the poem’s themes of love and timelessness are weighty.” “…The fearful closing lines juxtapose the cheery opening lines, heightening the reader’s sense of unease.”

    “…Abraham Lincoln’s gracious words in this passage indicate his gratitude toward Americans and thankfulness to God.”

    Keep in mind that the above formula can be modified to fit the flow of your paper. For example, if you are comparing two passages of text, you may want to quote them both first before analyzing them. Your analysis might be a discussion of the similarities/differences between the passages.

    Let’s take a look at how this point-making formula works within a paper, provided by George Mason University’s Department of English:

The opening lines of “The Cask of Amontillado” are cunningly crafted to both entice the reader and immediately situate the narrative: “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged…” (123). With incredible economy we are presented with a troubled relationship between the narrator and Fortunato, which has reached its breaking point. It is also made clear that we are not the intended audience of this narrative. The “you” addressed knows the narrator well; we do not. This and the epistolary tone would suggest that we are looking upon some long forgotten piece of correspondence, which only heightens the atmosphere of mystery and dread already created by this sparse introduction.Here the writer introduces the work, “The Case of Amontillado” and provides a topic sentence. We know what to expect: a discussion on how the opening lines of the text grab the reader and set up the rest of the work. 

The quote is presented. It is cited correctly.

 

 

 

Here, the writer analyzes the the quote. He discusses how the troubled relationship between two people helps frame the book. Notice how he’s building this using this textual evidence to support his topic sentence.

 

 

 

But the writer goes further. He analyzes how details in the text grab the reader through use of literary technique. We are told that this adds to the “atmosphere of mystery and dread” of the short story.

 

E. 3) Formatting quotes and parenthetical citations MLA/APA

SUMMARY:

  • Format your quotes properly, and cite them correctly.

LINKS:

You have done a lot of hard work gathering your sources and selecting quotes. You want to make sure that your quotes are beautifully integrated into your paper. You want the text of the quote to be formatted correctly, and you want your citations to be correct. For that, check out our site for Parenthetical Citations

 

4) Transitioning

SUMMARY:

  • Transitions provide links between ideas of your paper.

LINKS:

Transitions are key to a kick-butt paper. They provide the connections between the major ideas in your paper, and they give the reader cues to tell him where you are going. Remember (from when you researched and outlined) that your transitions should reflect how your notes are grouped. Now is the time to forge your transitions into words!

There should be a transition between each paragraph of the paper that introduces what the new paragraph is about and how it relates to the previous one. An effective way to transition is by using the following format: clause that references the claim in the previous paragraph (making a smooth transition between one claim and the next) + comma + topic sentence of next paragraph:

  • “In contrast to Marsha’s heartfelt feelings toward her sister in the first half of the book, in the second half they dissolve, only to be replaced by anger…”
    Here the words “in contrast” tell the reader that the text after the comma will be in juxtaposition to the text in front of the comma. Marsha’s relationship with her sister has changed, and this transition cues the reader that the next paragraph will be about anger in their relationship.
  • “Similar to how Tom dealt with the dragon the first time, he…”
    The words “similar to” indicate that Tom handled the dragon using the same technique twice Here, the reader is prepared to learn about how Tom dealt with the dragon the second time around, and how that was similar to the first time.
  • “Despite all that Tony did for Robin, she…”
    “Despite” indicates that there will be a shift in the second part of the sentence. The reader is prepared to hear about how Robin verbally abused Tom (or some other negative action) in the latter paragraph despite the fact that Tony did a lot for her.

Transitions should be used within paragraphs too. They help lead your reader down your intended path. Here’s a list of useful transitions (provided by UNC):

Here are a couple examples:

  • “Jay Gatsby spares no expense at his extravagant Saturday night parties, as seen when…”
    Here, the phrase “as seen when” transitions your reader from your statement at the beginning of the sentence to a quote that will fit nicely at the end.
  • Steven’s behavior towards his family members is generally affable, but he treats only his parents with utmost respect.
    Here, the use of the world “but” indicates that the second half of the sentence will modify the first half. In this example, “but” helps the author refine the argument. Steven doesn’t treat everyone in his as best as he can. He treats his parents with his best behavior.

Tip: The transitions can also be used to transition between paragraphs.

 

5) Avoiding plagiarism

SUMMARY:

  • Make sure that the sources you cite in your paper are quoted or paraphrased correctly.
  • Don’t have too much of your paper’s text be from a source other than yourself.

LINKS:

Your essay should be well supported with credible sources, but you don’t want too much of your paper to be written by another person. Your teacher wants to hear your own insight. The sources you reference in your paper should be cited correctly (paraphrased or directly quoted). If an idea is not your own, don’t take credit for it!

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary plagiarizing means to:

  • Steal and pass off the ideas or words of another as one’s own
  • Use another’s production without crediting the source
  • Commit literary theft
  • Present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source

All of the following are considered plagiarism:

  • Turning in someone else’s work as your own
  • Copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  • Failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
  • Giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • Changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • Copying so many ideas or words from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not

How to structure your Essay

 

One effective suggestion for structuring an argument papers is:

  1. Introduction: State what you’re going to tell them.
  2. Body: Tell them.
  3. Conclusion: State what you just told them. 

*When it comes to structuring your essay, always check with your assignment outline to make sure you are following your professor’s instructions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

The introduction is the broad beginning of the paper that answers three important questions for the reader:

  1. What is this paper about?
  2. Why I should read it?
  3. What arguments will I hear?

 

The best way to do this is:

  • Set the context –provide background and general information about the topic. Explain the situation so your reader can make sense of the topic and the arguments you make and support.
  • State why your main topic is important –make the reader care and keep reading. Your goal is to create an interesting, clear, and convincing essay people will want to read and discuss
  • State your thesis –you need a sentence or two stating the position you will support.

 

We will discuss Thesis Statement Writing in the next section. 

 

 

The Middle Paragraphs - Your Arguments and your  evidence

You can have more than 3 arguments and you can take more than 1 paragraph to explain your argument. 

Each paragraph is one idea - you can explain your idea and provide evidence to prove it (with quotes and paraphrasing of your books, articles, interviews etc). You can also prove your argument with statistics and data. 

 

 

 

 

 

You Paragraphs can look like this example of an inverted Paragraph Pyramid. (Going from the general to the specific)

i. The General Information: introduction, topic sentence, etc

  ii. Focus the direction:  how it applies to the argument.

iii. Getting more specific: showing evidence

iv. More Supporting details.

v. Conclusion &
quick wrap
up

 

 

Conclusion

 

Now that you have moved from the general to the specific, your conclusion should begin pulling back to more general information that restates the main points of your argument.

Conclusions may also call for action or future research possibilities.

The following outline may help you conclude your paper:

  • Briefly summarize your topic and why it is important,
  • Repeat your thesis/claim,
  • Address any opposing viewpoints and explain why readers should align with your position,
  • Call for action or overview future research possibilities.

Remember don’t try to bring in new points or end with a different conclusion!

 

With photos courtesy of Massey University http://owll.massey.ac.nz/assignment-types/essay-planning-and-structure.php

 

 


Thesis Statement 

The thesis statement forms the core of the essay. It is a direct answer to your assignment question, or response to your assignment topic. It is usually only one sentence long.

Example: 

If you have been given the assignment question, “Are mother and baby programs beneficial for infant development?” your thesis statement could begin:

“Mother and baby programs are beneficial for babies because they increase language development, promote maternal bonding and improve infant health."  

Your position is that...... Mother and baby programs are good.... and you have 3 examples to prove it: increased language development, more maternal bonding and improved infant health.

 

Your Thesis takes a side!

Your thesis is more than just a general statement about your main idea. It needs to establish a clear position that you will support with evidence (your library sources).

Bad Example: The Return-to-Work program is funded by the government for workers with disabilities. 

Better Example: The Return-to-Work program is not beneficial to workers with disabilities because of the following 3 reasons.........

 

Your thesis can evolve!

If you pick a position at the beginning of your class, it's perfectly ok to change or "evolve" your position. The finding evidence stage of your essay ( when you read through books/articles or talk to experts) might prompt you to change your position, narrow it down to one idea or go down a different path.  

Beginning Thesis:  All drugs are bad for all major cities because they are addictive and….
 

After research Thesis:  The rise in the use methamphetamine is a concern for Toronto Public Health because….

 

Constructing a Thesis

Look out for the following when creating your thesis statement:

  • A thesis is not an announcement of the subject:

Bad Example: My subject is on racial profiling in the Toronto Police Force

Better Example: The use of racial profiling by the Toronto Police Force is harmful for community relations because.........(your three or four points)

  • A thesis is not a statement of absolute fact:

Bad Example: J.K Rowling is the author of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Better Example: In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J.K Rowling uses the following metaphors........

  • A thesis is not the whole essay:

A thesis is your main idea/claim/problem-solution expressed in a single sentence or a combination of sentences.

  • A good thesis is concise – it gets to the main point(s):

Bad Example: The Return-to-Work program was first instituted at Fresh and Company in 1999 and served 20 employees and has been effective because of its vision to do the following……

Better Example: The Return-to-Work program at Fresh and Company is effective because ……

  • A good thesis is specific:

Bad Example: All drugs are bad for all major cities because they are addictive and….

Better Example: The rise in the use methamphetamine is a concern for Toronto Public Health because…..

Return to Guide Contents

0 Replies to “In An Essay Help You Guide My Path”

Lascia un Commento

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *