Writing a good essay is vital in any area of knowledge. It is an exercise that tests our analytical skills and perseverance. Achieving a good result guarantees that we will be part of the conversation on a subject that interests us and on which we can contribute. Here are the seven tips on how to do this properly:
Where to start?
Step 1: Identify the topic.
If the topic is given to you by a teacher, there is not much more to add. However, if you have a margin to choose it, it will always work in your favor to opt for an area of knowledge you are familiar with, or that attracts your attention. Motivation plays a key role when it comes to embarking on this adventure of knowledge.i
Step 2: Check the background.
In the Internet age, the background on any topic can be infinite. How do you do a high-quality and manageable job in this context? By using filters that ensure the reliability of the sources. These filters are applied by asking yourself questions: Who is the author of the document you are reading? What university or organization is their work linked to? Do they have a profile on professional networks such as LinkedIn? If you find articles without sources, you cannot consider them valid for analyzing the state of the art of the topic you are going to discuss.
This also applies to video essays and even podcasts, which can also fall into your area of research. All must cite sources in their descriptions.
Step 3: Talk to experts whenever possible.
If you also have the opportunity to talk to a reference source directly, you will add to the quality of your work.
Step 4: Identify the objective of your research.
In the previous steps, you have probably asked yourself questions about your chosen topic. Indirectly, you are assessing the angle of your essay. Or perhaps the question was there from the beginning of this process. Whatever the case, what is your thesis? “Which side of the thesis will I do my essay on?”
Suppose your topic is the Python programming language, for example, and you have already read up on it and even talked to expert voices. In that case, you may wonder how this language can be taught in schools and, if so, what is the most effective method of doing so. In your essay, you will need to validate your thesis or, conversely, come up with an alternative.
Generate a solid structure
Step 5: Structure your arguments.
Don’t get carried away at this point in your research. For your essay to be read, it must have a clear and orderly structure. You may be familiar with the “introduction, middle, and end” structure of short stories; in this case, the structure is similar, but the register we are dealing with is the furthest from fantasy.
You may be surprised at this point, but it is advisable to write the introduction when your essay is ready. You will be more confident in writing it then, and you will define the aim of your research and the process you have gone through to complete it without leaving any loose ends.
The middle part of your essay should reflect your research process in an orderly fashion. Here you should cite your sources, using systems such as the Chicago Manual of Style, and narrate your findings so that you can then validate or guide your thesis based on this evidence.
As the name suggests, the conclusion is the section in which you conclude your process and showcase your findings. You can also point out the ways for others to pursue further work in the field and thus enrich the conversation and debate on the topic that has occupied you. And, in this way, you will become another source to be cited in a future essay.
Step 6: Rest the text and review it.
Just as it is not advisable to study the day before the exam, it is even less advisable to write a quick essay and hand it in without revising it. It is best to write, let the text rest, and revise it afterward. In other words, make sure you take your time. And always use resources such as online proofreading software to avoid typos and mistakes, which could undermine the authority of your work.
Step 7: Ask yourself these questions.
To make steady progress in your research, you must take some time, not only once you have finished your research but also between sections. Take a step back and observe, to correct in time if necessary. This is done by asking some specific questions to assess your work better. Some of these questions might be:
- Is the focus of my topic clear?
- Do I have evidence for these arguments?
- Am I citing my sources correctly?
- Do the conclusions correspond to the development of the body of the essay?