UNI SP4 Study Period 4 2014

NET102 Essay Writing

Internet Studies 102 : The Internet and Everyday Life : Week 5
Essay Writing and Perspective

You will need to read and do the activities on this page (including the linked sites) as part of your studies for this unit. We advise that these should be done before submitting your essay plan. You should also revisit this section for your final essay.

This topic covers the following aspects of writing essays:
Writing and Perspective
Essays
Curtin's Policies on Plagiarism and Collusion
Readings
Activities
Common Mistakes

Writing Perspective

Throughout this unit, we have attempted to emphasise the importance of perspective – how a topic is written about and viewed depending on the positioning of the person that is assessing it.
Three main perspectives are employed:

Personal experience - where you are encouraged to value, but critically assess, the way you see issues and events from your own experience and individual contexts.

Public debate and discourse - where we look at how events and issues are reported, made ‘public’, in ways that transform the ‘experiences’ into material that reflects discursive norms and expectations

Academic critique - where we are to explore assumptions, not take things for granted, to look beyond both the ‘I’ of personal experience and the ‘we’ of normative society (the first 2 perspectives)

Reviewing the sources, lecture and discussions for your topic, identify the different perspectives employed and evaluate their value. You might find, for instance, similarities and differences in the different perspectives, and the ways in which these are supported by evidence or reasoning. Work through from 1 to 3, identifying the main points arising from these different perspectives (and sources), and then, at the end of the process, write notes about the final position you are adopting. You are welcome to raise questions about this with your tutor and fellow students.

Essays

Essay writing is an important skill in the Humanities. If you are studying in the Humanities and/or Social Sciences, you are likely to be spending a great deal of time writing essays throughout your degree, so it is important to master this genre of writing. Out of your assignments in this unit, two are essays, which present a great opportunity for practice.

One of the common issues that students in their first year have to grapple with is how an academic essay written for a university course may differ from their past understanding of essay writing. For instance, essays for high school displaying good, comprehensive understanding of the topics, which are organised well and grammatically correct will tend to obtain an A. However, the same paper will not receive this grade in university, because, to receive a good grade, an essay will have to present an argument about the topic (thesis), must display critical thinking and analyse the issues in depth. Academic essays also need to clearly indicate when ideas and material have been drawn from other sources, and have set formats for how to do this (referencing), which is often not taught, or not taught comprehensively enough, in previous learning.

There are other reasons besides grades, of course. Essay writing is a great way to practice written expression, in particular, to be able to develop a complex argument about a topic and persuade the reader via a well-structured, cohesive and supported piece of writing. Good written expression is critical in most jobs for graduates. Hence, it is important to begin familiarising yourself with the essay format and the processes involved in creating a good essay.

Writing essays is something that people usually need a few attempts to perfect. While it may be discouraging at first if you don’t get it right from the first go, if you pay attention to the feedback you receive for your first essay, and work on the areas you need to improve, your grades and skill with writing should reflect your effort. If you receive feedback you don’t understand fully, do not hesitate to ask, and do return to this page when revising for your final essay.

Curtin’s Policies on Plagiarism and Collusion

Curtin prohibits collusion and plagiarism:

Collusion means an agreement with another person to deceive others. Two or more students who agree to plagiarise in some way are said to be colluding. It can occur if two or more students work together on an assignment that is meant to be individually completed and assessed (also referred to as “collaborating too closely”). If the outcome is deception about the ownership or authorship of work submitted, students can be accused of plagiarism (Centre for Academic Integrity).

Within the context of this unit, collusion is deemed to have occurred if students submit identical assignments, meaning, passages with identical writing, so much so that they no longer can be considered the work of an individual student. While helping each other out with the assignments is encouraged, students are advised that one way to avoid being accused of collusion is to avoid using the same wording and to explore points of similarity and difference in their discussions.

Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of the work of others. When using the ideas and wording of other sources, it is very important that you indicate to the reader that these are not your own but obtained from elsewhere. This is for many reasons:

Referencing provides the reader of your work with the information required to be able to check on the sources you have used. The reader may agree with your interpretation of the ideas or may choose to disagree with you, but either way it is necessary that you provide them with the means to make their own judgements. It allows your tutor/lecturer to determine where you have taken your ideas from, how widely you have read about the topic and to decide how well you have understood the resources and been able to incorporate different ideas into your own understanding. If your work contains exceptionally well-written text and innovative ideas but has no citations or references, your tutor may well question its authenticity (Students’ Guidelines for Avoiding Plagiarism, p. 6).

READ

Essay Writing Module in the Supplementary Modules for Internet Studies Students
This module was prepared as part of Internet Studies’ additional help for its students and offers concise advice and information on essay writing. Focus at first on the following: procedure, the essay model (structure of an essay), thesis, paragraphing and topic sentences, and particularly what the introductions and conclusions should contain.

Referencing Module, also in the Supplementary Modules

Curtin Library’s APA 6th edition Guide http://libguides.library.curtin.edu.au/content.php?pid=141214&sid=1335391
The “Steps Involved in Referencing” section will be useful in the early stages as there is certain information you need to provide about your sources that might be time-consuming or inconvenient to locate later. When you draft the essay, the other material on reference lists and in-text citations will be important to help you correctly cite your sources.

DO

Tutorial discussion and portfolio: compose a draft thesis for your essay. If you have not picked an essay topic yet, use any of the topics and formulate a thesis about it. Exchange your thesis statements and help the other students in your class refine their thesis further: are the statements too vague or difficult to support, could they be more developed/complex, how are they going to support their statements in the body of their essay, and so forth. On campus students may work in groups, external students may want to start individual threads for each topic.

Read MyFirstEssay. Use the marking rubric at the end of the essay and give it mark. Next, comment on the essay, its strengths and shortcomings in your tutorial. Also address what the argument was, how well it was developed and supported.

Work through the following pages by the Curtin Library:

Understanding referencing

Evaluating Resources

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them!

Not using an introduction in which you briefly lay out for the reader what your main conclusions are, how you will demonstrate why you believe them, and engage the reader’s attention.
Solution: write the introduction last, once you know exactly what it is you argue and conclude, and when the essay is finished, make sure the first paragraph is an introduction to YOUR essay!

Not being consistent throughout the essay in their approach, views and arguments
Solution: go back over your work to make sure you haven’t changed your mind halfway through.

Writing “sweeping generalisations” that, very easily, can be shown to be incorrect (for example “These days, it’s easy for everyone to access to the Internet via the World Wide Web”)
Solution: be more precise and careful in how you write; add qualifiers to such generalisations (The WWW has made it easier for many people in Australia to access the Internet). Back up your claims with referenced examples, or supporting evidence.

Not giving reasons for claims ( example “The WWW has made it easier for many people in Australia to access the Internet”)
Solution: write to make your point and back it up “The WWW has made it easier for many people in Australia to access the Internet because it requires much less technical sophistication than previous Internet applications”

Apostrophes:
Solution: never write it's. If you mean it is then write it is; if you mean of it then write its. It's cold today = It is cold today; The cost of its operation" = The cost of the operation of it

Not referencing properly because they either (a) use the words of someone else and don’t acknowledge it (cheating) or (b) don’t realise that, even if they are not quoting exactly, they still need to reference where they got the idea from.
Solution: whether you quote exactly or simply use the ideas from somewhere else, reference: provide details of the book/ article and the page number if appropriate in the body of the essay NOT just in a bibliography

Not using signposts, and thus the essay moves from one point to the next with no sense, to the reader, that it is connected.
Solution: Include short phrases and words that create a “flow” between and within paragraphs (ie, “Given the problem just outlined, it is important also to consider”). The reader needs to be told where they are going and why.

Relatedly, paragraphs that are too long, too short, not clearly relevant.
Solution: Revisit Dawson’s powerpoint on paragraphing, and also work through this site on Constructing Effective Paragraphs.

Not including a conclusion that ties your essay together.
Solution: go over your essay making sure your argument is clear. Then reassert this in your conclusion explaining briefly what it is that you have done/what is the answer to the question.

NEXT: Reflecting on Module One »