Subject: Topics in technology and society
These points about writing your research essay are intended to give you some insights into what constitutes a scholarly paper along with presenting some ideas as to why a scholarly essay is constituted the way that it is. It is by no means to be construed as a comprehensive guide to essay-writing – you can access more information on Student Online Services (SOS) or Google for such guides if you wish – but is meant, rather, to present some key factors and express them in a manner that many published guides do not. Your formal scholarly research essay needs to follow certain timeworn practices in order for it to fulfill its object of offering its reader insights that are truthful. Most of the academic articles included as required reading in HUMN 422 are examples of scholarly writing that you can take as an example of how to write your research essay.
An essay, however, not only serves to inform and convince the reader with knowledge and insights, it serves as a structure that allows you, as its author, to understand the topic that you are writing about better. ‘Better’ means more objectively, rationally, logically, and clearly. The ability to write good scholarly writing is, in many respects, the same ability that you use for good insightful, scholarly thought.
Convincing Information and Analysis
Formal scholarly essays are constituted so that they are objectively true. Objectivity is in contrast to other forms of writing, such as a subjective essay written from the author’s idiosyncratic individual biases, or an exercise in rhetoric. Rhetoric is writing meant primarily to persuade rather than to inform, and has a long tradition in Western classical scholarship. A formal scholarly essay, however, must appeal to the intellect rather than the passions. A well-written scholarly work is one where every statement, and every sentence is somehow proven to be true to the reader.
To offer this kind of objective ‘proof’ when you write your essay you really have only a handful of possibilities. These are as follows:
- Use logical argument: Logic is the science of the formal principles of reasoning that demonstrates a sequence of thoughts that lead to a valid thought. For example, the statement: “All hippies have long hair”, and the statement that “John is a hippy”, forces, through logic, to state that “John has long hair”. In your own use of logic, you may have to present a somewhat muted version of this type of reasoning, but the “Most hippies … John is … John most likely has” logic still has validity.
- Use examples: In your essay, particularly if it involves abstract conceptualizations, ‘truth’ can often best be established by offering examples of what insight you are offering the reader. Examples can be weak or strong supporters of your insight, depending upon how generalizable they are. If, for instance, I write “rear-engined cars are considerably more dangerous than front-engined cars” I can offer an analysis of the pendulum-like weight distribution of rear-engined cars versus other configurations, but I can also write that: “Rear-engined Porsche 911s are frequently known to be in single-vehicle accidents” I have sort of offered ‘proof’. Whether or not that ‘proof’ is acceptable to the reader or not, depends on a number of factors, including whether the rear suspension of the Porsche 911 was to blame, the accident statistics are believable, and so on. One thing that examples do accomplish, however, is that they ‘concretize’ the abstract concept so that a reader can envision and understand it. Using examples is often the best way to explain a concept. Using examples is really just about using the principles of deductive and inductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning takes an example and makes a generalization from it. Its credibility relies on how representative the example is of other examples. Deductive reasoning would apply a generalized idea, such as an abstract concept (e.g. rear-engined cars) and apply it to a specific example (e.g. the Porsche 911).
- Cite an outside authority: Most interesting scholarly papers attempt to add to the existing body of knowledge, and do so by constructing their knowledge on the foundation of previous knowledge. This is how progress happens in many instances, just as technological innovation tends to build on past technologies. If you are to make a case for an insight, analysis, or point in your essay, you can establish its credibility by citing other credible authors and their writings. This requires, however, that the sources you cite are considered, and are seen to be considered, truthful and reliable. What constitutes a valid source is described in the links listed below: “Evaluation During Reading” and “Annotated Bibliography”. It is sufficient to use a citation format – such as APA required in this course (though other formats are as good, and arguably better) to establish this type of substantiation in your essay.
The one thing you should ask yourself, after writing every single statement and sentence, is: “Did I offer convincing substantiation of this point to the reader?” You really need to do this for your entire essay for it to fulfill the requirements of good scholarship. Keep in mind too, that most readers will tend, out of simple human nature, to disbelieve everything you say if they should stumble across one thing you say that they think is untrue.
Essay Body Structure
Good structure of an essay follows the same rules as good writing. Generally paragraphs should be used to isolate different ideas from one another, and each paragraph needs to follow upon the previous paragraph with some kind of connecting idea. Connecting ideas are often indicated by connecting words and phrases such as ‘however’, ‘as in the previous argument’, ‘in contrast’, ‘accepting this premise we conclude’, and so on. The connections, that can be stated either at the beginning or ends of paragraphs (or both) are numerous and amenable to creative writing styles.
The structure of your essay sometimes is usefully divided not just by well-defined paragraphs, but also by sections delineated by headings.
Every scholarly essay requires an introduction and a conclusion, even if these sections are not overtly labelled as such. The conclusion really is a summation of what was said, proven, and/or discovered, in the body of the essay relative to the thesis question. The conclusion needs to restate the thesis question in some manner (that is, it need not and perhaps should not be verbatim), and say, in concentrated form just what the essay said about it. One common mistake is to introduce new ideas in the conclusion. You should avoid this. As a general rule, you as the writer should only include in the conclusion what is found in the essay itself. The only exception to this is that it is sometimes appropriate to indicate further areas of inquiry and study in the conclusion. The common saw about the structure of a good speech is that it “tells the audience what you are going to tell them; tells them; tells the audience what you told them.” The principles of a good essay are quite similar.
Your goal in writing your essay is to express ideas, often quite complex ideas, in a manner that is easily understood by an educated reader. Your form of substantiation, your essay structure, and the presentation of your essay should enhance and not impede your readers’ understanding. And again, good writing is a skill that enables good thinking. Your essay may be a most brilliant piece of insightful writing, but unless you present your essay well, its ideas may be overshadowed or ignored. There are a few basics about essay presentation that you should follow:
- Title Page: Your essay requires a title page that includes your essay’s title, your name, the name of the course, and the date. These should be centred and neat.
- Abstract: This summarizes your paper’s key findings in a succinct form.
- Number Pages: You will be formatting your essay as a document (usually a Word Document) and so it will have pages. In the digital world, some documents don’t have pages. The title page and the first page should not have page numbers written on them, subsequent pages should (starting, therefore, at “3”.
- Fonts: General practice is to use serif fonts for text, and san-serif fonts for titles. One common preference is for 12-point Palatino linotype for text, and 12, 14, and 16-point bolded Arial for titles. Non-capitalized serif fonts are easiest to read because the reader’s eye quickly sees the overall shape of the word. ALL-CAPITALS and sans-serif fonts, do not have that easy shape. Fonts should be in a very dark colour (black, dark teal, etc.) and the background should always be white.
- Bibliography: You require a bibliography (not your annotated bibliography) for your essay. It should include primary sources and scholarly sources. You should include as many bibliographic references as you need; however, it is hard to imagine that you would have fewer than 15 or so for a 5,000-word paper.
- What and How to Cite: Cite all ideas that are not common knowledge and are not yours. These need not be direct quotations. Cite all direct quotations. Quotations less than four lines should be included within “quotation marks”. Quotations greater than four lines should be indented on both the left and right-hand sides, and single-space.
- Citation Format: Your essay is to be formatted, as a standard imposed by RCC, in APA citation style. There are good reasons not to use APA style, but it has, for better or worse, become the standard used by most academic presses.
- Photos and Illustrations: Our digitized universe, and the fact that you will be submitting your essay as an electronic document, means that photos and illustrations are technically easy to include. While scholarly essays traditionally do not include photos and illustrations, you should feel free to include any that you deem appropriate in terms of furthering the scholarly expression of your essay. They should, however, be formatted in terms of size, location, and citation.
- Word Count: The word counts for assignments in HUMN 421 are specified within very stringent limits. As an andragogic principle, the discipline of ‘drawing inside the lines’ is a useful one to learn. A trick that often works well for writing with a really clear, concise, punchy style is to over-write your number of words, and then trim sentence-by-sentence.
- Spelling and Grammar: There is no excuse, given computer programs, to misspell. Grammar programs tend to pick up many faults as well. Just do not make mistakes!
- Proof Reading: Almost nobody can write perfectly. Most people cannot see their own writing mistakes. Asking someone to proofread your essay assignment before submitting it does not constitute cheating, but rather, is something you should expect to do.
- Contractions: Contractions should not be used in formal writing.
- Words: Use the most specific words possible and avoid the weak generalized expressions.
1. Topic is Is a child’s development helped or harmed by digitized technologies? Explain.
2. References should be 8 At least,
3. List of headings should be 5 at least excluding introduction and conclusion
4. The introduction section for a 5,000-word paper would probably be only two or three paragraphs long.
5. Please review all the paper
6. Total paper should be for 5000 words.