Academic Essay Guidelines For this essay, you will be bringing together all of the skills that you have been developing over the course of this semester. The Rhetorical Analysis should have helped you to be able to read and evaluate someone?s written argument. The Response Essay should have helped you to develop a response to an author?s perspective on an issue, and the Research Project should have helped you begin to understand the research process beyond just gathering a bunch of direct quotes to stick into your essays. With that said, this will be a more traditional academic essay that allows you to enter the academic discussion about your given topic, by researching and clearly understanding the wide range of points of view and then presenting a well-considered, rational argument (i.e. point of view). The essay should follow MLA style requirements, should be at least 5 pages in length (not counting the Works Cited page), and should have at least 4 sources used in the essay. You must have a properly formatted Works Cited page as well and use in-text citations. Essentially, this essay should demonstrate what you have learned over the course of this semester. You will need to assert your opinion (central argument), interact with a variety of others? opinions, address and counter opposing viewpoints, and engage your readers so that they can consider the argument that you are making. The essay should be at least 4 full pages, typed, double-spaced, with one-inch margins. Be sure to have a title for this that moves beyond the obvious: Academic Essay?yawn! Your audience is other academics and educated readers, who would have some level of awareness about your topic, but do not assume that they know everything that you should know about your argument, so be clear, focused, and provide them with a logical, rational point of view to take under consideration. I strongly urge you to write an outline for this essay. An outline can help in a few different ways. It can help you to create a well organized essay. It can help you to see where and how you will interact with your source material, and it can force you to look realistically at the strengths and weakness of your central argument. With this in mind, think long and hard about what your argument is. If you do have a focused central argument, then this paper can (and potentially will) unravel before your eyes. THE OUTLINE: Write out your argument in a sentence or two. This way you can stay focused on proving that idea. Introduction: What information do you need to provide readers to develop and build their level of knowledge and understanding about your topic and argument? Give readers a general, but brief summary of the viewpoints that surround this topic. (See the Part I of the textbook, if you can?t remember how). Lead them into your central argument?no, it doesn?t have to be the last sentence of the introductory paragraph, but you want to let readers know where this essay is heading or they won?t continue to read it! Make sure that you transition smoothly to your first body paragraph. Body Paragraphs: Obviously, you should have a direction (central argument) in which you are taking this paper, so what are the points that you want to make? List those so that you can see if they have a logical and smooth flow. If they do, then below each point, write in what source(s) you plan to use. Doing so, can also help you see if your essay is going to flow and be organized. Go through each claim and decide if you want the focus to be something that supports or counters it. Remember that you are ?building? an argument and that each piece of it needs to relate and connect to the next. Many student essays that I have read over the years try to cram too much into one paragraph?Keep them focused and specific. Continue listing and developing the outline until you have nothing else to say and don?t forget to address opposing viewpoints?See Part II of the textbook if you have forgotten! Conclusion: One of the most important and most frustrating things about writing is the conclusion. I often read conclusions where it is abundantly clear that students decide that they are finished, and so they make some blanket statement about their topic and walk away. That can have a rather abrupt or jarring effect on readers. Or the conclusion that just re-states everything that has already been said in the essay?that is so boring and it doesn?t do anything to motivate your reader in any way! In fact, most readers will wonder why on earth they wasted their time reading the essay, which in turn defeats your argument right at the end, when you want readers to go away pondering the merits of your argument. So, remember that the textbook discusses the idea of addressing the ?So What?? and ?Who Cares?? questions. Think about what you want readers to be left thinking, feeling, or reacting to. Why should they care about your point of view? What makes it more important or significant than any other point of view? This is a perfect place for emotional appeal?not too heavy or overly dramatic?where you can reach out and touch someone, so to speak. All of things listed above pertain to your outline, but once you have developed that outline for yourself, then I think that you will find that the essay will be much more clearly and fully developed from the beginning, which will make your revision process a lot easier. DEADLINE FOR THIS ESSAY IS THE LAST OF CLASS!
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