Monday, October 18, 2010

Some Essay Feedback

My Personal Pet Peeve

then and than are not the same. Make sure you have the right one.

Also watch for their, there and they are (they're is not acceptable in an academic essay - nor are any other contractions such as you're, it's, they'd, .... I use Word's Find and Replace tool to check for these, as I've I have been caught more than once).

And your and you are.... and so on.

Citation styles

MLA, APA, CMS: whichever of these you use has very specific rules for title
information (right down to where it should be and in what order), essay layouts
(margins, spacing, font), and citations (in-text and otherwise).

These citation styles are all extremely nit-picky, and creativity is NOT rewarded - and you will have to learn at least one; so you might as well start now. Seel the links over ----->

(I did not deduct marks specifically relating to citations this time - unless you didn't even try! - but I will be next time)

Top tip for editing:

good - read your work out loud. You will
catch some errors and run-on sentences.
better - read your work out
oud to someone else (and let
them ask questions). You will catch most
grammar errors, and a lot more clarity
best - have someone else read your essay to you. You will catch almost everything.

Most frequent issues in these papers

  1. "Dove Campaign for Beauty" not formatted as title in the text. I would put it in quotes (as a shorter work) but italics would work as well. (NB I use MLA)
  2. Broad claims that you can not possibly know/prove. Avoid stating what you think to be true as a true fact. For example, any sentence with any of the following words is going to beg to be challenged: always, never, only (even if they are only implied)
  3. Claims to know things that can not be known. Example: The Dove campaign thinks that... first of all, campaigns don't think, people do. Secondly, you can not possibly know what the people behind the campaign think, mean, plan, intend.... unless you get it right from them - and in that case it must be cited.
  4. Too much description/opinion, not enough analysis/argument. Revisit the links posted in WebCt! And think SO WHAT? Once you've answered the "so what?" try to anticipate your reader's possible objections to your arguments and head them off at the pass.

One more tip

Learn your word processor! You will need to know how to change paragraph
spacing and fonts and so on, and how to insert headers, footnotes and page
numbers. It will also benefit you to learn how to set up your documents so that
they can generate a Table of Contents or Index for when you need those.
Templates can also be very useful and save you time.

Some people figure out what they need to know and spend the time to learn it
at the beginning of their academic careers.

Others do things the hard way over and over and use up WAY more time doing
things the hard way over and over than it would have cost them to go find a workshop or a tutorial or a friend that knows and learn how to do the things they need to know.

Trust me - it will save you time in the long run.

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