How to write an essay

How to write an essay

Writing an essay is a big project. What should the essay contain? How to get started? What should the language be like? Here you get tips and advice along the way.

Writing an essay is a big project and there is a lot to say about how to do my paper it. We can not cover everything here, which is why we have made a list of reading tips at the end of this chapter. Your department may also have its essay guide. Read it carefully! As this text is aimed at all students at Stockholm University, we keep our advice very general. Therefore, you must find out for yourself exactly how your department wants the essay.

In some departments, there are given topics to choose from when it’s time to write an essay. If you do not receive any suggestions on topics, you must choose one yourself. Then it can be good to choose onethat you are interested in – but not too interested. Writing an essay can be a struggle. If you choose a topic that you are interested in, it will be a little easier. But if you choose your absolute favorite subject that you have reveled in since you learned to read, it can pose problems in terms of fact selection and objectivity. Fairly interested is therefore best!

which is close to what you have studied during any module

recommended by a previous essay writer. Almost all essays end with proposals for further research in their field. Older essays can therefore be a goldmine. However, do not go back more than about five years if there are newer essays.

Writing an essay is, as I said, a big project. This means that you will probably have to work with it in a different way than when writing less extensive texts. It also means that you will probably go through stages of uncertainty during the work. Sometimes, as an essay writer, you do not know where you are going or how to get there. These are natural parts of the process. Here are some tips to help you along the way:

Read up on your topic

You must be well-versed in the subject you are writing about. Therefore, devote time in the beginning to reading widely in the field. Then it is good to start from a more general textbook and then read up on the most famous research in the field.

Read essays on the subject

By reading other, good essays, you get a grip on language, outline, formalities, and much more. A really good role model can serve as a template for your work. So read and think about how the text is structured and how it works.

Plan the work

It is easy to think that you have plenty of time if the submission is not to take place until several months from now. But you will thank yourself if you start right away and plan your time carefully. As in your other studies, you should first make an overall schedule for the entire period. Enter all deadlines in your calendar. Then break the work down into smaller parts and give yourself your deadlines. What you enter in the calendar can then, for example, be:  

  • Search for scientific articles.
  • Read and summarize articles.
  • Write preliminary problem and purpose.
  • Select material to examine.
  • Write about the material.
  • Write the preliminary introduction.
  • Select method.
  • Write about the method.
     

Create a document and start writing immediately

Create the document that will be your essay on the very first day. Then you can enter things as and where you want in the document. If your department has an essay template, enter the headings from it. Otherwise, you can use the headings we have below, under the parts of the essay. Then start writing right away. So far, everything is a draft and does not have to be “good” or “finished”, but by writing you develop your ideas and it is easier to change the text that already exists than to write new.

Also, write where you want in the document. An essay is not written chronologically. So you do not have to start with the introduction and end with the discussion, but can write a line here and a paragraph there, as you come up with ideas or do your study.

Choose the right sources

When you go through previous research, it is important to choose the right texts to start from. You simply have to be sure that it is good to research. Therefore, find out

  • who the author is: Is it an established researcher? Does it belong to a research institution? What has he published before?
  • who is behind it: If it is an article – is it published in an established scientific journal? If it’s a book – which publisher is behind it? Is it an organization or authority that stands behind the content? If there is a source on the internet – who is the sender? How reliable do they seem to be? Could they have any other purpose than to publish objective research?
  • if the text is quality controlled: Scientific articles must be peer-reviewed
  • if it is an academic text: Does it contain an abstract, background, method part, results, discussion, and reference list?
  • if relevant: Is the material relevant? Is there any later material that disproves the results? Is the content relevant to your topic?
     

Note your sources

Keeping track of your sources is very important when writing an essay. Always take careful notes of what you read. If you want, you can also use reference management software to keep track of your sources. You can read more about this on the library’s website.

Content before language

If you are not an extremely experienced writer, it may be a good idea to think about the content first. The important thing is to get what you want to say. Correcting the language may wait until later. If you are going to submit a draft to your supervisor, it is good to point out in such cases that you work in that way.

Prepare supervision meetings

Your department will assign you a supervisor that you will meet a few times during the thesis work. You must prepare yourself for the supervisor meetings so that you get answers to the questions you have.

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