1 School of Criminology and Criminal Justice Survival Guide for Essay Writing Success
2 PART 1: PREPARATION 1. PLANNING AND TIME MANAGEMENT Essay writing involves a combination of tasks that can become increasingly complex if not performed well and in an appropriate sequence. Follow the sequence outlined below. Each time you use it to complete an essay refine the process by adapting the steps in ways that best work for you. PREPARATION RESEARCH PLANNING Analyse the question 15mins. Brainstorm what you already know and relevant research areas 15 mins. Identify the appropriate research sources 20 mins Identify research terms for searching article databases and web 20mins. Take notes from sources, summarise and paraphrase, avoiding plagiarism 6 hours Essay Plan broad structure with paragraph topics 30 mins Details structure with sub points for each paragraph 1hour WRITING EDITING Introduction 45 mins Body 5 hours Conclusion 30 mins Edit 1 read for overall continuity and strength of argument 1 hour Edit 2 more refined readability, reader direction, and paragraph structure. Get feedback from a fellow student or friend 1 hour Edit 3 Correct use of transition words, grammar and spelling 30 mins Edit 4 Correct formatting and presentation 30 mins Make use of the Wall Planners that are made available to you in the first weeks of semester. These wall planners are a great way to see the year ahead and to map out what assessment items are coming up when. You can see when you will have competing demands and allow yourself enough time to complete each assessment item. Pick one up from outside the Campus Life offices, or the Co op Bookshop on each campus.
3 Wall Planner Example: 2. ANALYSE THE ESSAY/ ASSIGNMENT QUESTION Analysing the question will allow you to focus in on the right zones or areas to be researching. Be certain and clear about what information you want. Take the time to come to grips with the set question. It will usually contain three categories of information and your first initiative is to identify these KEY WORDS These indicate information central to the topic LIMITING WORDS These define or limit your approach to the topic INSTRUCTIONAL WORDS These tell you how to approach it. Use the glossary of instructional words below to gain an accurate understanding of what is expected in your essay. 2.1 Glossary of Instructional Words Analyse: Argue: Comment: Compare: Contrast: Criticise: Define: Describe: consider the various parts of the whole and describe the inter relationships among them. Present the case for and/or against a particular proposition. make critical observations about the subject matter; be careful not to cast too wide a net, or to write in too many generalisations. examine the objects in question with a view to demonstrating similarities. examine the objects in question for the purpose of demonstrating differences. give your judgement on the merit of theories or opinions, on the truth or facts and substantiate your judgement by a discussion of evidence. set down a precise meaning of a work or phrase, show that the distinctions inferred in the definition are necessary. investigate or examine an argument; sift and debate the topic; give reason for and
4 against the central argument. Discuss: Evaluate: Examine: Explain: Illustrate: Interpret: Justify: Outline: Relate: Review: State: present a point of view, that of others and/or your own. This is likely to entail thorough description and an emphasis on the most important points. appraise the worth of something in the light of its apparent truth or utility; test for assumptions. consider in depth and investigate implications assign meanings interpret and make clear the cause, origin or reasons. explain and clarify with examples, data and / or diagrams. bring out the meaning, clarify and make explicit. This usually involves judgment and evaluation. defend or show adequate grounds for decisions or conclusions. give the main points or general principles of a topic, omitting minor details, and emphasising structure and relationship. show how things are connected to each other and to what extent they affect each other. survey and examine critically the topic and the logic of the argument. formally set forth a position or declare definitely. Usually details and examples can be omitted. Specify details fully and clearly. Summarise: give a concise account of the chief points or substance of a matter, omitting details and examples. Trace: identify and describe the development or course of a topic, that is, present a history from some point or origin. [Source: Cloak, P. & Noad, P. (1994) Academic Writing Skills. Brisbane: The Centre for Crime Policy and Public Safety, Griffith University. P ] Common Mistake The question has not been answered. One of the greatest tragedies for students is submitting a well written essay that has not answered the question and thereby loses the greatest amount of marks. This usually happens at least once to every student! To save time and heart ache always spend time analysing every essay question and refer constantly back to the question during the research, writing and editing stages.
5 PART 2: RESEARCH SKILL 1. BRAINSTORM RELEVANT RESEARCH AREAS Brainstorm relevant research areas and what you already know on the topic. Write down everything that comes into your mind about the topic including what you know and any questions that arise. Use a checklist of perspectives to think about the topic. For example: social, political, economic, gender, ethnic and class. Identify knowledge gaps areas that you know nothing or little about. Circle items most relevant to the question. Prioritise the most important research areas by assigning 1s, 2s & 3s etc This step may remind you of your earlier school days, don t be put off this is a vital step that many university students don t bother completing. Perfecting this step is one of the keys to writing for academic success. Essay Topic: Capital Punishment Search Terms: Capital Punishment/ Death Penalty Capital Punishment and (effects) or (Harm) Capital punishment and (advantages) or (disadvantages) Capital punishment and (false convictions) (death penalty) and (DNA testing)(capital punishment) or (death penalty) and (interest groups) Capital Punishment Concept Map
6 Common Mistakes Frequently you will be required to put forward a position, thesis or argument. Remove your mental image of an argument being a fight, disagreement or slanging match. Also strip yourself of the black/white or right/wrong nature of argument. Academic arguments require you to evaluate all writers in the debate, work out what is valuable for each writer, select the writers who have a more comprehensive, course relevant approach and base your position on their work. Don t assume developing an argument requires you to come up with any new or startling position on the topic. Mostly, writing an argument requires you to recognise various writer positions, relate those to the course objectives and the specific writing task; then state what you believe to be the best positions with convincing explanations as to why. [Source: Cloak, P. & Noad, P. (1994) Academic Writing Skills. Brisbane: The Centre for Crime Policy and Public Safety, Griffith University. P ] Go Online and check out the INTERACTIVE CCJ ESSAY EXAMPLES, you will find an example of a essays that have received a High Distinction, Credit/Pass and a Fail grade. 2. RESEARCHING A TOPIC/QUESTION 2.1 Identify appropriate types of research sources for each research area. TEXTBOOKS Textbooks give an overview and often contain more detailed references and landmark studies to follow up on. BOOKS OF READINGS Books of readings usually contain a combination of journal articles and book chapters that are targeted to specific topics.within a course. JOURNALS Journals will be specific, often focusing on subtopics related to the larger essay topic. However review of current literature on the topic article addresses can often be found in the introduction section of the article. Journals are best for getting the most up to date information. REVIEW ARTICLES Review articles in journals give a more detailed overview of the specific research and mention key studies. ENCYCLOPEDIAS Encyclopaedias give a broad and usually brief overview.
7 2.2 Identify research terms to search for journal articles in the library computer databases. Start with the most obvious and direct terms Use words or phrases with similar meanings. An online thesaurus can be useful for finding words with similar meanings. If you have not already learn to use the Boolean Operators and, or, & not to refine your search entries. 2.3 Conduct searches and locate your sources This step will probably be repeated at least 2 or 3 times as you gain more knowledge about the topic and discover key references within sources you have already obtained. The librarians are available to help you with your search terms and many workshops are run on searching using the library systems, visit the Learning Services Desk in the library for more information. Scrutinise your course outline and course material (readings) for relevant material on the topic. This can save you considerable time by not having to track them down yourself and prevent you missing out on important material. Avoid plagiarism now take care with your notes! When taking notes for any reference source make sure to note down the full reference citation, page number and add quotation marks if you are copying the text word for word. This way you can decide to paraphrase or add this as a direct quote in your essay at a later stage. Take note of what your convenor has asked for, some times they will instruct you to use quotations sparingly. For more information about paraphrasing see the reference section of this survival guide. Common Mistakes It is easy to go racing off to the library without having done the preliminary steps. There is approximately 1 hour s work to be done before you set out to research. Valuable time can be wasted by not being selective about the types of resources you want and the specific information you need, leaving you bogged down in irrelevant information. More Assistance? In order to improve your researching skills you cannot beat the Library Research Tutorial at Griffith It includes modules on: Think about the Topic What Sort of Information Preparing to Search Library Catalogue Searching Databases World Wide Web Evaluating Resources
8 PART 3: ESSAY WRITING 1. STRUCTURE 1.1 Essay plan Broad structure with paragraph topics. Write a clear definition of what you are writing about (the topic) Define the limits/scope either chosen by you or set out in the question. List all the relevant subtopics that you have gathered from your research that flow from your thesis statement. Group them under various themes Organise the themes into a meaningful order eg. chronological sequence, history/order of development, most important to least important, general to specific etc. Each subtopic becomes the topic of a paragraph and has a main or introductory topic sentence related to it. 1.2 Detailed structure with sub points for each paragraph. For each paragraph topic you can ask yourself the following questions: What question am I going to answer in this paragraph? How can I best answer this question? What is the most important part of my answer? How can I make an introductory sentence from the most important part of my answer? What research findings, examples or expert opinions can I use to support my introductory sentence? How can I make this paragraph or essay interesting? Do I need more facts on this topic? Where can I find more facts on this topic? Your answers to the above questions can become the detailed structure for each paragraph. An important rule of thumb is: 1. Say what you are going to say in the Essay This happens in the INTRODUCTION to the essay and the introductory sentence to each paragraph. 2. Then actually say it This happens in the BODY of the essay and the body of each paragraph. It elaborates by giving examples and evidence. 3. Then say what you have said This happens in the CONCLUSION of the essay and in the last sentence of every paragraph. Good writers will quite blatantly guide the reader. For example: another aspect of this argument is..
9 2. WRITING 2.1 Writing There is a Formula An essay consists of four components, Introduction, Body, Conclusion and References Introduction The introduction is the key to a GOOD ESSAY and has four parts: 1. A clear definition of what you are writing about (the topic) and the most important concept(s) relevant to answering the question. 2. A statement of your argument. For example: This paper argues. The argument posited is.. It will be argued that.. In order to elucidate possibilities surrounding the cause of. This paper examines and discusses the various issues surrounding the problem. 3. An indication that you recognise the limits set out in the question 4. A brief description of the overall plan of the essay ie. the main sections or subtopics or themes of the essay. For example: This paper is divided into sections. Firstly.. is examined. Finally.. is analysed in light of.. Having done this, you will have accomplished two things: you have made your intentions very clear to the marker, and you have established your own guidelines for writing Body of Essay Good paragraphs: Are linked to each other and frequently to the essay topic either at the end of the previous paragraph or the beginning of the next. Have an introductory sentence that clearly outlines the particular subtopic or topic of the paragraph. Have sentences that logically support the subtopic sentence. These may be quotes from experts, research statistics, examples from research, detailed descriptions or other background information, or illustrative examples. Have a concluding sentence that summarises and draws a logical conclusion from the previous sentences. Use uncomplicated language and sentence structure. Both the first and last sentence in each paragraph can show transition or linkage. Transition examples for the last sentence in a paragraph The following. highlights.. How these basic components are connected with will now be considered.
10 These arguments will now be examined in sequence. (After an important quotation) this statement raises several important issues which require elaboration, but before doing so, some preliminary aspects need to be clarified. These opposing views will now be examined with the aim of considering not only how. are defined, but also how they describe.. However, from this analysis further points concerning emerge. Transition examples for the first sentence in a paragraph In contradiction to.. Up to this point a comparison of.. It is claimed that. Alternatively, it can be clearly demonstrated that. In broad outline much of this debate centres on The salient features of warrant closer examination. Finally.. Hence. In summary. [Source: Cloak, P. & Noad, P. (1994) Academic Writing Skills. Brisbane: The Centre for Crime Policy and Public Safety, Griffith University. P ] Common Mistakes Failure to explain why you are including particular material. You must show that you know how it relates to the essay. Keep coming back to the topic and your argument and remember to be quite blatant about the links for example, "Another aspect of this argument is..." Conclusion The conclusion is, in fact, an inversion of your introduction. Set out the topic and summarise the main points and your argument. Indicate what the essay has succeeded in showing. Remember that you cannot introduce any new material here, and your marker will not be impressed by smart or glib comments. Words for use in conclusions include: as a result, consequently, finally, hence, so that, therefore it can be seen, thus, in conclusion; this paper has shown that (argued that). 2.1 Forming an Argument Common Mistakes Generalisation: Either/or and oversimplification: Begging the question: (a) using your own limited experience to draw conclusions, as in assuming all dogs are vicious because the two you owned were; (b) using narrow samples; (c) asserting that everyone believes or thinks what in reality is our own belief or thoughts. Offering only two narrow options in a debate without considering other explanations or positions. Leaving the reader asking more questions. Example: in a debate concerning the multicultural nature of Australia, assuming that Australia is a multicultural
11 nation and not explaining why Australia is referred to as a multicultural nation, who suggests it is and who suggests it isn t and in what ways. Red herring: Reification or hypostatisation: Mixing up past and present: Is any diversion intended to distract attention from the main issue. Example: when analysing the issue of smoke being detrimental to the health of those breathing in the smoke and the writer introduces the idea that employees of tobacco companies will be made redundant if smoking is restricted. The redundancy issue has nothing to do with the debate over the effect of smoking on health and is simply being used to divert from the main issue. The writer uses an abstract concept as if it were concrete reality. Examples: using phrases such as: Science has proven., history has taught us, Medicine has discovered.. Avoid using these statements. Replace them with more specifically worded sentences; such as, four scientists (Smith, Jones, Gould and Ryan) have worked on experiments which indicate proof. Assuming that a criticism of a place made in the past (even the recent past) still applies at the time of writing. 2.3 Reading Directions Whenever you write, you must be aware that you are required to give your reader implicit and explicit signals about: Why you have included certain evidence. Why certain evidence is irrelevant or tangential. What relevance certain evidence has to the discussion Explicit directions include: Transition words and phrases Developing a paragraph by writing a topic sentence that makes a broad statement and following this with sentences that enrich and expand that statement giving more specific and concrete details. Using sub headings to highlight different sections (check if convenor permits this). Sentences that tell the reader what you are doing. Advice to the reader when you change time, place, or type of evidence Implicit directions include: Making sure that each paragraph is organised logically in terms of time and place; that is, mentioning the earlier event first and having any other events presented chronologically, dealing with all the points emanating from one place before moving onto points or evidence from another place. Making sure the whole piece of writing is logically organised and presents the reader with easy transitions from one paragraph or section to the next. Following a format that is familiar to or expected by the readers. Accumulating an extensive list of words you can use to firm up the connections in your writing gives strong signals to your reader. Learn to pay attention to them in your editing process. The list below is provided as a guide for you.
12 2.4 Starter List of Transition Words Transition words are used throughout essay to illustrate the following things: Introduction of evidence: Addition, amplification and accumulation: Cause or effect: Chronological order, sequence: Agreement: Comparison, similarity: Contrast, opposition, conflict: Emphasis, summary, conclusion: Purpose: Qualification: A reminder, restatement: for example, to illustrate, for instance, first, second, it follows. again, also, and then, next, furthermore, in addition, additionally, moreover. accordingly, as a result, hence, since, because, for, therefore, consequently, thus. afterwards, again, as long as, as soon as, at last, at length, at that time, at the some time, earlier, previously, finally, first (second, third), firstly (secondly, thirdly), formerly, in the past (present, future), later, now, subsequently, then yesterday, today, tomorrow, when while, until, now, next, immediately, meanwhile. concurs, confirms, corroborates, endorses, supports, substantiates, acknowledges, concedes, accepts. likewise, similarly, in the same way (manner), also, comparably. although, yet, however, notwithstanding, despite, still, otherwise, to/in contrast, nevertheless, differently, whereas, but, on the other hand, unfortunately, instead, not only, in spite of, admittedly, contradicts, denies, disagrees, disputes, on the contrary, in contrast finally, once again, to conclude, to summarise, to sum up, in short, to repeat, to restate, that is, of course, in other words, in brief, to emphasise, altogether, overall. for this purpose, to this end, with this in mind, intentionally, in order to, for this reason. although, but, however, if, granted, in this case, I recognise/understand, probably, possibly, to some extent, somewhat, perhaps, it seems, it may be that, nonetheless. as stated, as we have seen, as I have outlined in, as presented before, previously, as the next section will show. [Source: Cloak, P. & Noad, P. (1994) Academic Writing Skills. Brisbane: The Centre for Crime Policy and Public Safety, Griffith University. P 27] 3. EDITING 3.1 The Editing Process Many students spending all of their time allocated to an assignment in reading, researching and writing the first draft. You need to keep 1/3 of your allocated time for editing. Writer s block is often created by thinking you have to get it right first time. Get used to the idea of developing the first draft as a rough model and then using the editing process as a way of shaping it up and then refining. The most important allocation of time should be that put into editing the first draft.
13 3.1.1 A Four Stage Editing Process Each revision focuses on particular elements of your writing and edits for those elements alone. The whole process moves from a global focus content, evidence and argument to a local focus spelling, punctuation, the technicalities of referencing and bibliography. Revision 1 focuses on: Is there a proper introduction are you answering the question and indicating how you are going to respond? Does the essay fulfil the commitments contained in the introduction? Is the evidence adequate and appropriate? Finally, does the conclusion summarise your argument? For a 1,000 word assignment you should allow 2 hours maybe more if you find you need to research more for different evidence or to alter your argument. Revision 2 focuses on: Checking each paragraph has a topic sentence: do this by asking the question: What is the point of this paragraph and how does it fit into the assignment? Re arranging the paragraphs so that they are logical in their presentation. Are there any terms that should be defined? Could/should any examples be used to explain/illustrate difficult concepts/processes? Supplying reader directions by telling your reader what you are doing and why you have included or excluded material. (see reader directions) Readability: at this point you may wish to get someone else to read your work and bracket the sentences that don t make sense to them. You need to plan the appropriate amount of time for this and to give your reader instructions to bracket the sentences that don t make sense to them. Choose a good reader and chances are that sentences they have trouble with will be the same ones the marker has trouble with. Correct these unclear sentences by adding examples and explanations and re wording for clarity. For a 1,000 word assignment you should allow the time it will take to organise another reader and the time it takes for the reader to read the writing plus you should allow about 2 hours for your correction. Revision 3 focuses on the clarity of writing: Check the use and appropriateness of transition words. Remove unnecessary which and that clauses, and unexplained jargon. Make sure that topic sentences are short and sentences containing evidence are longer. Substitute the relevant buzz words for the particular course and/or discipline. You may need to refer to the vocabulary list you have kept for this particular course. Check punctuation. For a 1,000 word assignment allow about 1 hour. Revision 4 focuses on: Precise use of general vocabulary Correct spelling. Correct formatting of the writing and the references according to the instructions of the particular course. Compliance with any specific presentation instructions given. For a 1,000 word essay allow about 1 hour. [Source: Cloak & Noad (1994) Academic Writing Skills The Centre for Crime Policy and Public Safety, Griffith University].
14 If you use a computer to compose your assignment, always make a backup. It is not an excuse for late submission that data was lost due to computer fault. Always retain a copy of your paper and make sure to get a receipt from OC&AHS when you hand in your assignment if you submit with the assignment handler option.
15 PART 4: REFERENCING GUIDE American Psychological Association Referencing Style is the expected referencing style for the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. The following is a brief outline of the way to use the APA referencing style. Students should note that this is not a comprehensive list of all the possible sources and the referencing style for each. Rather it is meant as a guide to the most commonly used sources, there will undoubtedly be many more types of sources you will need to site. There are large amounts of resources available both on line and in print form regarding how to reference using this style. The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice highly recommended that students purchase the Pocket Guide to APA Style from the campus bookshop. This pocket guide comes at a small cost; however this is a source that you will use throughout your studies. The APA Style outlined below has been taken from Robert Perrin s Pocket Guide to APA Style. Perrin, R. (2007). Pocket Guide to APA Style (3rd Ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 1. BOOKS & OTHER TEXT 1.1 Books with One Author Description Author, A. (year). Title of the book in italics, Place of Publication: Publisher. Reference Wortley, R. (2002). Situational Prison Control Crime Prevention in Correctional Institutions. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. In text citation (Wortley, 2002) 1.2 Books by Two of More Authors The author s names should appear in the order that appears on the title page not alphabetical order. If a book has between two to six authors all names are listed, if a book has seven or more authors, the first six are listed, followed by the abbreviation et al. Description Author, A., & Author B. (year). Title of the book in italics, Place of Publication: Publisher. Reference Sarre, R., & Prenzler, T. (2005) The Law of Private Security in Australia. Pyrmont, NSW: Thomson Lawbook Co. In text citation (Sarre & Prenzler, 2005)
16 1.3 A Chapter in an Edited Book Description Author, A. (year). Chapter Title. In A. Editor (Ed.), Boko title in italics (pages of chapter). Place of Publication: Publisher. Reference Mazerolle, L. (2009). Street Crime. In H. Hayes., & T. Prenzler. (Ed.). (2009). An Introduction to Crime and Criminology (2 nd Ed.). NSW: Pearson Education Australia. In text citation (Hayes & Prenzler, 2009). 1.4 Government Agency or Organisation Documents The reference for government documents should follow the same format as for other books, if there is an author the citation should begin with the author s name. Description Government Agency, Author. (year). Report title in italics (include report number if applicable). Place of Publication: Publisher. Reference Department of Premier and Cabinet (2008). Queensland Crime and Justice Bulletin ( ). Brisbane: Queensland Government. In text citation (Department of Premier and Cabinet, 2008). 2. PERIODICALS 2.1 Journal Article Description Author, A.A. (year). Title of Article. Title of Journal in Italics and Capitalised, volume number in italics, (if there is an issue number include that here not in italics but in brackets), page numbers start finish. Reference Soole, D.W., Mazerolle, L., & Rombouts, S. (2008). School based drug prevention programs: A review of what works. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 41 (2), In text citation First in text citation (Soole, Mazerolle & Rombouts, 2008) Second and subsequent citations (Soole et al., 2008)
17 2.2 Secondary Sources (Work cited in another article) Description Author, A., Author, B., Author, C., & Author, D. (2008). Title of Article, Title of Journal in Italics and Capitalised, volume number in italics, (if there is an issue number include that here not in italics but in brackets), page numbers start finish. Reference Allen, M., Jerome, A., White, A., Marston, S., Lamb, S., Pope, D., et al. (2002). The preparation of school psychologists for crisis intervention. Psychology in the Schools, 39, In text citation Wise, Smead, and Hueber s 1987 study in crisis intervention and personnel training (as cited in Allen et al., 2002) adds further dimension to the discussion. 3. AUDIOVISUAL SOURCES 3.1 An Interview An interview is a personal communication and as such it is not cited in the reference list only in text. Description A. Interviewee (personal communication, Month, Day, year). In text citation T.Winter (personal communication, October, 1, 2008) illustrated the importance of referencing correctly. 4. ELECTRONIC SOURCES This survival guide only basic examples of two referencing types for electronic sources, for more detailed instructions check out you will need to consult the Perrin s Pocket Guide or another APA referencing source. This is usually the type of sources students find the most difficult to reference, as there can be so many different types. Follow the principles outlined above and remember the purpose of referencing is two fold; to show that you have researched your essay and to acknowledge the work of others. Simply add as much information as you can. Description Author, A., Author, B., & Author, C. (date, if you can not find the actual date of the article or the information simply include the date the site was last updated, this may just be a year). Title of Article or Information. Title of Journal, Organisation if Author is listed also, sometimes there will not be anything to include here, all in Italics, Retrieved date month, year, from Example Crime and Misconduct Commission. (2007). Inquiry into Policing in Indigenous Communities: Overview. Retrieved 6 October, 2008 from In text citation (Crime and Misconduct Commission, 2007)
18 5. EVALUATION OF SOURCES It is important to evaluate whether or not the sources that you are going to be referring to in your essay are reputable. Most commonly students struggle with this when it comes to internet sources. At first glance a common sense approach is the best one; this means that sites such as wikepedia should never be submitted as references. Books of Readings should also never be sighted, you should always sight the original source not the book of readings itself. The APA pocket guide covers evaluation of all different sources however most commonly students struggle with the evaluation of internet sources, as such the following has been included as a guide. Internet Sources.com commercial site. The preliminary function of which is to make money.. edu Affiliated with an educational institution.. gov A government site. These sites present trustworthy information (statistics, facts, dates) and less interpretive materials.. org An organisation site. Because organisations seek to advance political, social, financial, educational, and other specific agendas, review these materials with care.