Tips for writing a master’s degree essayChen Wan Lim
Essay writing is never easy, more so if they are for a master’s degree essay where complex concepts and understandings have to be written and the message conveyed across clearly. Good academic writing is often described as writing that meets the expectations of the audience – in this case, it’s your course supervisor and examiners. Here are the step-by-step tips to get you through writing a proper and acceptable master’s level essay:
Tip 1: Understand the needs and requirements of the essay
First and foremost, candidates would need to fully understand the question and what is required for the essay. Look at the verbs within the question such as analyse, discuss, compare, argue or explain. These verbs will help you to identify the type of essay you need to write ie. Argumentative piece, analytical writing etc. Next you would need to know what to do with the verbs. These verbs will required you to either apply a certain philosophy, analyse a theory, compare ideas or defend a stance.
Tip 2: Come up with a game plan
In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. With this strong quote in mind, plan the essay framework and points to write for the essay before you start writing. In establishing the framework of your essay, firstly determine the focus of the paper such as the primary argument followed by any secondary and tertiary supporting arguments. Then you will be able to think about the associated theories and concepts to support your argument. After you have established the focus and theories, then you will be able to illustrate examples to further support your arguments. Your framework will also give you a rough estimation of how long your essay is going to be. The last thing you want is to write a ten page essay when what was required was only a two page argument.
Tip 3: Research
Now that you fully understand the essay question and have drafted your framework, you can now start to do your research. The amount of research is obviously dependent on the level of your existing knowledge and also the requirement of the essay – there are possibilities that the essay might require candidates to quote from multiple sources in arguing a certain issue. If the essay requires candidates to do some data gathering such as interviews and surveys, then proper drafting of the data collecting methodology is also crucial.
Tip 4: Finalise your essay framework
Often, in the course of your drafting the essay framework, you will encounter setbacks and limitations to the availability of certain data and information. This is where you will need to tweak your essay framework and perhaps devise other plans to accomplish your essay. If you need to rework the essay framework then go back to ‘Step 2’ and rewrite the framework with the information that is available to you. Once you have finalise the essay framework and is satisfied with the information that you need to use to write the essay, run it by with your course instructor to seek his or her opinion. Getting the opinion of your course instructor will help you identify serious errors in your understanding of the essay question and even perhaps errors in the research methodology you plan to employ.
Tip 5: First draft
Now that you have a solid essay framework and have also conducted a fair bit of research on the points that you plan to write in the essay, you can start writing the first draft. Get a quiet spot to organize your information, books, research papers, journals and data – this will help you start writing efficiently without being distracted with a misplaced book. In terms of language, if you are using a second person voice then stick to it and do not switch between second and third person voices. Do not be too worried about grammatical errors at this stage as the first draft is meant to capture all the pertinent points, expounding on it and attaching strong examples to it.
Tip 6: Edit the draft
At this stage, you should check that your arguments and theories specifically address the essay question and that your arguments are all set out in a clear and concise manner. In addition, also check that your paragraphs are in a logical order with the thesis statement at the top followed by the key points with supporting arguments and ending with a strong convicting summary. Also, be sure to check that all sources are cited using the approved formats and that there is absolutely no use of plagiarised materials in your essay. You might also want to consider getting a person knowledgeable in the field you are researching on to read you work – they could identify factual inconsistencies.
Tip 7: Prepare for submission
Now that all your facts and arguments have been checked and verified and all your references have been cited, go through your work to correct all the grammatical errors such as spelling mistakes and incorrect use of tenses. You can do the proofreading yourself by reading it out loud to identify errors or you could also get someone else to do it for you – possibly for a fee.
Now that you are ready to submit your essay, be sure to check with your course instructor on how and where to submit your essay. Also do check that your personal information and contact details are attached to the essay.