essayguide - 1.Whatisanessay .An .

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THE AUSTRALIAN CENTRE GUIDE TO WRITING ESSAYS AND THESES 1. What is an essay?   The word  essay  comes from the Medieval French word ‘assay’ meaning to weigh or to test. An  essay weighs or tests an idea or hypothesis. It develops an  argument  about a clearly defined issue.  Often this argument includes a dialogue with other researchers or theorists. It supports and  illustrates its claims with evidence and examples. So the object of an essay is not simply to  present information as though it were an entry for an encyclopaedia. At the end of the essay your  reader should be able to say — yes, I understand what this writer has to say: I can restate his or  her argument.  2. Beginning an essay   Choose a topic which you will enjoy, a topic in which you have a real interest. Make sure that  you have access to sources which will enable you to write a well-evidenced piece of work.  University courses often provide you with the opportunity to write an essay in response to a  clearly defined question. But sometimes you are encouraged to devise your own topic. When this  is the case, formulate your essay as a question, hypothesis, problem or tentative argument. If you  are merely ‘exploring aspects’ of an area, then you don’t have a satisfying topic. Remember: be  specific. Zero in on a clearly defined issue. Check with the lecturer in charge that your self- devised topic is in keeping with the course requirements.  3. Why read secondary sources?   There is a rich variety of writing about Australian history, society, environment and culture. The  course guides contain substantial reading lists and these will usually leave you in no doubt about  the essential texts that you should take into account when researching your essay. But these are  just a starting point. Revel in bibliographies, bookshops and libraries. One of the best ways to  become a better writer is to become a better reader. Read. Read. Read. But, be selective in your                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   1
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reading. Some books and articles demand to be read in their entirety. Some are worth a quick  scan. Some have useful information on one or two pages. 
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