General Advice for Essay Writing

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You   must ground your argument in the academic literature and illustrate your argument with
examples. The basic purpose behind using examples and illustrations is that they support your analysis
and thereby lends academic credibility to your argument. You will need to decide how best to achieve
this aim but you may draw on examples from your own research, case studies that you have read
elsewhere in academic and non-academic outlets, examples that you have researched yourself, or your
own professional experience. As such, the illustration that you use may relate to one particular
jurisdiction (ie a country or a sub-national State or provincial government) or be more general in
approach and not relate to any particular jurisdiction. You may draw on the case study that you have
researched for your group presentation as one example but you must supplement this with other
illustrations.
Your paper should be 3,000 words in length (+/- 10%) excluding the bibliography, footnotes and
supporting material in appendices, which will be reviewed but which will not contribute directly to the
final mark. Your work will be assessed as an academic research paper with all the usual requirements
for research, citation and referencing as set out in the guidelines below and the University’s policy on
Academic Integrity.
General Guidance for Research Papers
The most important point is to start the process of thinking, researching and writing your research
paper early, particularly as this is an intensive course.
It is expected that you will conduct your own research for the research paper and use the Essential
Readings as a starting point only. The Recommended and Supplementary Reading lists are provided as
a guide to assist you in this process.
The following points refer to more general advice:
1. When you come to do the research for your essay, you should treat your notes as no more than an
introduction to the topic. Once you have consulted them you should concentrate on reading more
widely so that you develop a more comprehensive understanding of your chosen topic. There is no
magic number of references that you should consult but it is unlikely that a complete response can
be written with less than 12 readings in total, combining both peer-reviewed/academic/scholarly
readings and non-academic readings, including government policy documents (see the Further
Reading list).
2. You should aim to provide a credible, structured, coherent and reflective response.
3. You must explicitly address the key issues relevant to the question and your chosen case studies.
You therefore need to demonstrate that you have a clear understanding of the main issues that are
at stake and be able to select and analyse those that are most relevant to what you are studying
empirically. This will require evidence of wide reading through referencing, direct quotations and
examples taken from the literature.
4. Your research paper should have a well-defined structure. In most papers, the structure of your
assignment should be outlined in the introduction. You shouldn’t leave your reader guessing about
either your argument or how you intend to go about defending it.
5. You must attempt to answer the question in an ‘academic’ manner. Do not use phrases such as ‘I
think that…’ or ‘I believe that…’ This does not mean that you should not put your own views in
your response. On the contrary, this is an important part of the exercise but it means that you must
do so in a way that shows that you are aware of competing arguments and their relative strengths
and weaknesses by drawing on examples and evidence to justify your contention. This means that
you should not engage in one-sided assertions.
6. Your conclusion should draw your arguments to a close and demonstrate that you have answered
the question set. You will often find conflicting arguments and evidence so your conclusion does
not need to make a definitive statement. A conclusion that acknowledges and explains why an
assessment is difficult because of the variety of arguments is just as valid.
7. Your bibliography should provide a list of all of the publications that you have consulted in
producing your paper. The bibliography is important because it lends academic credibility to your
work. You can use any referencing system as long as you use it consistently. If you don’t have a
preference, or don’t know which approach to use, then I would recommend the Harvard system.
Details about how to reference using the Harvard system can be found at:
http://www.lib.unimelb.edu.au/cite/harvard_dis/.
8. Important: You should familiarise yourself with the University’s policy on academic integrity. A
broad guide is that any more than six words quoted directly from a text should be placed into
quotations marks and referenced. Alternatively, you can paraphrase and then cite the source. If
you are in doubt, then speak to me.

 

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