some tips to write a better essay:

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• Direct quotations are like jewels – use them sparingly. It’s often better to summarize the key point at hand in your own words, so that you can demonstrate comprehension of the arguments. All quotations do is demonstrate that you can quote!
• Don’t number references in your reference list. The marker can count.
• Do organize your reference list alphabetically.
• When referring to decades as a noun, it is the 1970s and the 1890s not the 1970’s and the 1890’s.
• It’s and its are different. It’s means ‘it is’, whereas ‘its’ is a possessive pronoun. e.g.:‘It’s about time’ (i.e. it is about time). The apostrophe indicates the word ‘is’ has been abbreviated.‘Poststructuralism is known for its complexity’ (the ‘complexity’ is a quality of the poststructuralism). A tip: if you can replace ‘it’s’ with ‘it is’, there should be an apostrophe. For example, ‘it’s about time’ makes sense as ‘it is about time’, but ‘poststructuralism is known for its complexity’ does not make sense as ‘poststructuralism is known for it is complexity’; therefore, no apostrophe.
• Always prof (oops) proof read! You will get a better mark.
• Don’t use informal language like: Don’t, it’s, you’re, etc., they’d. Use whole words.
• Don’t use informal or colloquial speech: ‘shy away from’, ‘measuring stick’, ‘Here we have an example of’. An academic essay is a piece of formal writing.
• Don’t have a sentence in which the only words belong to another author. It never looks good. e.g.:‘Identity is relational, meaning that is not inside a person but that it inheres in the relations between a person and others’ (Currie 1998:17).Try this:Currie (1998:17) suggests, ‘identity is relational, meaning that is not inside a person but that it inheres in the relations between a person and others’.
• In your reference list only include the books and articles which you cite and have read yourself. Don’t include works cited by others.
• Never include the lecturer’s words unless s/he has specifically told you where the words come from.
• Never just string quotes and paraphrases together. Your argument should drive the essay.
• Don’t use phrases like: Hopefully I will; I’ll try. Be decisive in your writing. For example: In this essay, I demonstrate how modern social theory has reached its limits. (Note also, no apostrophe in ‘its’!)
• Use ‘I’ instead of ‘we’. The reader isn’t the author. For example: In this essay, I explore how masculinity is in crisis

 

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