Introduction To Methodology Of Writing Essays

A good answer will need to harmonise with all of this evidence, or explain why particular items have been dismissed as having no bearing on the problem.

It follows from all of this that — that is, answers which fall outside the field of possible solutions or which fail to take account of received evidence — even though there is no 'absolutely right' answer.

It is useful to note that there is usually a natural way of structuring your answer: that is, a way of organising an answer which follows naturally from the format of the question and which will put the fewest obstacles in the way of the reader: 'Explain' and 'why' questions demand a list of reasons or one big reason; each reason will have to be explained - that is, clarified, expounded, and illustrated.

'Assess', 'evaluate' and 'define-the-significance-of' questions require judgements supported by reasons, explanation and evidence.

Thus, the subject of the question is the 'Y' rather than the 'X' element.

That is, the question requires a discussion of the system as a whole and the consideration of alternative explanations of how 'X' worked within it.You should consider the merits of a variety of responses.If possible you should always examine the book or article from which the quotation has been taken in order to discover what its author meant by it, to discover how the author has understood the issues.That is, to explain why they are the best criteria for judging the historical phenomenon at issue.'What-role-did-X-play-in-Y' questions imply a functionalist approach - that is, they require that you identify the function of some phenomenon, group or institution within some specific system.'Compare-and-contrast' questions demand the identification of similarities and differences.One method of tackling such an essay would be to distinguish five or six areas of similarity and contrast, and to devote a section of the essay to each area - a section in which you would assess the degree of similarity and reach a sub-conclusion.The conclusion would then require a summation of the various 'sub-conclusions'.It needs to be stressed that none of these types of question calls for a narrative approach.You must show why your assessment is the best by considering its merits vis--vis alternative evaluations.It might be useful to define and defend the criteria on which your judgement depends.

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