Writing a ba essay Rules and Guidelines Yfirlit



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Writing a BA Essay

  • Rules and
  • Guidelines

Yfirlit

  • Seminar 1
    • Rules of the Faculty of Humanities
    • The Purpose
    • The Process
    • Topic and Definition
    • Choosing and working with an advisor
    • Thesis Proposal
    • Organization
  • Seminar 2
    • Expository Writing
    • Academic Discourse
    • Sources
    • Outline
    • Tables and
    • Final Copy and Editing
    • Handbooks for Writing

Rules of the Faculty of Humanities concerning BA Essays

  • See: http://www.hug.hi.is/page/baritgerd
  • Goals:
    • „Lokaritgerð er ætlað að sýna hæfni nemenda til sjálfstæðra vinnubragða, til skipulegrar úrvinnslu efnis og heimilda, svo og til notkunar fræðilegra hjálpargagna.“
    • “The goal of a BA essay is to demonstrate students´ abilities to work independently, to organize and interpret the material and sources and to utilize academic aids.”

Chosing and working with an advisor

  • An advisor should be a member of the permanent staff of the department. Other advisors are assigned by special permission of the department.
  • An advisor guides the student in developing a thesis and identifying appropriate sources, and oversees the writing process.

Format and length

  • Length
    • 10 cr. essay: 8.000-10.000 words (20-30 pp)
    • (2 credits = 1 week of work, 10 cr = 5 weeks.)
    • 20 cr. essay = 16.000-20.000 words (50-60 pp)
      • (20 cr. = 10 weeks of work. By special permission only)
  • MLA Format
      • A-4, 3 cm. margins, double spacing
      • Front page and title page
  • Academic discourse - carefully edited
  • Bibliography - endnotes

Deadlines:

  • Deadlines: see current schedule
    • Turn in one unbound copy for the second reader
  • Turn in 4 copies of bound essay
  • Grades due: 2-3 weeks after the deadline

The Purpose of BA Essays:

  • Three fold purpose:
    • Training in methodology
    • Conducting research
    • The best BA essays are:
      • an original contribution to the field
      • demonstrate independent work
      • include a good lit. review with the appropriate sources
      • arguments are logically presented,
      • is written in clear academic language
  • A writer needs to consider the reader (the audience)
    • Who is the reader (audience) of a BA essay?

The Process: Overview

  • Choosing a topic
  • Choosing an advisor
  • A plan of writing – an outline
  • Gathering and analyzing data
    • Confer with advisor
  • Writing the essay
    • Advisor reads a draft and gives feedback
  • Student revises as often as needed
    • Content – Organization- Language- Format
  • Student turns in final copy

Choosing and defining a topic

  • What is the topic of the BA essay?
  • What is the main thesis?
  • Usually the thesis answers an academic question
  • Topics in the past include:
    • The Critical Period Hypothesis and Second Language Acquisition
    • English for Specific Purposes
    • English Influence on North American Icelandic
    • Objectivity and the Media: The Discourse of Editorials

Choosing and Defining a thesis

  • Keep in mind:
    • Confer with the advisor about narrowing the topic to a thesis
    • Make sure that the topic/thesis is doable given the time and resources available
      • 2 credits = 1 weeks work
      • Too wide a topic is hard to manage
      • Too narrow a topic may not be worth doing

The Thesis

  • Interest
    • Main thing is being interested or curious about a topic?
    • Best to think about the topic from a theoretical or research standpoint as a gap in current knowledge, an unanswered question, paradox og fallacy.

Thesis

  • Originality
    • Is this anything new?
      • New facts?
      • New and unique interpretation, view etc...
    • Has someone already written about this? What has been said about this?
    • Do a Lit. review.
    • What will your essay add to current knowledge?

Originality

  • Is not always a new idea but a new way of looking at things, interpreting things…

Choosing and working with an advisor

  • Expertise
  • Good relationship
  • Independence: Not just write what the advisor says
  • The Role of the advisor

The Research Proposal and Development of a Thesis

  • Defining and developing a thesis:
    • A research proposal is a short description of the topic, thesis, research methodology/ approach and main sources
      • Length max. 1 page.
    • Often the proposal needs to be revised or changed slightly as the writing progresses

Organization

  • The organization of the essay must be clear to the reader from the beginning
  • Good rule to organize about 80% of the text 26-34 pages)
  • More difficult to shorten than lengthening a text.

Organization

  • Front page
  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Index
  • Introduction
  • Main body of essay (Chapter 1, 2, 3, 4 etc...)
    • Main body is about 75% of essay
  • Conclusions
  • Works cited

Organization

  • Organization of Main Body of Essay
    • Main chapters:
      • They should be of equal length. Usually there are 3 - 5 main chapters. Each chapter has about 8-10 pages.
    • Sub sections
      • 2-4 subsections
      • Common problems: Organization is too loose or too tight or organization varies by chapters.

Organization

  • Chapter titles
    • Short
    • Describe the content
  • Common mistakes:
    • Limited content, unclear description, too few or too many references
    • Questions as titles
    • Inadequate description of content
    • Too much repetition

Organization

  • Beginning and end of subsections:
    • What is the section about?
    • Consistency in length and importance
    • Two levels of writing:
    • End with a descriptive sentence about the content and transition to next section

Examples

  • A good beginning of a chapter grabs the reader´s interest. Ex. Posing a question or problem... . Reader is enticed to read more...
    • Not a good beginning for a main chapter:
      • „In the last chapter I talked about bla bla bla”
      • „ In this chapter I will discuss [title of chapter]
      • As I said earlier...
  • Conclusion of main chapter
      • Concluding words where the main points made in the chapter are reiterated in a general way
      • Transition to next section.


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