“To essay is to try”
Essays must have clear direction for discussion. Beginning with a proposition statement ensures that you have a strong position and argument focus throughout your essay.
Getting it right: answer the right question!
It is imperative that you answer the question asked in your assignment. Imagine the following is the question you were set:
What are the reasons for staffing problems in the hotel and catering industry? Suggest ways in which these might be overcome.
One quick suggested method for analysing the question (Williams, 1995) includes the following steps:
1. Identify the subject (staffing problems in the hotel & catering industry)
2. Identify the instructions to you (What does the question ask you to do? Name/list/describe the problems. Suggest possible solutions)
3. Identify the key aspects (the hotel & catering industry)
4. Identify significant words (“suggest ways… might be overcome” – this suggests there is no easy, straightforward solution)
5. Ask yourself questions about the question
(Why are there problems? What sorts of problems? Are the problems the same across the industry or do they vary, for example, for large and small hotels/restaurants?)
Research for Evidence
Research your topic after you have clarified the question. Make active-reading notes from your researched journal articles. Use both paraphrased information and quoted information in your notes. Take down all the bibliographical details for reference. When you take down direct quotes you may want to use, be sure to note the page number as well. Use the Harvard Referencing Style both in-text and in your reference list. Making good notes from your readings will give you a sound base from which to begin.
As with any introduction, you need good background information. The essay’s introduction is no different: it requires a few sentences setting out the background or current situation of the topic to be discussed. You then need to indicate the approach you are going to take in a ‘proposition statement’: that is, what you are specifically going to discuss, examine or argue.
Your proposition sentence is the most important sentence in your essay. It sets out what you are going to do and what position you are taking in the essay. Not only does the proposition give you direction but it also gives the reader direction.
Example: This essay will explore the impact of a range of staffing problems on the hospitality and catering industry and suggest some possible solutions.
Each paragraph you write must add to, or be related to, your proposition in some way and should propel the argument forward.
Know the direction your essay will take before you begin. Write a quick outline starting with your proposition statement. Plan a ‘bone structure’ or outline of the essay with a topic sentence for each paragraph to help guide and organise your work.
Each paragraph should:
– discuss one idea
– have a topic sentence that relates to or adds to the proposition statement in some way.
– have internal organisation (paragraphs define, describe, explain, give examples, analyse and conclude a particular idea of the essay topic)
be linked to the next paragraph clearly and logically with appropriate connecting words such as: however, therefore, as a result.
Critically Analyse and Evaluate
Your essay discussion should evaluate and analyse the information from your journal articles and other sources. The journal articles are used as evidence to promote your own ideas: your’voice’ within the essay. All references used must be acknowledged in the text as well as in the reference list to avoid plagiarism. All direct quotes should be indicated with inverted commas (“…”) and should have a page number, as well as author and year (e.g Jones, 2004, p.14)
The conclusion summarises the findings of the essay, that is, the main points and the results. Although it does not introduce new information, the conclusion should look at the consequences and/or impact on the future.
Proofreading and Editing
Of course, it goes without saying that all essays must be carefully proofread and edited for: grammar, punctuation, content, structure, referencing. Allow time to revise well between drafts. Read the final draft aloud to pick up any errors.