Format Of A Discussion Essay Guide

Discussion Essay, how to write it

Discussion Essay

Discussions are competent deliberations, which are embedded within knowledge. A productive and a tactful discussion must consider both the opposing viewpoints thus resulting in a balanced view in the whole paper. Discussion essays present issues that surround a particular topic mostly found being open and debatable to the argument. As such, a discussion essay needs to include the thorough discussion of the different sides of a given topic. The essay should offer a well-rounded understanding of all issues before the writer shows his personal conclusions and opinions. Similar to many persuasive formats of essays, a quality discussion essay is dependent on the ability of the author to offer a substantial research and evidences that show the various views of the topic.

 

 When you discuss an idea in the essay, you are expected to maintain some concrete structure. Select a single opinion and come up with negative and the positive arguments for the viewpoint. Your opinion should then be summed up in some elegant conclusion. Discussion type essays have some discussion questions. These issues might ask for a summary of arguments towards some particular point of view or the opinion towards the subject. Always read through the questions carefully. If it is a test, you might lose marks if you answer the wrong question. 

 

Developing a discussion essay

Step 1

Select the appropriate topic for the essay. The topic needs to be one that interests you. You are expected to discuss all the sides of the issues that surround the essay. Intense research with appropriate evidence will help a great deal by providing pertinent information for the essay.

Step 2

The outline of the discussion essay should be made using a pen and paper. The primary goal at this point involves getting the thoughts on the topic organized in writing. A detailed outline could be written for the discussion essay using the formal traditional outline and numbers, which separates the main points. Another way, of coming up with the outline, involves jotting down the main points of discussion which you want to cover in the body.

Step 3
Focus to write the essay in the following way. The objectives in the introduction of the assignment are to have all issues relating to the topic introduced. The introduction also offers the reader with vital background information. You are expected to explain the relevant terms or words that are used in the essay. Providing the reader with the basic overview of the organization of the discussion ensures that the flow of thought is understood in the whole essay body.
Step 4

Body of the essay can be written with the help of the research sources collected. Each issue needs to be presented impartially and individually. You should start by discussing a single side then the other side of the argument, which is related to the given topic. The arguments in the body should be progressive beginning with weak arguments or issue and progressing to the stronger argument. A well-structured discussion essay helps the reader to follow the flow of thought in an easy way without any distraction.

Step 5

The last section of the discussion essay is the essay conclusion. The role of the conclusion involves summarizing the information from the body of the essay. The conclusion makes the reader review the merits and demerits of the argument topic. In most cases, you are not expected to choose any side of the argument. If you decided to select a particular side of the argument, you would need to show your conclusion on the argument.

Phrases in discussion essay

 

In preparing for an argument essay the first thing, that should be done, involves memorizing some ready-made phrases. In this case, learning a number of sentences has a number of advantages. These include:


 

Disadvantages of using phrases in an essay.

 

 This time we advise that you follow a view that is balanced. The phrases can be used in the essay, but these phrases should never be overused. Critical for you is to present your real personality in the essay by expressing yourself using your words.

 

There are a number of qualities of an acceptable discussion essay. The basic competence level is characterized by:

Using the first person pronoun (“I”)

 

 A decent number of scientists have been exploring how to use first person pronoun in academic writing. These scholars have agreed on the fact that using the first person pronoun has had minimum effect on the nature of the academic writing. In this case, using the first person pronoun “I” may not necessarily make the essay less formal. In addition, doing away with the “I” may not automatically make the essay more academic. This means that the overall use of language and vocabulary instead of the selection of personal pronoun has a significant effect on the tone of the university writing. However, the general rules on using the first person include:

 

The figure above shows that using “I” in the introduction and conclusion could shows whatever would be done before it is done. It can also be used in highlighting whatever is done afterward.

“I” may be used instead of referring to the writer as “the research”  or “the writer,” which may appear being more artificial.

Some fields like the social studies use “I”, when emphasizing the practical research. In language tests, the distinction may not be helpful hence not important in considering it.

In using the first person pronoun “I,”, it is vital to vary the verb that follows. For example, words like “I feel”, “I tend to regard..” “I would consider.,” could be used in the place of, “I think”. You should always find a way through which you can soften your language making it categorical or less direct.

The “I” can also be used in relating the personal experience to a given example thus distinguishing the personal experience from the reading aspects and research. In all cases, you avoid being too anecdotal.

Use of mnemonic device

 

In the preparation of a test, it is extremely vital to apply the mnemonic devices. The mnemonic devices are systems of words that are useful in recalling the main points. A mnemonic device can be remembered by just remembering the initial letters of the words in the phrase.

Example: 


 

Where the first letter G is for Grammar, the second letter S is for Students, the third letter R is for Relevance, the fourth letter E is for Examples, and the last letter C is for Cohesion.

Grammar-Your grammar must be accurate and correct

Structure- Your essay should be well-organized

Relevance-All the asked questions must be answered

Examples- Illustrations should be included in the essay to ensure that all points are reinforced 

Cohesion- Phrases and linking words should be used appropriately in the discussion essay.

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Writing an academic essay means fashioning a coherent set of ideas into an argument. Because essays are essentially linear—they offer one idea at a time—they must present their ideas in the order that makes most sense to a reader. Successfully structuring an essay means attending to a reader's logic.

The focus of such an essay predicts its structure. It dictates the information readers need to know and the order in which they need to receive it. Thus your essay's structure is necessarily unique to the main claim you're making. Although there are guidelines for constructing certain classic essay types (e.g., comparative analysis), there are no set formula.

Answering Questions:  The Parts of an Essay

A typical essay contains many different kinds of information, often located in specialized parts or sections. Even short essays perform several different operations: introducing the argument, analyzing data, raising counterarguments, concluding. Introductions and conclusions have fixed places, but other parts don't. Counterargument, for example, may appear within a paragraph, as a free-standing section, as part of the beginning, or before the ending. Background material (historical context or biographical information, a summary of relevant theory or criticism, the definition of a key term) often appears at the beginning of the essay, between the introduction and the first analytical section, but might also appear near the beginning of the specific section to which it's relevant.

It's helpful to think of the different essay sections as answering a series of questions your reader might ask when encountering your thesis. (Readers should have questions. If they don't, your thesis is most likely simply an observation of fact, not an arguable claim.)

"What?"  The first question to anticipate from a reader is "what": What evidence shows that the phenomenon described by your thesis is true? To answer the question you must examine your evidence, thus demonstrating the truth of your claim. This "what" or "demonstration" section comes early in the essay, often directly after the introduction. Since you're essentially reporting what you've observed, this is the part you might have most to say about when you first start writing. But be forewarned: it shouldn't take up much more than a third (often much less) of your finished essay. If it does, the essay will lack balance and may read as mere summary or description.

"How?"  A reader will also want to know whether the claims of the thesis are true in all cases. The corresponding question is "how": How does the thesis stand up to the challenge of a counterargument? How does the introduction of new material—a new way of looking at the evidence, another set of sources—affect the claims you're making? Typically, an essay will include at least one "how" section. (Call it "complication" since you're responding to a reader's complicating questions.) This section usually comes after the "what," but keep in mind that an essay may complicate its argument several times depending on its length, and that counterargument alone may appear just about anywhere in an essay.

"Why?"  Your reader will also want to know what's at stake in your claim: Why does your interpretation of a phenomenon matter to anyone beside you? This question addresses the larger implications of your thesis. It allows your readers to understand your essay within a larger context. In answering "why", your essay explains its own significance. Although you might gesture at this question in your introduction, the fullest answer to it properly belongs at your essay's end. If you leave it out, your readers will experience your essay as unfinished—or, worse, as pointless or insular.

Mapping an Essay

Structuring your essay according to a reader's logic means examining your thesis and anticipating what a reader needs to know, and in what sequence, in order to grasp and be convinced by your argument as it unfolds. The easiest way to do this is to map the essay's ideas via a written narrative. Such an account will give you a preliminary record of your ideas, and will allow you to remind yourself at every turn of the reader's needs in understanding your idea.

Essay maps ask you to predict where your reader will expect background information, counterargument, close analysis of a primary source, or a turn to secondary source material. Essay maps are not concerned with paragraphs so much as with sections of an essay. They anticipate the major argumentative moves you expect your essay to make. Try making your map like this:

  • State your thesis in a sentence or two, then write another sentence saying why it's important to make that claim. Indicate, in other words, what a reader might learn by exploring the claim with you. Here you're anticipating your answer to the "why" question that you'll eventually flesh out in your conclusion.
  • Begin your next sentence like this: "To be convinced by my claim, the first thing a reader needs to know is . . ." Then say why that's the first thing a reader needs to know, and name one or two items of evidence you think will make the case. This will start you off on answering the "what" question. (Alternately, you may find that the first thing your reader needs to know is some background information.)
  • Begin each of the following sentences like this: "The next thing my reader needs to know is . . ."  Once again, say why, and name some evidence. Continue until you've mapped out your essay. 

Your map should naturally take you through some preliminary answers to the basic questions of what, how, and why. It is not a contract, though—the order in which the ideas appear is not a rigid one. Essay maps are flexible; they evolve with your ideas.

Signs of Trouble

A common structural flaw in college essays is the "walk-through" (also labeled "summary" or "description"). Walk-through essays follow the structure of their sources rather than establishing their own. Such essays generally have a descriptive thesis rather than an argumentative one. Be wary of paragraph openers that lead off with "time" words ("first," "next," "after," "then") or "listing" words ("also," "another," "in addition"). Although they don't always signal trouble, these paragraph openers often indicate that an essay's thesis and structure need work: they suggest that the essay simply reproduces the chronology of the source text (in the case of time words: first this happens, then that, and afterwards another thing . . . ) or simply lists example after example ("In addition, the use of color indicates another way that the painting differentiates between good and evil").

Copyright 2000, Elizabeth Abrams, for the Writing Center at Harvard University

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